Cryptocurrency mining has sparked huge demand for the latest graphics cards, but anyone really serious about mining crypto invests in application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). These power-hungry compute rigs are designed specifically for the resource-intensive task, and miners are set to get a new, and more efficient 5nm ASIC option courtesy of Bitmain and TSMC.
As Tom's Hardware reports, China's Bitmain Technology Holding Company, which claims to hold a 75% share of the global ASIC market, is thought to have placed an order with chipmaker TSMC to take advantage of the company's N5 fabrication process (5nm). This is the process already being used by Apple for its 5nm A14 chipset found in the latest iPhones, but also for the M1 chip at the heart of the latest Macs.
DigiTimes says production of the new chip is set to start in the third quarter. There's no details yet on specifically what Bitmain's chip and subsequent new ASIC model will be capable of, but the company's existing (and currently sold out) Antminer S19j ASIC achieves a 90TH/s hashrate using its last generation of custom processor. It does draw 3,100 Watts of power, costs over $5,000, and weighs 14.2kg, in order to achieve such a high rate, though.
While news of a new ASIC using the most advanced 5nm fabrication process available might be music to the ears of serious cryptocurrency miners, it's sure to have device makers worried. Chip manufacturing is already under huge pressure to meet demand, and TSMC is facing a serious water shortage in Taiwan on top of that. Bitmain's order only adds to the pressure, but TSMC clearly wouldn't agree to production if it didn't think it had the spare capacity. Anyone attempting to place new chip orders in the future may end up with a different outcome, though.