What does the disruption of Intel tell us about cryptocurrency mining?

Leo Zhang

By Leo Zhang

In an epic post below, strategist Ben Thompson recounts the rise and fall of Intel, from its dominance in the chips industry for 35 years, to the series of missteps which turned its massive scale into a critical flaw. New manufacturers like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) embraced smaller-scale modular manufacturing, allowing them to work with an explosion of "fabless" companies that focus on nothing but design. One of those companies was a small ASIC manufacturer named Bitmain.

Intel and the Danger of Integration
(Stratechery, by Ben Thompson)

"Intel was largely successful. AMD did take the performance crown around the turn of the century with the Athlon 64, but the company was unable to keep up with Intel financially when it came to fabs, and Intel illegally leveraged its dominant position with OEMs to keep them buying mostly Intel parts; then, a few years later, Intel not only took back the performance lead with its Core architecture, but settled into the “tick-tock” strategy where it alternated new designs and new manufacturing processes on a regular schedule. The integration advantage was real."

The three-prolonged assault on Intel's dominance:

Screenshot-from-2018-06-26-20-21-49

It is common knowledge that the cryptocurrency mining space is heavily centralized. ASIC resistance is also one of the most heated discussion topics among the cryptocurrency communities. However, it is important to discern exactly where centralization lies. Is it the distribution of hashpower, availability of mining pools, diversity of the mining machines, or number of options for manufacturers? We know there are mega-mining companies, but it remains unclear how vertically integrated they are, and whether they conceal common ownership.

The next generation of mining startups will focus on providing highly customized chip solutions for exploring proof-of-work consensus for various applications. These "App Stores for chip design" could create a market large enough to bring about yet another wave of application-specific chip designers.

Technical Updates

Privacy is vital to crypto-and the global economy
(CoinDesk, by Michael J Casey)

"Fungibility is even more important to money. Our system of money requires that each dollar be completely interchangeable with any other dollar. For it to function perfectly, users can have no knowledge of the history of each of those dollars."

Empirical analysis of the Zcash blockchain

Defining and proving security of the Sapling Protocol

Vitalik comments on how to handle ZK-SNARK hacks

Bitcoin Q&A: Coin selection and privacy

Predecessors of Bitcoin

The anatomy of Satoshi's Place with LightningK0ala

"We discussed the software it’s running, the low-end hardware he’s using to process the lightning payments, and the API that has allowed some really creative interactions on the site. We also waxed philosophical about the value of games and comedy in stressful times."

The challenge of UX in Ethereum
(Anna Rose)

"But lack of good design can also cause major damage to the trust afforded the system — with users sending funds to the wrong addresses or making other avoidable mistakes. So if this is a technology that we eventually want the larger society to engage with, we need to change this attitude about UX."

On-chain governance further decentralizes cryptocurrency systems

Akamai: DDoS attacks on the rise, become more specialized
(CSO, by Ms. Smith)

"Since last year, there has been a 4 percent increase in reflection-based DDoS attacks, a 38 percent increase in application-layer attacks like SQL injection or cross-site scripting and 1.35 terabyte per second memcached reflector attack – the largest DDoS attack to hit the internet yet."

News & Commentary

The Tether conundrum part 2: the plot thickens
(Tony Arcieri)

"Tether issued an additional $1.3 billion worth of USDT tokens (including $250 million a day before this post was written), bringing the total outstanding issuance (i.e. what they claim to have backed 1:1 in their bank accounts) to over $3 billion."

Facebook is reversing its ban on cryptocurrency ads
(CNBC, by Jillian D'Onfro)

"Facebook's widespread ban is being lifted just as Google's has begun: The search giant announced in March that its own crackdown on cryptocurrency-related ads would begin in June."

Commentary on Facebook's flip-flop

PayPal launches debit card for its mobile app Venmo
(Reuters staff)

"With the debit card rollout, PayPal hopes to gain an edge over rivals in the increasingly competitive digital payments landscape, especially in the person-to-person sector."

40 years of Dow/Gold ratio