Intel Goes ASIC: What We Know About the BZM1 and BZM2
Updated: Apr 19, 2022
Intel released the specifications for their first generation of application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) miners earlier this year at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC). Their first generation 'Bonanza Miner' (BZM1) will contain 300 chips on four separate boards with each chip computing parallel SHA-256 double hashes. The BZM1 is a bit underwhelming when compared to top-of-the-line ASIC systems available today as a system. I say system because each BZM1 only pushes 40Th/s.... BUT, that is not necessarily bad once your realized that they are projected to be much more efficient. Intel has made it very clear that efficiency is their primary objective. Intel has been in R&D with these chips for a few years, filing for a patent in 2018 that proposed a 15% reduction in power consumption. Thats a big deal. Anandtech gives us a good chart of individual chip and overall system comparisons between other industry leading miners and the BZM1. (Shown below)
Figure B: W/Th = j/Th/s (1 Watt = 1 Joule (j) / Second (s)) (Th or TH= Terahash)
So, the BZM1 is only hitting ~40Th/s with a power supply rated for 3600W. 40Th at 3600W = 90W/Th....so why are they claiming 18.2 W/Th? At first glance this appears confusing and wrong. The 3600W rating means that the power supply can handle 3600 Watts, not that the machine will be running at 3600W. So why would the BZM1 come with such a beefy PSU when it should only need 728W to run at 40Th/s? (Figure C) Hopefully because they will contain native overclocking firmware provided by Intel upon release. There have also been rumors that the stock intel firmware will contain preset modes allowing miners to switch between aggressive and passive mining modes depending on how efficient they want their machine(s) to be.
Figure C: 18.2W/Th * 40Th = 728 W
S19j pro’s run at 29-30W/Th with an average hashrate of 104 Th/s. They can be overclocked to 140Th but the wattage jumps to 4880W when one does this, raising the efficiency to 34.86W/Th*. This gets an asterisk because S19j Pro's are often not stable above 120-125Th/s overclocks. To become stable at such hashrates takes a great deal of individual chip tuning somewhat like creating a throttle map when turbocharging a vehicle. This creates downtime which is lost profit and can absolutely damage chips if done incorrectly.
Now zoom out, the largest U.S.-based chipset manufacturer is now in full support of bitcoin. There is much talk of Intel purchasing agreements for these miners with large industry leading companies dating as far back as September of 2021, but there is little to no information about when these will be available for purchase to the public. As of early 2022 the BZM1 miners are scheduled for release in late 2022/early 2023 but nothing for sure. Intel is already in production of its second generation BZM2 chips but that will have to wait for another day when there are more details.
To conclude, Intel is known for creating chips that are designed to be overclocked. Many of their current CPU's (central processing unit) for desktop computers can usually double their base processing speed and are very efficient when doing so. This is just the beginning in another large step for bitcoin that we will discuss for years. Right now, most ASIC distributors are hard to find, shady, and just flat out risky. Most miners get their machines from Hong Kong and firmware from Russia. Hopefully, within a year, we will be able to get both from an American company.