Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining has become a growing industry, and mining operations continue to compete by making faster chips and purchasing large quantities of land to host data facilities all over the world. Data recorded from around the globe shows the mining economy is booming and the venture has become very profitable for many mining operations and chip manufacturers. For instance, this week it was revealed by regional reports that the Chinese firm, Bitmain Technologies, raked in 14.3 billion yuan ($2.3billion USD) in revenue last year from sales.
Mining Proves to Be One of Cryptocurrency’s Most Profitable Sectors
Mining cryptocurrencies like bitcoin has become very profitable for those who know how to obtain cheap electricity and operate a sound business. The ecosystem has spread as Graphics processing unit (GPU), and Application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chip manufacturers are making lots of money from the mining industry.
Public shares from companies like AMD, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), and many others have spiked considerably this past year. It turns out, that still to this day, churning out complicated math problems to find blocks is one of the hottest sectors in the cryptocurrency space, and this phenomenon will likely continue. One example is the 16-nanometer mining chip that has been an industry standard for quite some time, but now 12nm, 10nm, and 7nm chips are coming in the near future.
China’s Two Dominant Mining Manufacturing Businesses
One firm, Bitmain Technologies, has been a top mining chip manufacturer for a very long time delivering mass-produced ASIC rigs featuring 28nm, 16nm semiconductors. A recent disclosure from China’s Digitimes details that Bitmain had reportedly ordered 100,000 12nm chips from TSMC and the order was marked “urgent.” Alongside the order, according to the publications 8BTC and Applancer, the Chinese mining firm Bitmain Technologies revenue in 2017 was 14.3 billion yuan ($2.3billion USD). The report says that “Bitmain has become China’s second largest IC design company, ranked only second to Hisilicon.” With many companies entering the industry, Bitmain is relentlessly holding its top position in the cryptocurrency mining economy.
Another company that’s done very well last year is China’s Canaan Creative a firm that also creates digital currency miners. The Avalon bitcoin mining chip manufacturer attracted investors in May of last year raising 300m yuan ($43Mn USD). A week later Canaan acquired the first document timestamping service for the bitcoin core blockchain called Proof of Existence. According to the reports, Canaan has been developing 7nm semiconductor chip designs and has plans to enter the Artificial Intelligence (AI) market. Coincidently Bitmain is also attempting to enter the AI market with its custom-designed semiconductor hardware.
Bitfury Is Still Dabbling In the Mining Industry
The blockchain firm Bitfury created in 2011 has said it has been making a lot of money this year as the company claims to be generating $100Mn USD annually. Although, it’s also been reported that the company doesn’t like to be referred to as a ‘mining company’ anymore, but still seems to dabble in the industry.
Nevertheless, the company still has a mining pool, but it doesn’t command the hashrate it used to years ago, capturing only 1.7 percent of the network’s processing power. Further, the company’s website sells a mobile bitcoin mining unit called the ‘Blockbox,’ and it still sells custom 16nm semiconductor chips. The company hasn’t shown any signs of designing a new semiconductor smaller than the 16nm. Bitfury has also pivoted its business in many different directions with ideas like lightbulbs that mine bitcoin, and blockchain surveillance services. At the same time, the firm has recently claimed to be building the biggest mining operation in North America.
New Fish or Sharks Will Swim Among the Whales
All of these current mining conglomerates have some competition coming soon as there are a few companies aiming to join the mining industry with superior technology. For instance, the Japanese firm, GMO Internet Inc, just recently announced the successful completion of 12nm Fin FET Compact (FFC) semiconductor chips. After completing this task, GMO says the feat has brought them closer “towards realizing a […] 7 NM process technology for mining chips.”
Another Japanese firm that is making waves in the mining industry is the e-commerce and internet conglomerate DMM Group. The firm has started its own mining operations and a “crypto mining lab” that plans to research and develop “the highest per unit hash power” in custom DMM machines.
According to reports last week, the well known Korean electronics manufacturer Samsung is entering the bitcoin hardware and semiconductor market. Allegedly Samsung’s foundry is manufacturing 10-nanometer chips for both GPU and ASIC devices.
It’s safe to say the mining industry will continue to be a very lucrative business, but there have been many failed operations along the way like Butterfly Labs, Black Arrow Software, Hashfast, Vmc, and Cointerra. Some of the older companies like Canaan and Bitmain still have to keep their guard up as new entrants come into the market with faster processors. However, the revenues and funding these existing companies received this year continues to give them a competitive edge until the newcomers prove their devices and semiconductors are what they claim.