Mining crypto

FPGAs threaten small-cap altcoins as Xilinx enters crypto mining

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Xilinx, a Fortune 1000 semiconductor company specializing in FPGAs, is entering the crypto mining market, sources said. This poses a threat to coins with “vulnerable” mining algorithms such as Ravencoin, Nervos and others.

Xilinx is a semiconductor company with a market cap of over $24 billion. Recently, leaked communications within the company show that they are getting into crypto mining with FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays). This segment has always been dominated by Nvidia and AMD GPUs.

Previously, the company mainly served other hardware designers in this market, such as SQRL, which designs specialized FPGAs for cryptocurrency mining.

An FPGA is a type of chip that allows a miner to configure it to efficiently operate different algorithms, and therefore different parts. This capability may even allow FPGAs to withstand algorithm hardforks designed to thwart specialized hardware, such as those employed by Monero. ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits), on the other hand, are locked in mining to a single algorithm, like Bitcoin’s SHA256.

Crypto Briefing spoke with SQRL CEO David Stanfill. He said of FPGAs:

“In the hardware world outside of crypto-mining ASICs, the unfolding event over the past year and a half has been the gradual replacement of GPU farms with new high-end FPGA-based accelerators. Nothing like the small FPGAs that briefly existed in the early days of Bitcoin.

Now sources say that Xilinx is now building its own FPGAs geared towards large-scale mining farms. Stanfill claims that Xilinx, one of their partners, copied these designs from SQRL.

“I believe our chips are gaining popularity in the crypto community. I don’t believe the U50 is specifically aimed at this market,” said a Xilinx representative.

Meanwhile, leaked images of the designed device describe it as a “crypto card” and advertise that it is designed to “mine crypto”.

Leaked image of the U50C crypto card by Xilinx

“Their new cards are able to mine every coin and every chain, almost always more efficiently than GPUs,” Stanfill added.

These FPGAs pose a threat to smaller altcoins and less commonly used mining algorithms. Coins such as GRIN, Beam, Monero and Ethereum are still mostly GPU-dominated, said Kristy-Leigh Minehan, former CTO of Core Scientific and a 10-year mining veteran. She added:

“Right now, FPGAs are mostly focused on low-liquidity parts with vulnerable or weak algorithms⁠—variants of Keccak, such as 0x, RVN (using x16r), CKB (which uses Eaglesong), and other coins Hardware distribution is still mostly locked in China with companies such as HashAltcoin (Blackminer) and their product F1.

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