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Samsung has recently overtaken Intel as the world’s largest chip manufacturer, but the South Korean tech giant might have broader ambitions: recent reports suggest that it’s edging its way into the cryptocurrency mining industry, too.
Samsung has confirmed that it has begun manufacturing Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) chips. An ASIC chip is a specialized chip that’s used in cryptocurrency mining, and they can be much more efficient at the task than, say, a GPU (which are also used in mining).
The official announcement follows Korean media reports that claimed Samsung had made the move in partnership with an unnamed Chinese distribution partner. But while Samsung confirmed ASIC manufacturing to TechCrunch, it declined to comment on its collaborator. Local media outlet The Bell reported that Samsung began ASIC mass-production in January.
“Samsung’s foundry business is currently engaged in the manufacturing of cryptocurrency mining chips,” a Samsung spokesperson told TechCrunch. “However we are unable to disclose further details regarding our customers.”
Samsung already makes high-capacity memory chips for GPUs, which as stated above, are also used for crypto mining purposes. But its manufacturing of mining-specific hardware suggests that it’s ready to make a bigger move in the cryptocurrency industry.
The South Korean firm could certainly bring large-scale competition to the ASIC sphere, which is currently dominated by China-based crypto hardware-makers like Bitmain and Canaan Creative. Both of those companies work with Taiwanese giant and Apple supplier TSMC.
How Samsung will enter and change the cryptocurrency chip market is currently unclear, but its size could certainly allow it to rival TSMC as far as attracting attention from crypto mining firms. Whoever Samsung’s Chinese partner is, or even if the company decides to produce first-party mining chips itself, the China crypto mining market seems like it’ll a bit of a shakeup in the near future.
As far as the effect on Samsung’s bottom line, that’s also up in the air. TSMC, for example, has added roughly $350 to $450 million to its quarter revenues thanks to the cryptocurrency market explosion. Samsung, which already logged $69 billion in chip sales last year, could certainly stand to benefit.