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CoinTerra wields 28nm ASIC in bitcoin arms race

Posted: 15 Aug 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:bitcoin? 28nm? ASIC? CoinTerra?

The design itself is geared only to solve the bitcoin crypto-puzzles and has a high degree of block reuse. "The design is very simple, a very small core repeated many times, so if you get the small core correct, you are correct for the big chip," he told EE Times.

CoinTerra is already well down the path to work on a next-generation ASIC made in a finer process technology. It would not say at which node or foundry.

Designers are applying new architecture ideas as well as the process shrink to their single focusreducing power density. "The next generation chip will have multiple times the performance in the same form factor and power envelopewe are working very hard to reduce the milliwatts per giga-hash per second," Barkatullah said.

Digital and analogue economies

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The TerraMiner uses liquid cooling for its two 250W boards. Source: CoinTerra

CoinTerra's chief technology officer, Timo Hanke, was a math professor teaching cryptography at Aachen University when he jumped ship to become part of the bitcoin craze. "I hadn't seen anywhere else a real world application like this of advanced cryptography," he told EE Times.

The potential of such de-centralized digital economies is still being explored. Hanke pointed to a rival, ASIC Miner, which issued shares of the company on a virtual bitcoin exchange. Regulators shut down the exchange but not before it landed investors a whopping 400 per cent return in virtual currency.

I didn't buy any shares because I thought it would get shut down," Hanke said. "It violates securities law which has not yet caught up with the technology," he said.

The horizon is still largely unexplored and includes talk of coloured coins for different kinds of exchanges. Hanke says the technology could be applied to selling anything from real estate titles to Internet domain names.

"This is a playground where people are experimenting with everything," he told the Hot Chips crowd. "There's a network effect driving towards a single currency, and the Sha-256 hash is a perfect fit because it's hard to solve but easy to verify," he said.

Gambling and crime networks also have explored using the virtual currency, casting a shadow over the technology. For now, CoinTerra operates in the analogue economy, selling its system for real money. So far the strategy seems to be working.

CoinTerra, founded in May 2013, is profitable. Not many start-ups are profitable in such a short time, but few are in such a headlong race to the money.

- Rick Merritt
??EE Times

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