Bitmain Turns Its Attention Towards Artificial Intelligence As ASIC Resistance Debate Is Brewing
The world’s largest cryptocurrency mining company is looking to transform itself from the shovel seller that gets rich on miners into a forward-thinking innovator that embraces cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) as its ASIC miners resisted by an increasing number of PoW-based cryptocurrency developers.
A latest report indicates that Bitmain ranked second on the top 10 list of China’s chip design company in 2017 with sales of RMB 14.2 billion, second only to Huawei’s Hisilicon. At present, Bitmain dominates the market of Bitcoin mining ASICs(application-specific integrated circuit) , commanding over 80% of the market share.
But ASIC miners developed by the company have long invited criticism from cryptocurrency communities because their introduction has led to centralized mining and ASICs work against the decentralized feature of various cryptocurrencies.
Bitmain’s dominance in the bitcoin mining was partly responsible for the split of BCH from BTC last year. In mid-March, Bitmain launched its ASIC-powered Antminer X3, designed to mine the CryptoNight hashing algorithm used by Monero. However, Monero developers updated their software immediately with a new proof of work algorithm to resist Antminer X3 because Monero network does not want to become much more centralized.
Similarly, an Ethereum core developer Piper Merriam submitted an Ethereum Improvement Proposal(EIP) 958 in April, suggesting a hard fork in the Ethereum protocol to counter Bitmain’s F3 Ethereum ASIC miner.
With more miners starting to resist Bitmain’s control of cryptocurrency mining business, the Beijing-based mining hardware manufacturer realizes that it has to search other avenues for continual success.
Jihan Wu, co-founder of Bitmain said that his company has huge expansion plans for its bitcoin mining business in the United States during an recent interview with Bloomberg. Also, he added that Bitmain has plans to carve an entry into the artificial intelligence sector as well.
In fact, Bitmain ’s foray into AI started in 2015. In last December, the company released its AI brand “SOPHON”. The SOPHON BM1680 TPU is also the ASIC chip to enter AI market in mainland China, demonstrating the company’s strong ambition in the AI field.
On April 28, Bitmain teamed up with Bytom to launch an AI Lab at the 2018 Blockchain + Artificial Intelligence Summit Forum.It is believed that Bytom’s AI PoW mechanism and Bitmain’s abundant R&D experience in AI chip could be a strong boost to both the blockchain space and AI sector of the country.
Therefore, before being resisted by all blockchain communities, Bitmain is able to transform itself into an artificial intelligence chip company by virtue of a substantial capital base.