Intel Arc GPU, Moore’s Law, and Crypto Mining in 2022


Intel’s new gaming chip is now available on laptops, and it’s being hailed by some in the crypto industry as a major disruptor to the cryptocurrency mining hash race.

Here’s a short primer on Moore’s Law from Intel:

“In 1965, Gordon Moore made a prediction that would set the pace for our modern digital revolution. From careful observation of an emerging trend, Moore extrapolated that computing would dramatically increase in power, and decrease in relative cost, at an exponential pace.”

Will the inexorable march of Moore’s Law lead to swift democratization of hash power on cryptocurrency networks, with home gaming computers and consoles making massive earnings spinning away at SHA-256 questions when they’re not busy creating visually lush, simulated environments for players to go pew-pew?

Perhaps, yes.

Here’s where we’re at on the consumer gaming hash power curve today.

Intel Arc Packs More Graphics Card Than Nvidia’s GA104

The first round of Intel’s new Arc graphics chips dropped this week, though for now, only the least powerful of the new line of graphics processors, the Arc 3s, are out for sale to the mass market. Still, the entry-level line of Arc chips is twice the speed of Intel’s integrated Xe graphics processors.

PC World’s Brad Chacos thusly hailed the arrival of the Santa Clara, California company’s new GPU: “The graphics card duopoly ended this week. For the first time in decades, we’re staring at a true three-way battle for gaming supremacy. Yes, Intel makes discrete graphics cards now.”

Per a recent report:

“According to their data, Intel ACM-G10 (previously referred to as DG2-512EU) is 406 mm² in size and has 21.7 billion transistors. Both values are bigger than AMD Navi 22 and NVIDIA GA104, supposedly the main competitors for this ARC GPU.”

The GPU wars are heating up now, but the technology is not only useful for incredible video gaming graphics (or visualizing roadways for autonomous vehicles). It will also play a pivotal role in the global economics of the cryptocurrency industry’s ever-going hash race.

Unless you pony up for an ASIC (an Application Specific Integrated Circuit chip), custom-designed to do nothing but solve SHA-256 hashing problems, or other commonly used standards in various proof of work mining cryptocurrency core implementations, the most practical consumer solution for mining cryptocurrency at home is GPUs.

Intel developed and launched a Bitcoin mining ASIC this year, the Bonanza chip. Hive Blockchain, a Canadian mining firm, struck a deal with Intel to supply chips for their operations earlier this year.

Fat Eyeballs and Fat Wallets

Because of the way Graphics Processing Units are architected, they are faster at solving these problems than CPUs, and in cryptocurrency mining, speed is everything. As Satoshi would have it, the nodes that keep the blockchain’s books in order on crypto networks are all in a literal race to be the one to solve the hash problem at some expenditure of electricity and computational cycles, qualifying the winning node to be the one to validate, sign, and place the next block of transactions on the chain, and award the winning miner a newly minted bit of Internet money.

In the case of Bitcoin, there’s a winner every ten minutes ever since the Satoshi blockchain launched in 2009. But to play, a miner has to have (and should secure) a device with the minimum system requirements to run a full node.

As of last year, there was initially some concern that Intel might build in a crypto mining defeater such as a software lockout to prevent using the chip to process requests from Bitcoin Core. Intel’s Senior Vice Presidents Raja Koduri and Roger Chandler put that to rest in an interview with Gadgets360, saying they wouldn’t block crypto mining on their GPUs.

“It’s not a priority for us,” Chandler said.

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