Intel on Tuesday said it begun wrapping up production of its first generation Blockscale cryptocurrency mining chips. The announcement comes only about a year after the Blockscale 1000 family's introduction, marking a fairly rapid turn of events for a product that, at one time, Intel was hoping would let them carve out a slice of a billion dollar business.

Intel initiated end-of-life process for its Blockscale 1000-series ASICs (models 1120, 1140, and 1160) on April 7, 2023. Customers who already use these chips must place their orders for the ASICs by October 20, 2023, and Intel will deliver its final Blockscale products to clients by April 20, 2024. 

Notably, Intel is closing out production of the Blockscale 1000 family without announcing any successor chips. While the company has confirmed to Tom's Hardware and Reuters that it is not exiting the cryptocurrency mining ASIC business entirely, noting that they "continue to monitor market opportunities," the lack of an immediate successor typically marks the end of the road for a struggling product line. Especially now, as Intel has been very publicly narrowing its product focus in recent months.

"As we prioritize our investments in IDM 2.0, we have end-of-lifed the Intel Blockscale 1000 Series ASIC while we continue to support our Blockscale customers," a statement by the company reads.

Tangentially, Tom's Hardware notes that by now Intel has removed virtually all of its Blockscale-related product pages, which essentially means that it is no longer promoting the chips – and likely isn't expecting much in the way of new orders, either.

Hive Blockchain was among the largest users of Intel Blockscale-based machines, the bespoke Hive BuzzMiners which the company designed itself and which promise hash rates between 110 TH/s and 130 TH/s. As of January, 2023, the company ordered production of 5800 of such systems and it is unclear whether any more units were planned to be acquired. Other notable Blockscale customers were Argo Blockchain, Block, and GRIID Infrastructure. It's notable that of the few public details of Intel's supply agreements with these customers, GRIID's initial orders for Intel's Blockscale hardware were set to wrap up in May of this year, which aligns closely with Intel's descision to wind-down the business.

First informally introduced by Intel in early 2022 at the annual ISSCC conference as "Bonanza Mine", Intel's Blockscale SHA-256 accelerator chips were developed by Intel's Custom Compute Group, which was part of the now-bifurcated Accelerated Computing Group (AXG). Apparently, there will be no AXG and no Blockscale at Intel any more. Meanwhile, Intel has axed quite a number of businesses ever since Pat Gelsinger returned to the company and was appointed CEO in early 2021.

Among other things, Intel divested its 3D NAND memory production and SSD operations, Optane SSDs and 3D XPoint development, laptop modem business, Barefoot switching unit, and pre-built servers business. This is part of a larger strategy to concentrate on a smaller number of core businesses in which Intel has higher influence and can achieve higher profit margins.

Source: Tom's Hardware & Reuters

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  • Threska - Wednesday, April 19, 2023 - link

    Intel showing Google the way to EOL things.
  • ballsystemlord - Wednesday, April 19, 2023 - link

    It's a shame that Intel prefers mining tech to Optane, which they canceled a while ago.
  • beaker7 - Wednesday, April 19, 2023 - link

    the article is literally about them EOLing their mining chips
  • boozed - Wednesday, April 19, 2023 - link

    I think the point is that the mining chips inexplicably lasted longer than Optane
  • ballsystemlord - Wednesday, April 19, 2023 - link

    Exactly my point!
  • edzieba - Thursday, April 20, 2023 - link

    Which would be a terrible point, being wrong:

    Optane ran for close to a decade (announced in 2015, but in development since 2012). It first shipped in 2017, and the last order date is end of December 2023.

    Blockscale was announced in June 2022, so has lasted less than a year. It first shipped in Q3 2022 and last order date is October 2023.

    By any measure, 6 years > 1 year.
  • PreacherEddie - Thursday, April 20, 2023 - link

    And what is shameful about a company choosing to focus on a market segment where they think they can make more money? I have no interest in cryptocurrency, but Intel thought they could make some money there. That how a free market system works.
  • ballsystemlord - Thursday, April 20, 2023 - link

    I was using this definition of the word shame, #3 in my electronic dictionary. "An unfortunate development."
    I was not trying to say that what Intel did is shameful.
  • Wereweeb - Thursday, April 20, 2023 - link

    Intel is a company, it's a money-making machine. Of course they'll stop developing anything innovative if it can't make them their money back within the patent expiration timeframe.

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