At ISSCC 2022, Intel shared in-depth details of its new Bitcoin Bonanza Mine mining ASICs and explained how it merges 300 of these tiny power-efficient chips into a powerful 3,600W miner that offers up to at 40 THash/s performance. [EDIT: We have since found the specifications and pricing for the newer model that is shipping to customers, which you can read about here.]
We first discovered Intel’s Bonanza Mine ASICs in a listing for a presentation at ISSCC Conference 2022, and the information below comes from presentations at the event. This hardware covers Intel’s first-generation mining chips, known as BZM1, but the company has already moved to its second-generation “Bonanza Mine” ASIC, known as BZM2, which it is now upgrading to. available to customers to challenge the likes of Bitmain and MicroBT.
After news of the company’s efforts broke, Intel finally officially acknowledged its blockchain/Bitcoin silicon program, revealing that it already had several big customers for the second-generation chips. This includes BLOCK (led by CEO Jack Dorsey of Twitter fame), Argo Blockchain, and GRIID Infrastructure.
Intel has yet to share details of the second-generation chips and systems, but we do know that they are derivatives of the BZM1 ASICs shown below.
Here we can see the BZM1 chip in its rather small 7 x 7.5 mm (132 ball) exposed-die FCLGA package. As you will see below, 300 of these chips power the system.
Each chip die measures 4.14 x 3.42 mm, for a total of 14.16 mm^2 of silicon, so these are relatively small shards of silicon. The smaller die size improves throughput and maximizes wafer surface utilization (up to 4,000 dies per wafer), helping to maximize throughput (although it does require a larger die capacity). cutting/packaging of the wafers). Intel says it’s 7nm ASIC, but doesn’t specify if it’s its own “Intel 7”, the original 7nm before renaming the process node to “Intel 4” , or TSMC’s 7nm process.
Each Bonanza Mine ASIC has 258 mining engines, and each engine computes parallel SHA256 double hashes. These motors make up 90% of the die area and operate at what Intel calls an “ultra-low” voltage of 355 mV.
Each ASIC operates between 1.35 and 1.6 GHz at 75°C, consuming an average of 7.5 W each while reaching up to 137 Ghash/s. This is equivalent to 55 J/THash/s at 355 mV.
Zooming in on the 300 chips in the system, there’s a total of 4,248 mm^2 of silicon that delivers up to 40 TH/s at 3,600 W of power consumption. It is clear that Intel will have to be much more competitive against existing miners from Bitmain and MicroBT. For example, Bitmain’s Antmienr S19j Pro 104T does 104 THash/s at 3068W, while the newest model, the S19j XP, does 140 THash/s at 3010W. Again, these are the Intel’s first-generation Bonanza Mine chips, but its new deals are for second-generation “BZM2” models that remain shrouded in mystery.
Intel is soldering on 75 Bonanza Mine ASICs per hash board, arranged in 25-deep voltage stacks with paired stack voltages. The hash board also houses a microcontroller that handles power-on and thermal/battery voltage monitoring. A 10MB/s UART serial link mixes data between the chips and the control unit that sits atop the complete system.
Here we can see both block diagram and full system images. Four hash cards sit vertically in a single unit with four fans keeping the system cool.
The control unit sits at the top of the device, housing an Intel-FPGA-based system controller and an Arm Cortex core that runs the mining daemon and distributes work among the 300 chips. The ARM core also adjusts on-chip PLLs to control chip frequencies and verify ASIC hash results. As you would expect, the unit also has an Ethernet connection to communicate with a larger mining pool. The system also has a programmable power supply.
As shown above, the system can operate in different power/thermal profiles, such as power saving, balancing, and high performance, to match the usage profile, thus producing between 54 and 60 J /THash.
Intel built the system described above from the first generation Bonanza Mine chips. However, Intel’s second generation chips can obviously be used in several configurations: GRIID supply agreement with Intel contains many redactions to protect sensitive information, but it also heavily references Intel’s reference design materials. This is a series of documents that customers use as a guide when integrating Bonanza Mine chips into their own custom systems.
This implies that Intel will supply the silicon to some of its customers, who will then create their own systems. It also fits well with Jack Dorsey’s plans for BLOCK, which he says will create a “customized, open-source silicon-based bitcoin mining system for individuals and businesses around the world.” Of course, Intel could also manufacture complete mining systems and release them through partners, but we’ll have to wait to hear more about its go-to-market strategy.
Intel’s first-generation Bonanza Mine chip sets a promising tone for its second-generation Bonanza Mine chips that are already making their way to customers. However, there are still a lot of unknowns about the technical details of the second generation chips, like performance, efficiency, price, power consumption, process node, foundry used, etc. We also don’t know Intel’s plans for its future roadmap.
Intel has a question and answer session scheduled at the ISSCC later this week, and we’ll provide more information after that.
Update 02/20/2020: Added Bitmain performance details.