Samsung Electronics has revealed it’s making chips designed particularly to reap crypto-currency cash.
The agency made the disclosure in its latest earnings report, the place it mentioned the exercise ought to enhance its income.
The report additionally confirmed that the South Korean firm overtook Intel to turn out to be the largest chipmaker final yr.
And it forecast robust demand for its forthcoming Galaxy S9 smartphone, which is because of be revealed on 25 February.
Samsung Digital’s fourth quarter web revenue totalled 12.3tn received ($11.5bn; £eight.1bn), which was roughly consistent with analysts’ expectations.
However its shares jumped almost 9% after the corporate revealed that it was splitting its inventory 50-to-1, which ought to encourage commerce within the asset.
For now, Samsung is offering little element about its new crypto-currency enterprise.
“Samsung’s foundry enterprise is at present engaged within the manufacturing of crypto-currency mining chips,” it mentioned in an announcement given to the BBC.
“Nevertheless we’re unable to reveal additional particulars concerning our clients.”
Mining, on this context, refers to fixing advanced mathematical issues as a way to confirm crypto-currency transactions – a job for which the house owners of the computer systems concerned are rewarded with new digital tokens or “cash”.
The Bell, a Korean-language newspaper, has reported that the processors involved are Asic (application-specific built-in circuit) chips.
These are chips which are custom-designed to hold out a single job – on this case “mining” Bitcoin or one other particular crypto-currency – however not normal computing operations.
Till 2013, Asic chips have been extra generally related to the TV trade.
However that yr, a New York-based entrepreneur started selling processors custom-designed for Bitcoin mining, which promised higher efficiency and decrease vitality use than GPU (graphics processing unit) chips, that are nonetheless extra generally related to the duty.
In latest months, a scarcity of high-end GPU playing cards has pushed up their costs, making the rival Asic expertise much more interesting.
Based on The Bell, Samsung accomplished growth of its personal Bitcoin-related Asic chip final yr and started mass manufacturing earlier this month.
Till now, Taiwan’s TSMC was the one different main processor-manufacturer engaged within the exercise.
One professional mentioned Samsung’s transfer represented a guess that Bitcoin’s rise in worth doesn’t symbolize a bubble that’s about to burst.
“We do not know the way low Samsung can promote its chip for and nonetheless be worthwhile,” mentioned Garrick Hileman, a crypto-currency researcher from the College of Cambridge.
“But when Bitcoin’s worth have been to break down and enter a bear market like in 2014 to 2015, one would surprise if Samsung would stick with this line of enterprise by such a flip.”
Taking prime spot
Samsung’s newest enterprise coincided with information that its semiconductors division logged 74.3tn received ($69.6bn; £49.1bn) of gross sales final yr.
That compares with a determine of $62.8bn reported by Intel last week.
It marks the primary time the US agency has not occupied the highest spot since 1992, in accordance to the Bloomberg news agency.
A lot of Samsung’s success is right down to the recognition of its reminiscence chips – it highlighted demand from the pc server and cellular system storage markets particularly.
Intel is hoping to extend its personal market share within the sector by offering a new proprietary memory technology called 3D Xpoint, which it started promoting final yr.
Nevertheless, it dangers being distracted by the necessity to redesign its processor chips after a flaw with their present architecture was recently revealed.
Printed at Wed, 31 Jan 2018 16:53:25 +0000