Samsung Electronics has revealed it’s making chips designed particularly to reap crypto-foreign money cash.
The agency made the disclosure in its latest earnings report, the place it stated the exercise ought to increase its income.
The report additionally confirmed that the South Korean firm overtook Intel to turn into the most important 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 internet revenue totalled 12.3tn gained ($eleven.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-foreign money enterprise.
“Samsung’s foundry enterprise is at present engaged within the manufacturing of crypto-foreign money mining chips,” it stated in a press release given to the BBC.
“Nevertheless we’re unable to reveal additional particulars relating to our clients.”
Mining, on this context, refers to fixing complicated mathematical issues as a way to confirm crypto-foreign money transactions – a process 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 (software-particular built-in circuit) chips.
These are chips which might be customized-designed to hold out a single activity – on this case “mining” Bitcoin or one other particular crypto-foreign money – however not basic computing operations.
Till 2013, Asic chips have been extra generally related to the TV business.
However that yr, a New York-based mostly entrepreneur started selling processors custom-designed for Bitcoin mining, which promised higher efficiency and decrease power use than GPU (graphics processing unit) chips, that are nonetheless extra generally related to the duty.
In current months, a scarcity of excessive-finish GPU playing cards has pushed up their costs, making the rival Asic know-how much more interesting.
In line with The Bell, Samsung accomplished improvement of its personal Bitcoin-associated Asic chip final yr and commenced mass manufacturing earlier this month.
Till now, Taiwan’s TSMC was the one different main processor-producer engaged within the exercise.
One professional stated 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 understand how low Samsung can promote its chip for and nonetheless be worthwhile,” stated Garrick Hileman, a crypto-foreign money 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 marvel if Samsung would stick with this line of enterprise by means of such a flip.”
Samsung’s newest enterprise coincided with information that its semiconductors division logged seventy four.3tn gained ($sixty nine.6bn; £forty nine.1bn) of gross sales final yr.
That compares with a determine of $sixty two.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.
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