Chip technology behind the Bitcoin phenomenon

Ever wondered what the Bitcoin currency means to the electronics industry?

Century Link data center

Century Link data center

Well, there is a Bitcoin electronics ecosystem, and it seems to be growing.

An early developer of hardware systems for Bitcoin mining is US-based CoinTerra and it has recently expanded its business by acquiring Europe-based Bitcoin related software company Bits of Proof.

Dubbed the ‘virtual currency’, Bitcoin is a software-based online payment system which is based on open-source software.

Mining is the name given to the process of creating a currency transaction and adding it to Bitcoin’s global database of transactions. Called the block chain, this electronic database confirms all transactions on the network.

Essentially this is the basis of the currency as it ensures that each Bitcoin is only spent once. The hardware, essentially a network of data processing nodes, not only records transactions, it must also validate transactions. This is called ‘proof of work’ validation.

The hardware must be secure and tamper-resistant.

In the very early days of the Bitcoin the transactions were processed on networked PCs, but it was inevitable that more bespoke hardware was needed as the financial network proliferated.

The hardware needs to be scalable, as Bitcoin processing nodes can vary in size. The network is inherently large and so there is a requirement for the hardware to be low cost and energy efficient. This is why Asic design has been adopted by CoinTerra.

CoinTerra, based in Austin, Texas, develops scalable data processing hardware for Bitcoin mining datacentres. Called TruePeta, the hardware is based on an Asic.

The acquisition of Bits of Proof brings with it an implementation of the Bitcoin protocol which is scalable for large mining systems running on CoinTerra’s hardware.

It provides an auditable exchange for institutional investors and the back-end for hardware Bitcoin wallets.

“The software solutions developed by Bits of Proof and the expertise of Tamas Blummer represent an important piece of the enterprise mining puzzle that will allow us to grow our operations quickly and security at peak efficiency,” said Ravi Iyengar, CEO, CoinTerra.

“With CoinTerra, the Bits of Proof software stack is sure to become the industry standard software stack for Bitcoin in enterprises” said Tamas Blummer, v-p of enterprise software, CoinTerra.

The 28nm Asic is capable of processing 500Gigahash/s Bitcoin transactions and with power efficiency being the other important parameter, teh chip has a specfied power consumption of 0.5W/Gh/s.

The first GoldStrike Asic was taped out at Global foundries last November. It is used in the TeraMiner mining hardware which has specified performance of 2 Terahash per second.

The GoldStrike Asic is sold as a chip or as part of the TerraMiner IV system.

Budapest-based Bits of Proof introduced its first enterprise-ready Bitcoin server in 2013.

Tamas Blummer: “Given the pain we have seen developers endure while working to integrate with the Bitcoin protocol, we feel it is overdue. Our solution implements the consensus protocol compatible with Satoshi’s original proof of concept code, but enables rapid and easy deployment of extensions and applications on the Bitcoin network.”

CoinTerra has also signed an 18-month contract to have its infrastructure hosted by CenturyLink.

Bitcoin Foundation


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