As Bitcoin and Ethereum reach record-high prices, miners can increase their spending on hardware and companies developing mining ASICs waste no time rolling out new models. Bitmain, a designer of mining accelerators, has reportedly placed an order with TSMC to produce an ASIC using the foundry’s latest N5 fabrication process (5nm).
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. is expected to start making Bitmain ASICs using its N5 technology starting the third quarter of the year and ‘ramp up’ its output for Bitmain substantially in Q1 2022, reports DigiTimes. It is unclear how high demand for mining ASICs made using a leading-edge manufacturing technology will be, but it may well reduce TSMC’s ability to supply other chips that are designed for its N5 fabrication process.
TSMC’s N5 manufacturing technology offers industry-leading transistor density and power efficiency, just what the doctor ordered for mining ASICs. But these advantages come at a price. So far TSMC’s N5 process has been adopted by Apple and Huawei, two companies selling high-end smartphones, tablets, and PCs. For them, SoC prices are not as important as for companies selling chips (what they sell are $1,000+ gadgets, not silicon), so they can afford to be early adopters of TSMC’s advanced technologies. MediaTek, a mobile SoC company, is projected to adopt N5 technology shortly too, albeit for its top-of-the-range mobile processor.
As it turns out, Bitmain is a yet another company that can afford to develop an N5 design and order its production at TSMC. There is