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Analyst: Crypto Mining Giant Bitmain Losing Its Edge As Demand Dwindles

Chinese tech conglomerate Bitmain has been the dominant force in crypto mining for the past year. However according to analysts at Sanford C Bernstein & Co. it may be losing its edge as rival firms enter the market and demand dwindles as markets continue to decline.

In a report by the SCMP it was suggested that the company may have to write down the value of its inventory. According to the analysts the company which produces the chips designed by Bitmain, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), should ask the firm to make full prepayments and refrain from adding capacity solely for cryptocurrency-related demand.

Bitmain currently controls 85% of the market for crypto mining hardware and has a planned a multi-billion dollar IPO in the near future. However the firm is facing growing competition from rivals such as Canaan and Ebang International Holdings, which are also working on Hong Kong IPOs. In recent days a number of companies and investors have denied participating in Bitmain’s fund raising efforts earlier this year.

Following a crypto market decline of over 70% this year demand for mining hardware has also fallen. As a result speculation regarding Bitmain’s finances has risen and unverified investor documents regarding its business have appeared online. This has prompted concern over the company’s resilience to tumbling cryptocurrency prices.

According to Mark Li at Bernstein “Bitmain has likely been acquiring large amounts of Bitcoin Cash, posing a “major risk” as the bitcoin offshoot’s value declines.” BCH has lost almost 70% since its early May price of $1,730 according to coinmarketcap.com. Bitcoin conversely has only dropped around 30% in the same period.

Regardless, the company has made a fortune in the past year to the tune of $3 to $4 billion according to Bernstein. Its ASICs hardware still dominates the top mining pools making Bitcoin extremely Bitmain reliant, the closest it gets to centralization. According to Trustnodes it almost achieved 51% of the hashrate in June as BTC.com and Antpool, both owned by Bitmain, approached the critical level.

If markets continue to fall companies that profit from them will undoubtedly lose their edge. However crypto is still in its infancy and a market recovery in 2019 could see Bitmain and other crypto focused companies flying high once again.

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Japan’s Tech Giant Sony Offers Solutions for Boosting Blockchain Hardware in Two Patents

Japanese electronics giant Sony has filed two patents for boosting blockchain-based ecosystems, according to filings 20180218027 and 20180219686 published by the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO) Aug. 2.

Through the patents, Sony intends to improve the design and structure of blockchain hardware by introducing new circuitries to the processes of distributed ledger technology.

The first application, entitled “Electronic Node and Method for Maintaining a Distributed Ledger,” describes an electronic device for maintaining a blockchain based on multiple electronics nodes, including multiple blocks associated with at least one of the existing blocks.

The patent explains a scheme of adding new blocks on а distributed ledger in a compressed format, which contributes to the establishment of а competitive manner of nodes that perform mining process, implying that a smaller block produced by the node can be achieve a bigger reward.

In the second patent “Device and System,” Sony proposes a way of maintaining a blockchain by multiple virtual nodes, suggesting a mechanism of accessing the distributed ledger via at least one of these nodes.

By incorporating virtual nodes, Sony intends to ensure the integrity of the blockchain in cases “where the number of devices is small or becomes small;” for example, if a number of devices went down.

Founded in 1946, the Sony Corporation had previously paid tribute to the fast growing technology of blockchain; however, the latest patents are the company’s first introduction into a hardware system of distributed ledger.

In 2017, the multinational conglomerate filed a patent application for a blockchain-powered multi-factor authentication system (MFA), proposing a combination of two different distributed ledgers to conduct the login process.

Also in 2017, Sony partnered with tech giant IBM to develop an educational platform based on blockchain to provide secure sharing of student records.

Recently, U.S. retail giant Walmart applied for a patent on the management of smart appliances via blockchain, which would maintain the private keys in order to authorize a transaction. Earlier in July, Bank of America (BoA) filed a patent for a blockchain-powered system of data validation that offers tracking of sources of information by confirming resource transfers.

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Sony Patent Filings Hint at Work on Crypto Mining Hardware

Japanese technology giant Sony wants to patent two hardware approaches for hosting and maintaining blockchains, newly published documents show.

Sony’s two filings are entitled “Electronic Node and Method for Maintaining a Distributed Ledger” and “Device and System,” revealing for the first time that the company is working on blockchain-related hardware concepts. They also set the stage for the company to potentially include these devices in a future product.

In the past, as previously reported by CoinDesk, the tech company has filed patent applications centered largely around the technology’s use cases, including education data management and security.

The first application includes two elements: a hardware node and a method for maintaining the blockchain, which it repeatedly describes as a “mining process.” Indeed, in one incarnation of the proposed invention, the nodes would operate a network that’s akin to bitcoin’s, which is an open-access network with a token.

As the application explains:

“The distributed ledger may be a blockchain, which may be based, for example, on the principles used for the bitcoin blockchain or the like. The distributed ledger uses mining and proof-of-work mechanisms and it may use some kind of reward (currency), such as bitcoin as currency and/or as reward for performing mining. Moreover, the distributed ledger may use consensus mechanisms for ensuring that all electronic nodes have consensus about the distributed ledger.”

This isn’t to say that Sony is launching its own cryptocurrency. But here, it seems that Sony is leaving the door open to the possibility by establishing the claim that its proposed invention could serve that purpose.

In the second application, “Device and System,” Sony hones in on the security risks in a network that only has a small number of nodes.

Because “the number of devices accessing and contributing to the distributed ledger may be small, such that security issues occur,” Sony proposes essentially boosting that number through the use of virtual nodes. The device proposed in that filing would “[host] a plurality, e.g. 10, 100 or even thousands of virtual nodes, such that the number of virtual nodes may be much higher, e.g. ten times larger, than the [total] number of devices.”

Ultimately, the submissions appear less focused on the type of distributed ledger and more on the hardware and operational methods themselves. Sony indicates that the networks could be public or private, and could rely on either Sony’s own software or “distributed database technologies like Hadoop,” as one of the filings states.

Sony image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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HTC Exodus Blockchain-Centric Smartphone Is Set To Release Later This Year

HTC, a Taiwan-based electronics hardware manufacturer, announced their Exodus phone earlier this year. As per previous reports, the Exodus was touted as the “world’s first major blockchain phone.”

The media went into a frenzy over this announcement, with many speculating about how this would change the blockchain and cryptocurrency scene.

But at the time of the original announcement, no one knew exactly what the device would entail, and what blockchains it would support. Phil Chen, an HTC executive, gave an ambitious statement in May, stating: 

We envision a phone where you hold your own keys, you own your own identity and data, and your phone is the hub.

In this most recent announcement, HTC gave more details in regard to the Exodus Blockchain smartphone, clearing the air around this hot topic.

Unfortunately, Chen noted that HTC’s plan for an “own your own identity and data” smartphone will not come to fruition in the form of the Exodus, but rather in a later release.

Yesterday, the HTC executive told The Verge that Exodus’s blockchain support will come in the form of an in-house crypto wallet and a CryptoKitties service integration. These features being a far cry from the ambitious plans HTC held preceding this announcement.

However, the HTC team still has high hopes for these two features. More specifically, Chen claims that the built-in wallet will be “the most secure hardware wallet out there,” possibly surpassing the security of cold wallet solutions like the Ledger and Trezor.

In terms of the unexpected CryptoKitty support, the executive hopes that the gamification of the blockchain will entice ‘no-coiners’ to give the Exodus a shot. He elaborated, noting:

Gaming is the most approachable thing on mobile, for the non-crypto crowd.

Despite these features disappointing some, Chen mentioned that there are plans in place to implement mobile cryptocurrency mining. He later added that there is already “famous” experts looking into a variety of different consensus protocols that might make Exodus mobile mining a reality. The HTC employee noted that the Taiwan-based firm might even release a white paper later this year, giving more details about this mining system.

However, these features do not come at a cheap price, as Chen implied that preliminary estimates will put the retail cost of the Exodus at approximately $1000. One must assume that top of the line hardware will be an integral part of this blockchain smartphone, or HTC would have no chance at selling this device at all.

HTC Exodus: An All Or Nothing Play For The Hardware Manufacturer?

When taking a look at HTC’s recently released financial statements, it becomes easy to tell that prospects are looking rather grim for the company. According to CNET, HTC’s sale figures dropped a staggering 68%, while compared with last year’s financials.

The manufacturer has been having a rough time trying to compete with smartphone giants, Apple and Samsung. The Verge pointed out that sales for the company have taken a tumble, from two million products in 2017 Q1 to just 630,000 at the start of this year. As a result, the Taiwan-based firm intends to lay off 1,500 employees in an attempt to bring its bottom line to a more sustainable level.

In short, HTC is in a precarious financial situation and has troubled to stay afloat in the unforgiving smartphone market. But many speculate that the company is riding on the success of the Q3 Exodus release, as a successful launch of this phone could see HTC move to clearer waters.

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H370 Mining Master is The Miner’s Dream With Support for 20 GPUs

Asus has announced THE motherboard for GPU miners around the world: The new H370 Mining Master, which can handle up to 20 GPUs.

The world of mining has always been marked by the imperative need to measure the cost/benefit ratio millimetrically. However, with the boom in cryptocurrencies during the year 2017, this activity also increased exponentially.

Such was the success of crypto mining that the business became key to the revenue of major manufacturers such as ASUS, AMD, and NVIDIA.

The RX580 GPU: Great for gaming… and for mining

The depletion of GPU stock eventually led to recognizing mining as a serious market opportunity, despite the indifferent opinions expressed by some representatives.

It was not only the gaming industry that was affected, but many other projects such as SETI also had to call for consciousness in order to continue to exist. Mining nearly ended the search for extraterrestrial life.

ASUS is one of the leading manufacturers of computer hardware. Their motherboards and high-performance equipment are very popular among technophiles.

The use of mining rigs has been extremely popular due to the importance that Ethereum has had in the sphere of cryptocurrencies.

A mining rig is a piece of equipment that puts multiple GPUs to work simultaneously and exclusively, achieving excellent hash power.

However, traditional motherboards have support for up to 4 GPUs, while some more popular motherboards among miners support between 6 and 8 GPUs.

That is when ASUS tried to make a difference in 2017 with the ASUS B250 Mining Expert. A motherboard with 19 PCIe slots, beating any other competitor.

However, at that time it was difficult to adopt as the GPUs manufacturers only allowed a connection of 8 cards.This meant that miners were initially only able to have 16 cards of which 8 were NVIDIA and 8 AMD.

A Mining Rig: 16 GPUs, 3 PSUs and the ASUS B250 / Courtesy: ASUS

The B250 had a price of $169.99, and despite the limitations, it was a notable success in the industry.

H370 Mining Master: The Revolution of Mining Hardware

In the middle of 2018, the new H370 Mining Master represents an evolution over the previous model, with a lot of new features that can make it the dream of all miners:

The H370 Mining Master: Note the 20 slots on the right and the 3 PSU slots on the back / Courtesy: ASUS

The first thing that stands out is the support for 20 GPUs. Now users will have every single slot inmediatly available.

Supporting such a large amount of GPUs means significant savings by not having to purchase additional motherboards for the same job.

Also, each motherboard requires its own PSU, RAM, and CPU. For this reason, the H370 Mining Master can save thousands of dollars for hardcore miners.

GUI to detect errors on the GPUs

Another of the critical points of this new motherboard is the possibility of efficiently diagnosing errors using software designed specifically for this purpose.

Other key features of the H370 Mining Master are the support up to 3 PSUs individually, the replacement of x1 slots by vertical PCIe-over-USB to avoid riser failure, and HDMI + DVI support for dual screen monitoring if needed.

The H370 Mining Master will be available to the public on Q3 2018 those attending the Computex 2018 Conference in Taipei at the ASUS booth, #M410 in Nangang Hall, from June 5-9 will be able to test it sonner

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Cryptocurrency Mining Altering Hardware Distribution

Financial markets continue to be flipped upside-down by the volatility of cryptocurrency. Late 2017 saw new investors flock to budding exchanges in hopes of profiting off the latest e-fad. Anyone who pursued the unsustainable high of short-term day trading quickly felt the harsh reality of the market to start the new year. Many of the most recognizable tokens in cryptocurrency continue to plummet, headlined by the Bitcoin (BTC). Dubbed the “gateway drug” of crypto by DataTrek Research co-founder Nicholas Colas, recent faults have perplexed under-educated traders.

Two types of rookies broke into the arena last year. The first was the armchair trader. Greatly publicized in the latter half of 2017, those interested in the attractive opportunity created exchange accounts across the globe. Some had the financial privy to take a quick profit and empty any holdings they had. Others continue to hold through recent struggles in hopes of minimizing their losses. Similar to poor stock, approaches vary. Some believe in taking a loss, others advocate for holding steady, some believing in doubling down. Regardless of intent, collecting on lost value is like playing online blackjack. Anyone can believe they know how to beat the game, but control is not in his/her hands. Larger bets could quickly recoup losses with the risk of a sharper drop in value should things turn downwards.

The other persona was the digital miner. Bitcoin most famously broke into conversational circles as its high cost mining expenses had the potential to yield major profits. As the token developed those margins began to shrink. More and more coins have been using a public mining system during this same time period. The result is an escalation in price of required equipment and a loss of value for coins yielded. PC builders will know better than any other group about the cost explosion. Computer GPU’s are out of stock across the market, and when they become available prices are outlandish.

With the cost to break into the mining process rising and the earnings falling, companies are producing alternatives. South Korean super power Samsung is now involved in the crypto-market following their own developments. New hardware designed specifically for Bitcoin mining is expected to begin production next month. Samsung will work in partner with a Chinese distributor to whom they will provide the required GDDR6 DRAM chips.

Remarkably, not even Samsung knows the potential in cryptocurrency. A Samsung rep relayed to media, “Since Samsung has just begun its cryptocurrency mining venture, it is unsure of the revenues it can generate from it.” Korean and Japanese countries are at the forefront of progressive names in crypto, but a volatile market hurts revenue streams. A mogul like the multinational conglomerate bodes well for the investors that have failed to part ways with their coins at present. Until any true contributions are made, though, all optimism is tied simply in speculation.