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American Tech Giant Intel Files New Patent for Energy-Efficient Bitcoin Mining

Technology company Intel has filed a new patent aimed at reducing energy costs for Bitcoin mining by up to 15 percent.

U.S. technology giant Intel has filed a new patent for “energy-efficient high-performance Bitcoin mining,” according to a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) filing published Nov. 27.

The Intel patent is dedicated to a “hardware accelerator implementing SHA-256 hash using optimized data paths” and aims to reduce energy for Bitcoin (BTC) mining up to 15 percent, according to the publication. The documents states that “clusters of SHA engines may consume a lot of powers (e.g., at a rate of greater than 200 W),” adding:

“Embodiments of the present disclosure include energy-efficient ASIC-based SHA engines that consume less power for Bitcoin mining operations.”

Back this spring, Intel had already filed a patent aiming to reduce the amount of electricity consumed by crypto mining, “minimizing energy consumption per hash and maximizing performance per watt,” as Cointelegraph reported Mar. 30.

Previously this year, Intel partnered with Enigma, a decentralized application (DApp) platform, to launch its blockchain testnet to provide the first environment for scalable end-to-end DApps.

Another partnership with Intel was signed this fall, aiming to address “gaps in the market” for solutions that power enterprise blockchain systems, with software multinational company SAP. Later in October, Intel partnered with hardware startup firm Ledger to provide innovative solutions for digital currency and blockchain applications, Cointelegraph wrote Oct. 27.

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Intel, Software Multinational SAP Partner on Enterprise Blockchain Development Initiative

Intel and software multinational company SAP have announced that they are joining forces to address “gaps in the market” for solutions that power enterprise blockchain systems, according to an official Intel post September 4.

Intel and SAP write that their 25-year collaboration on enterprise infrastructure platforms has recently expanded to encompass blockchain technologies, spearheaded by the creation of a SAP-led global industry blockchain consortium.

The post outlines both companies’ blockchain initiatives to date, some of which aim to make the technology interoperable with the SAP HANA Data Management System, on which both companies have worked together closely to develop.

The SAP HANA Blockchain adapter reportedly integrates with SAP’s recently launched Cloud Platform Blockchain and enables SAP customers to “consume and build on blockchain data in SAP HANA using a SQL interface and standard SQL commands — both on-premise or in the cloud.”

SAP has also launched a Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) on the SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain, which allows customers to integrate enterprise and blockchain data using a pay-as-you-go model.

Intel, for its part, highlights its processor technology that it says can offer the capacity and speed to serve as the foundation for a range of blockchain applications. It further claims in the post that its Intel Software Guard Extensions (Intel SGX) can enhance security for blockchain source code and data and help “improve throughput and consensus efficiency.”

The post outlines SAP and Intel’s collaboration with other parties — including UPS, Flex, and HPE — to create a blockchain-based supply chain management proof-of-concept solution, dubbed International Trade.

Other SAP and Intel blockchain-related efforts include studies that analyze blockchain metrics in order to tackle network bottlenecks that can lead to slow throughput issues. Both companies are further addressing specific hardware configurations in an attempt to define parameters to create “technical standards for individual blockchain use cases,” the post notes.

As Cointelegraph has reported, Intel has this summer been focusing on privacy research in a partnership with decentralized application (DApp) platform Enigma, as the latter prepares to launch its blockchain testnet. Intel also has a range of blockchain-related partnerships spanning multiple industries, including healthcare, and has also collaborated with virtual currency hardware firm Ledger.

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Enigma’s Guy Zyskind: ‘I’m Pro-Whatever Kind of Blockchain Fits Decentralization Ideals’

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Cointelegraph recently spoke to Guy Zyskind, the founder and CEO of decentralized blockchain company Enigma and graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), about the future of blockchain protocols and where Enigma fits in.

During TechCrunch’s recent Ethereum Meetup in Zug, Switzerland, Zyskind elaborated on his successful experience teaching a blockchain course at MIT, as well as his regrets over missing out getting into crypto way back in 2010.

Molly Jane: First off, could you explain what the Enigma protocol is and how you originally ended up in the blockchain world?

Guy Zyskind: I’m Guy Zyskind, co-founder and CEO of Enigma. Enigma is building a platform for privacy-preserving smart contracts. We call it “secret contracts’” for the fact that no one’s internet network can actually see the data they are computing on. This is in contrast to public blockchains like Ethereum and pretty much everything there is today.

My background is that I was born and raised in Israel, moved five years ago the States and went to grad school at MIT. That’s really where I got interested in blockchain and the intersection of privacy. I published a few papers — one of them was the Enigma white paper — which was the predecessor to the platform that we’ve been building today.

MJ: How closely do Enigma and MIT work together?

GZ: I am working on Enigma full time. We are affiliated with MIT, so the MIT E14 fund [part of the MIT Media Lab] and the Engine Fund have invested in us. 

My professor, MIT’s advisor Sandy Pentland, is a co-founder and advisor to the company. We’re still very often at MIT, very connected to the ecosystem, but we’re not directly affiliated to MIT today.

MJ: Is what Enigma is doing with secret contract the first of its kind?

GZ: As far as we know, we’re the first of our kind. Definitely, when we started in 2015, that was like the first-time that privacy-preserving smart contracts came to us even as an idea, and I believe we have the first implementation in the world right now.

MJ: When was the first time you heard about Bitcoin? When was the first time cryptocurrency became a real concept for you?

GZ: That’s an unfortunate story. That was 2010. We had our own geeky, closed secret group of people and my friend was like, “Oh, there’s that cool thing Bitcoin. You should download it and we should start mining.” And we were all like, “Yeah, sure. Forget about it,” and it was 2010. Could have been really interesting.

I seriously got into it around 2013, so I started working on it in 2012. 2013 was when I got really hooked and, since then, I’ve been working on it full time.

MJ: You didn’t end up mining Bitcoin back in 2010, but are you investing in it now?

GZ: I hold some Bitcoin, I hold some Ethereum. Obviously, I hold Enigma. That’s pretty much it when it comes to the space.

MJ: So, you don’t like to play around with the market?

GZ: Honestly, I don’t have the bandwidth. I’m more in this for the tech. I’m more interested in building, I’m less in for investing. I think I’m a really poor investor.

MJ: On your website profile it says you’re a Bitcoin evangelist, so what are you doing at an Ethereum meetup today?

GZ: Well, I’m not a Bitcoin maximalist. I’m pro-decentralization, basically. I got hooked on Bitcoin because of the idea that you can do consensus at scale — at internet-scale — for the first time. That’s what took me in Bitcoin. I’m very much pro-Ethereum, pro-whatever blockchain that can fit those kind of ideals.

MJ: Could you explain in layman’s terms the difference between the Ethereum blockchain and the Bitcoin blockchain?

GZ: When Ethereum started, people were saying that Bitcoin does not allow you to do any type of computation, any type of application. It’s only mildly true. It’s true that Ethereum built a way to build more kinds of applications than just sending payments. I still think that both Bitcoin and Ethereum are basically giving us internet-scale consensus.

Having a system where you have different actors, different machines that can reach the same conclusion on some problem. In Bitcoin, the problem is starting the ledger in a way that everyone agrees on, even if they are dishonest or malicious.

To me, the big difference between Ethereum and Bitcoin is the ecosystem. Ethereum really made it possible and accessible for developers to start developing applications that can run not in one place, but in many places at once.

MJ: I’ve read that you taught a course on blockchain at MIT. Can you tell me how that went over?

GZ: Right. That was a few years ago. It was when the Digital Currency Initiative (DCI) was formed, and we were like, we have great students, great talent. There were a few of us. I and a few others were talking about it, we need more people working on blockchain at MIT, and they said, ok, let’s open a class.

I taught a class together with basically the head developer in our circle and another person from the DCI, which was very successful and — as I mentioned — published a few papers on the topic of blockchain privacy.

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MJ: How did the students like the class? Did you see a lot of enthusiasm for blockchain?

GZ: Oh yeah. We had about 40 people, which, for a first-time class that was arranged two weeks before the start of the semester, was a really good number. We got really good projects, what we did was we taught the students what blockchain is, what consensus is. Ethereum was only beginning, so we didn’t teach as much about Ethereum as we did with Bitcoin, but we wanted people to experiment a little bit with Serpent back then, that was before Solidity.

And then we had the finals where people presented their projects and that was really cool. All of the works were great. One of the projects actually became a paper of its own and the first project of the DCI, which, I believe, was about blockchain in the medical industry.

MJ: When you taught the class on blockchain, how did you introduce the concept of this technology?

GZ: I just explained Bitcoin. Let’s say there is a new company that says, “We are maintaining a new kind of money,” right? It’s totally not on a database. And you could transact. We could give $1 to every person in the world and you can start transacting with it.

But then, after that point, if you want to buy more, you’re going to start depositing money. And this is an untrusted company, not a bank, not affiliated with a country. And I ask people in the class, “Are you comfortable trusting and continuing to pour money into that kind of system?” And the answer is always “no” from everyone.

And then I start to explain how Bitcoin works in a very high-level way, and how even though you don’t trust one entity, if you have many of them and you don’t trust them individually, but somehow, collectively, you can trust them to actually transact and approve any transaction you send to people. And that kind of clicks and from that we go more technical.

MJ: Do you see MIT offering this class again in the future?

GZ: I know that after we taught it, there was a bit of a break. But from what I’ve heard recently, the class is now returning and there are actually even more people working on it and more researchers. Blockchain at MIT has really evolved in those spheres, which is amazing.

MJ: Can you tell me more about Enigma’s recent announcement of a partnership with Intel?

GZ: Basically, what we offer — that others do not — is to create scalable, privacy-preserving smart contracts. Right now, when you look at blockchains, the way they’ve been developed — Ethereum included — is that you take a computation and verification and you do them in the same place. In Ethereum, you have an application running as a smart contract on the blockchain: Basically, every node in the network has to run every computation and validate that computation, which is very, very costly.

We’re trying to split that, and we’re trying to make sure that all computations that are happening are working on data that the nodes themselves cannot see. There are several ways to do it. There are hardware-assisted ways and there are purely cryptographic ways. At Enigma we’re developing both because we want to give developers the choice.

When it comes to hardware system techniques, that’s known as trusted execution environments. Intel has been developing one of the leading examples of that, which is called the Intel SGX. And we used that to build our first situation of a test. We partnered with Intel together to develop that further, to see how far this technology can go, how helpful it can be for Enigma and for blockchains in general, also to continue researching and improving the systems and even make them more trustless and permissionless.

MJ: In the future, 10 years down the line, which blockchain protocols do you think will be left standing?

GZ: I think it’s safe to say that most protocols won’t exist. Most tokens won’t exist. I think there will be more than one to two winners. I think there’s a place for like 10, 20, maybe even 50, but what I’m really curious about is to see how protocols and projects will start merging with each other.

Because, obviously, it’s not possible to have 2,000 projects. If you look at 2014, there were all these outcomes of Bitcoin in all these forms, and most of them didn’t survive. But some did. So, I think some will survive and those are the ones that are doing really legit work and actually advancing the tech and the applications.

MJ: Great! Thank you so much.

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Tech Giant Intel Partners With DApp Platform Enigma on Privacy Research

Decentralized application (DApp) platform Enigma will partner with Intel on privacy research as it prepares to launch its blockchain testnet, the two companies confirmed June 20.

Enigma, which completed a $45 mln Initial Coin Offering (ICO) in September of last year, said the collaboration would focus on “research and development efforts to advance development of privacy preserving computation technologies.”

The platform aims to provide the first environment for scalable end-to-end DApps using bespoke privacy technology to protect data “while still allowing computation” on top of it.

“Enigma is excited to continue collaborating with Intel to advance our protocol and privacy technologies for public blockchains, as well as expanding and strengthening our working relationship,” the post adds, hinting further partnership details would follow.

Ahead of Intel plugging Enigma’s privacy developments at the Cyber Week 2018 event in Tel Aviv next this week, Rick Echevarria, vice president of the corporation’s software and services group and general manager, platforms security division, appeared likewise upbeat at the prospect of improving that area of blockchain.

“Security is pivotal to our company’s strategy and a fundamental underpinning for all workloads, especially those that are as data-centric as AI and blockchain,” he wrote in a separate post from Intel, continuing:

“We will continue to innovate and make our silicon an active participant in the threat defense lifecycle.”

The move marks a further step in Intel’s blockchain involvement, this already spanning multiple industries, including healthcare, and partnerships, such as with virtual currency hardware firm Ledger.

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Enigma (ENG) Rallies by 20% After Intel Partnership Announcement

Only yesterday, June 20th, the founder and CEO of Enigma (ENG), Guy Zyskind, made an announcement via medium that Enigma was partnering with Intel. The partnership will focus on research and development efforts to advance the development of privacy preserving computational technologies.

Enigma will utilize Intel’s SGX (Software Guard Extensions) in building ground breaking privacy technologies. This will assist in combating some of the largest obstacles hindering the advancement of blockchain technology such as privacy, security and scalability. With Enigma’s solutions, data is protected while still allowing for computation over the data as part of a sacalable, secure solution.

Rick Echevarria, Vice President, Software and Services Group and General Manager, Platforms Security Division at Intel Corporation, had this to say about the partnership:

Intel is committed to enabling business transformation by shortening the time-to-value from blockchain implementations and working with the industry to address privacy, security and scalability challenges. Enigma’s protocol approach is helping solve the challenges on public blockchain networks and improving data privacy and smart contract security.

When the announcement was made, ENG immediately spiked to levels of $1.84, from levels of $1.47 less that 2 hours prior. This is a percentage increment of 25.17%. The digital asset has since settled at current levels of $1.70: an increment of 20% in the last 24 hours.

Enigma’s market response to the partnership with Intel. Source, coinmarketcap.com

This announcement is particularly well timed with two Cryptocurrency exchanges having been hacked in a period of less than 2 weeks. Privacy and security is now a major concern in the cryptocurrency markets as hackers adapt to orchestrate digital heist worth millions.

Enigma is a blockchain based protocol that uses groundbreaking privacy technologies to keep smart contracts hidden from nodes in the Enigma network that execute code. This then protects sensitive data and creating truly decentralized solutions at scale. Enigma’s protocol can have powerful applications across industries such as personal data, identity, healthcare, credit, finance, and many others.

The project began at MIT with Guy Zyskind’s research into privacy, blockchain, and decentralization.

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Enigma Protocol to Integrate Smart Contracts Tech With Intel Systems

Intel is working with blockchain startup Enigma to help secure its privacy-enhancing smart contracts.

As previously reported by CoinDesk, secret contracts are a type of smart contract for public blockchains that use cryptographic tricks to keep transaction data hidden from view. Enigma – a startup that grew out of efforts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with the goal of creating a more private platform for decentralized applications – wants to boost their privacy by incorporating Intel’s Software Guard Extensions (SGX), a move slated for the second half of 2018.

An Enigma spokesperson told CoinDesk:

“Privacy is currently the biggest barrier to smart contract adoption. Blockchains are good at correctness, but bad at privacy by design. Smart contracts and decentralized applications will need to be able to use private and sensitive data to see global adoption.”

Enigma plans to work with Intel and other industry partners to develop applications that support the protocol and SGX, later this year launching a proof-of-concept that showcases the potential of combining the two technologies.

Both teams are also conducting R&D into trusted execution environments (TEEs), which are an integral part of Intel’s SGX technology that securitizes data and code. Specifically, TEEs refer to space on a device’s main processor that is separate from its operating system and is responsible for storing and protecting data in a secure environment. In this regard, Intel and Enigma’s goal is to create “production-level software that can be used at scale.”

The collaboration is a timely one, given that high-stakes attacks have already taken place. The most prominent of these is perhaps the DAO hack in 2016, where 3.6 million ether, valued at around $50 million at the time, was stolen from the decentralized and autonomous venture capital fund as a result of vulnerabilities in a smart contract.

In an April Medium post, Enigma CEO Guy Zyskind highlighted the need for secret contracts given the issues affecting other forms of privacy tech. These include problems with coin-mixing and zero-knowledge proofs, the latter of which he said are particularly vulnerable in multi-party cases where several “untrusted and pseudonymous” parties are executing computations.

Therefore, Zyskind said, secret contracts provide the “missing piece” by executing computations using encrypted data that stays hidden from network nodes.

Looking further ahead, Enigma will also be launching its testnet and mainnet – a fully functioning, live network– in Q1 and Q2 of 2018, respectively, according to its roadmap.

Padlock 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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New Solar-Powered Crypto Mining Outfit Blasts Off, Backed by Star Trek's Shatner

William Shatner, the former fictional Captain Kirk from Star Trek, is the spokesperson for a new solar-powered cryptocurrency mining facility, according to a press release published yesterday, June 13.

The recently acquired mining warehouse, located in Murphysboro, Illinois, covers 165,000 square feet and was purchased for a “nominal cost” by Solar Alliance Energy as part of a green energy jobs initiative for the town of Murphysboro. Solar Alliance has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a solar panel manufacturer for developing the equipment for solar-powered crypto mining operations.

Shatner, arguably now just as well known in popular culture for his role as the Priceline Pitchman as for as the captain of the USS Enterprise, referred to himself in the press release as “an advocate for solar energy,” stating:

“I am proud to be a part of the group that is powering the digital currency revolution. Blockchain technologies, and cryptocurrencies specifically, are at the cutting edge of a new distributed technology infrastructure […] The combination of solar and cryptocurrency mining facilities represents meaningful change.”

Shatner also tweeted about Solar Alliance yesterday, June 13, writing that he is partial to “green…women” — likely a reference to the green-skinned Orion cadet, Gaila, who dallied with Kirk on Star Trek — as well as “green […] money” and energy:

The facility plans to earn revenue through renting space to cryptocurrency mining tenants. Will Stevens, the mayor of Murphysboro, said in the press release that the new solar-powered crypto mining facility “is a wonderful opportunity to move Murphysboro forward toward a brighter future:”

“The combination of solar and cryptocurrency will provide opportunities for the local workforce and position our community for the future.”

Cryptocurrency mining is often condemned for using large amounts of energy and actively causing harm to the environment. The question of whether crypto mining is actually making a real impact on the environment has long been a point of contention. While some say that mining is harmful with its high use of energy, others believe that the environmental cost of mining is negligible.

Intel recently filed a patent for a Bitcoin (BTC) mining hardware accelerator that would reduce the amount of energy used in mining by reducing the space used and the power consumed by the hardware. In the beginning of June, one of Europe’s most energy-efficient data centers began testing mining of Bitcoin and Ethereum (ETH) in terms of energy consumption and infrastructure cooling.

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No Miners? Intel Seeks to Automate DLT Block Verification

Software giant Intel is looking to protect a novel way to verify transactions on a distributed ledger.

In a filing released last Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the company outlines a method by which it would partition and update distributed ledgers automatically, with a processor able to independently verify that new blocks are valid and able to be attached to the ledger.

This is distinct from the conventional mining method advanced by blockchains like bitcoin, that rely on a network of competing nodes to verify and record transactions in exchange for rewards.

Notably, the application explains that some of these distributed ledger systems (DLS) could also be blockchains, but makes a distinction between the two related technologies.

According to the application, the physical computers would need to be pre-programmed with certain parameters to define how a block could be validated.

However, discussing the scalability concerns facing blockchains today, the patent application also notes that distributed ledgers may not be the most efficient form of data storage.

It states:

“Distributed ledgers have inherent scalability issues. When all of the validators in a DLS must have a copy of all transactions, all of the transactions must be broadcast to all of the validators. These broadcasted transactions create a very large number of network messages.”

Since this would create a large number of network messages, a DLS can impose “significant storage requirements” and “may not scale well,” it adds.

Intel 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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Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Develops ‘First Of A Kind’ Blockchain Lending Platform

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) has developed a “first of a kind” blockchain-based securities lending platform, according to a press release May 16. The new platform was completed in partnership with Israeli fintech firm The Floor, global professional services company Accenture, and Intel.

The exchange will reportedly create one central platform called Blockchain Securities Lending (BSL), which aims to revolutionize the securities lending market in Israel “by enabling direct lending among all the major financial instruments.” The platform will be designed as a “one-stop-shop” for all operations with securities lending and provide access to larger securities volumes in shorter terms.

By employing blockchain, the TASE intends to profit from its advantages such as direct peer-to-peer transactions, smart contracts, and enhanced security.

The platform will be built on Hyperledger Sawtooth that utilizes Intel Software Guard Extensions (Intel® SGX) technology to encrypt transaction data. Accenture will be working on the development of smart contracts on the platform, which is one of Hyperledger Sawtooth’s major business attributes.

Rick Echevarria, Vice President of Software and Services Group at Intel, noted the significance of blockchain for the financial services market, saying that Intel “believes blockchain can transform business processes”, while Accenture is working on a solution that “accelerates blockchain adoption.”

The project will be deployed in a production environment after a successful implementation of initial Proof of Concept (PoC).

Major indices that trade on TASE are the T-35, the T-125, and the TA BlueTech Index. The exchange has a market capitalization of $212 bln.

Traditional financial institutions have begun to see the advantages blockchain can add to their business processes. Last month, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) became the first global bank to issue a loan using blockchain technology. The bank conducted the entire loan process, from the negotiation of terms to the signing, on a mutually distributed ledger, claiming that it cut the negotiation time for the €75 mln loan from “days to hours”.

Recently, Sberbank CIB, the corporate and investment banking business of Russia’s largest bank Sberbank, conducted the first blockchain-based commercial bond transaction in Russia. Sberbank CIB organized the issue corporate bonds using smart contracts, while the transaction was carried out on the Hyperledger Fabric 1.1-based blockchain platform.