Block (previously known as Square) is constructing its own cryptocurrency mining infrastructure.

Block Inc logo is seen displayed in this illustration taken, April 10, 2023. 

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

Block (previously known as Square) is constructing its own cryptocurrency mining infrastructure

Jack Dorsey says that his payments company, Block (formerly Square), is expanding its bitcoin mining ambitions from designing chips to developing a full bitcoin mining system.

In a post on Tuesday, the global tech firm announced that it had finished the development of its own standalone three-nanometer bitcoin mining chip and was now in the process of working through the design with a “leading global semiconductor foundry.”

Block also unveiled plans to broaden out the scope of its mining project to include system design. Democratizing access to bitcoin mining — the process of creating new bitcoins by solving increasingly complex computational problems — is a big part of the mission statement of this project. “We’ve spent a significant amount of time talking to a wide variety of bitcoin miners to identify the challenges faced by mining operators,” Block writes. “Building on these insights and pursuant to our goal of supporting mining decentralization, we plan to offer both a standalone mining chip as well as a full mining system of our design.”

Indeed, members of the bitcoin community have long been concerned that hardware vulnerabilities might compromise network stability. The ASIC chip used in mining rigs is manufactured in China, a country that has proven hostile to the crypto sector in recent years. Block said in its memo on Tuesday that the goal of this project is to both decentralize the supply of bitcoin mining hardware and the distribution of hashrate — a proxy for industry competition and mining difficulty.

Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, also expressed the need for more focus on vertical integration and silicon design in the bitcoin mining industry. Block’s general manager for hardware, Thomas Templeton, previously disclosed plans to improve reliability and the user experience of mining, addressing common issues around heat dissipation and noise production.

The announcement comes just after the most recent bitcoin halving, which took effect late on Friday. The event happens roughly every four years and cuts the issuance of new Bitcoin in half. Toward that end, Block’s venture arm backed Gridless, a company that operates Bitcoin mines from renewable power sources in Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia.

Jack Dorsey posted in 2021 that the company was considering a “bitcoin mining system based on custom silicon.” When Block first entered the business of building mining hardware, Dorsey stated, “Mining isn’t accessible to everyone. Bitcoin mining should be as easy as plugging a rig into a power source. There isn’t enough incentive today for individuals to overcome the complexity of running a miner for themselves.”

The idea of making the mining process more accessible has to do with more than just generating new Bitcoin. Instead, Dorsey sees it as a long-term need for a future that is fully decentralized and permissionless. “Mining needs to be more distributed,” Dorsey posted on X recently. “The more decentralized this is, the more resilient the bitcoin network becomes.”

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