Intel announces Agilex M-Series FPGA SoCs designed for crypto mining workloads
Despite the push for carbon-neutral and more eco-friendly blockchain technologies, the proof-of-work consensus is still used by the most dominant crypto assets including Bitcoin and Ethereum. Bitcoin is thankfully only minable through ASICs, yet Ethereum can still be mined through gaming GPUs, although Ethereum 2.0 switching to proof-of-stake is just around the corner. Until then, however, miners will continue to put pressure on the GPU market. While Intel is preparing to make a comeback to the discrete graphics market and eventually ease the pressure put on Nvidia’s and AMD’s GPUs, Team Blue is also trying to put to good use all the designs acquired from Altera. The ASIC designs are already utilized in the Bonanza Mine Bitcoin miners presented last month, and now Intel is announcing the Agilex M-Series based on Altera’s FPGA designs that could prove quite a decent solution for Ethereum mining.
FPGAs (Field-Programmable Gate Array) are usually utilized in compute and AI workloads, but Intel is deliberately marketing them as crypto mining machines. With this move, Intel hopes to bolster market interest for its Altera-based products, which have been eclipsed by AMD’s Xilinx products as of late. The new Agilex M-Series FPGAs come with some enticing advantages, including the Intel 7 fabrication process combined with support for up to 32 GB HBM2e DRAM, which can lead to 60% improved performance over the previous Stratix FPGA models.
The increased memory performance is ensured by a dual HBM2e stack that supports up to 32 GB capacities for a total bandwidth of 820 GBps. These speeds could prove particularly beneficial for mining cryptocurrencies like Ethereum that rely on the Dagger Hashimoto and Directed Acyclic Graph algorithms. Moreover, the new FPGA models are marketed as the only available solutions with support for HBM2e, DDR5 and Intel Optane. Intel additionally claims that the Agilex M-series offers twice the fabric performance (not overall performance) compared to Xilinx’s solutions.
By the end of 1H2022, Team Blue should have the ARC Alchemist discrete graphics solutions ready to join the ASIC and FPGA models, outlining a solid crypto mining solution portfolio.