ASCI or Application Specific Integrated Circuit Machines have appeared in the Bitcoin mining market. The first machine arrived at a miner’s home at the end of January, and since then there have been reports of shipped ASCI machines making their way into bitcoin mining rigs.
Since ASCI machines are designed specifically for Bitcoin mining, they are very efficient machines at what they are designed for. High-end ASCI machines have hash rates of over 1 million per second. A typical CPU running Bitcoin mining software has a hash rate of 1.5 per second.
Needless to say, the supply of ASCI machines has been a game changer in the Bitcoin world. CPUs aren’t even supported by bitcoin mining software anymore, because a CPU running 24 hours a day likely won’t see bitcoins for years, even if it mined the pool.
This trend favors those interested in mining who also have thousands of dollars lying around to spend on expensive equipment, as well as early adopters of Bitcoin who likely made a significant profit from their first mining efforts. These early profits could be put towards the latest and greatest equipment and installation to continue generating bitcoins well into the future.
Those miners with relatively powerful GPUs were most affected by the development of ASCI. The difficulty of successfully mining a block of Bitcoin has increased to such a level that the cost of electricity can outweigh the payout a GPU miner will receive in Bitcoin year after year.
All these speculations are largely related to the stability of the Bitcoin price in the future. If Bitcoin stays around the current $30 level, innovation will continue to develop. ASCI has partially fueled Bitcoin’s rise over the past 2 months. The exchange rate of bitcoins rose from $10 to $30. It’s hard to find an investment with this kind of profit anywhere on the planet, so it’s only natural that Bitcoin has been gaining attention in recent days. But will this attention last? And if so, will it bring more scrutiny and volatility than the fledgling digital currency’s stability? In the long term, relative stability is the only trait that Bitcoin needs to establish in order to achieve its original goal of becoming a viable and competitive currency on a global scale.
So, has Bitcoin outgrown its current label as a speculative tool? The answer lies in a tangled web of variables that encompass the vast spectrum of humanity: politics, psychology, finance, fear, freedom, privacy, security…etc. Regardless of the outcome, it’s sure to be an entertaining show.