Earlier this week, Bitfury Group CEO Valery Vavilov revealed his company’s plans to launch a new division focusing on Artificial Intelligence (AI) hardware. Known primarily as a maker of enterprise-level blockchain hardware, the expansion to AI hardware is not entirely surprising. Both cryptocurrency mining and AI applications rely heavily on application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), and Bitfury is already one of the world’s leading ASIC developers.
“Just as blockchain technology enables us all to fix our most broken and distrusted systems, artificial intelligence will bring new and extraordinary benefits to nearly every facet of our lives,” Vavilov wrote in a statement about the expansion. “To help this incredible technology achieve maximum impact, Bitfury is expanding our mission to offer hardware and software solutions designed especially for AI applications.”
Bitfury has also invested heavily in building data centers over the last few years, a move that has allowed them to offer on-demand services to enterprise-level clients. Given the technical similarities between cryptocurrency mining and AI applications, Bitfury’s expansion makes perfect sense. The company has an aggressive timeline for their new offering, and plans to have AI services available to customers by the end of 2020.
“Data is becoming the next oil,” Vavilov said in an interview with Reuters. “We have collected so much data, but only 2% of all this data has been analyzed; 98% is sitting idle and waiting to be analyzed. We also need to trust that data, so that’s where blockchain comes in.”
Bitfury is one of a handful of major players in the cryptocurrency mining industry, rivaled only by Chinese hardware maker Bitmain. In late 2018, Bloomberg reported that Bitfury was planning an IPO at a rumored valuation of $3 billion to $5 billion. By adding AI services to its offering, that number may increase substantially, although it faces stiff competition in that space. IBM, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Nvidia, and many other major tech companies are already providing on-demand AI services.