Is Bitmain Planning A 50% Hash Power Increase?

According to a new report, Chinese cryptocurrency mining giant Bitmain is preparing to add some 600,000 new ASIC chips to its network. The report, published on Chinese social media network WeChat, cites an anonymous informant at a “Taiwanese chip maker” (almost certainly TSMC) as the source of the news. The report claims that the order will consist of current generation 7nm chips, each capable of 50 TH/s speeds, representing a 50% increase to Bitmain’s overall hash power.

There are clearly some problems in the reporting and/or translations of this news, as the numbers simply don’t make sense. The most obvious what exactly is meant by “chips” in this context. Bitmain’s current flagship miner, the Antminer S17 Pro, requires 144 “chips” (ASICs) per unit to achieve 50 TH/s.

It’s likely that Bitmain’s massive order is actually for around 12,500 new “hashboards” of 48 chips each, three of which are currently required to achieve the 50 TH/s rate in the S17 series. If this is the case, then the rumors might actually be indicating that Bitmain plans to bring around 4,150 new S17-like miners online. This would add around 10 EH/s to the bitcoin network, and account for the reported 50% increase in Bitmain’s total hash power.

Bitmain’s move comes at an interesting time in the cryptocurrency mining industry. Bitcoin’s hashrate has been climbing at an unprecedented rate over the summer, reaching an all-time-high of 80 EH/s in early August. New players in the mining hardware market, most notably Samsung and Cannan Creative, have also helped to crack Bitmain’s near-monopoly on the industry. At the same time, Bitmain has recently recorded serious losses — $310 million in Q1 2019, and around $500 million in Q3 2018 — all while preparing for an IPO in the U.S.

If true, Bitmain’s 600K chip order could represent a major initiative from a company looking to establish itself as the world’s biggest cryptocurrency mining firm. Already valued at $12-15 billion earlier this year, Bitmain’s new valuation would be anyone’s guess once their improved mining network is fully online. According to most estimates, AntPool and — both owned by Bitmain — currently control around 30% of the overall bitcoin network hashrate. Adding another 10 EH/s to the network would substantially increase Bitmain’s share to around 41%.