Transphorm Tailors Power Devices to Crypto Mining ApplicationsMarch 22, 2021 by Alessandro Mascellino
Gallium nitride (GaN) power conversion products manufacturer Transphorm has recently announced that its device portfolio is compatible with high-performing power supply units (PSUs) used in the mining of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
Transphorm’s GaN field-effect transistors (FETs) are designed to be utilized in power applications deployed in harsh environments. Now, the company has confirmed its GaN FETs are known to be used for crypto mining, which is a notoriously power-consuming process.
An unnamed facility with crypto currency mining rigs. Image used courtesy of Transphorm.
What is Crypto Mining?
Generally speaking, mining is the process of generating the new structures necessary for the cryptocurrency to function. In most cases, these structures are blocks in a blockchain.
In order to generate a new block, a miner needs to solve a specific mathematical problem to find a hash that matches certain criteria.
Once the solution is found, the miner receives a “block reward” in the form of coins, and often an additional transaction commission.
Miners compete in terms of processing power to discover the hash, and whoever gets to it first obtains the related reward.
A Power Consuming Process
Understandably, with crypto mining becoming more and more widespread, the necessary computational power to receive a block reward is all but indifferent.
In fact, according to recent figures from Cambridge University (published by the BBC,) the mining of Bitcoin alone consumes approximately 121.36 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity per year.
For context, this amount of electricity is superior to that consumed by the entire country of Argentina.
In terms of minimum hardware requirements, crypto mining is not necessarily too demanding. In fact, it is possible to assemble a basic cryptocurrency miner with a dual-core processor, 4GB RAM, and an SSD of at least 32GB.
Since these machines need to be able to operate around the clock, however, they require power supplies satisfying certain requirements.
According to Cybernetics, these include the ability to operate 24/7 under full load at temperatures ranging between 30°C to 35°C, and a 230VAC input capability to achieve 1 to 2% higher efficiency.
Transphorm’s GaN Platform
The company’s GaN technology is reportedly ideal for crypto mining as it is vertically integrated.
This allows for more granular control of the innovation and advancement of the FET design, a more accurate choice of the epitaxial starting material, and an overall improved manufacturing process.
According to Transphorm, the firm has conducted over 12 billion hours of field reliability data on FETs, which have yielded a FIT rate of < 1.
To facilitate their deployment, the components are also driven just like common silicon super junction MOSFETs with off-the-shelf gate drivers.
They also offer a high threshold drive voltage at 4 V for best-in-class noise immunity.
Transphorm’s crypto mining PSUs range from 1600 W to 3600 W.
Other Semiconductor Companies and Crypto Mining
Transphorm is only the latest semiconductor manufacturer releasing power products intended for crypto mining purposes.
Application Specific Integrated Circuit devices (ASICs) for crypto mining, for example, firstly surfaced between 2017 and 2018.
These chips are designed specifically for bitcoin mining and are already currently being produced by various manufacturers, including Samsung and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC).
SMIC in particular revealed last year it was looking to raise $2.8 billion in capital to start a production line offering 14nm chips used in crypto miners.
The largest semiconductor fabrication firm in China, SMIC said at the time it was also looking at partnering with venture capital firm Canaan to manufacture a crypto miner.