The history of the formation of the Empire: How Bitmain won the “arms race” from Nvidia and AMD and challenged even Google

The history of the formation of the Empire: How Bitmain won the “arms race” from Nvidia and AMD and challenged even Google

Jihan Wu and Zhang Mikri little known to the General public and try to avoid contact with journalists. Meanwhile, these young Chinese experts believe not just the very rich miners, and “grey cardinals” of the industry, is able to concentrate the power within the mysterious Bitmain Technologies Limited is a registered Hong Kong Corporation, the main shareholder of which is the trust in the Cayman Islands.

Evaluation research firm Bernstein in 2017 Bitmain got a huge profit (from $3 billion to $4 billion) from sales of ASIC devices for mining, and from mining on their “asiko” bitcoins. The company strengthened so that it threatens to throw off the cryptocurrency market graphics card manufacturers Nvidia and AMD and to upstage Google in the development of artificial intelligence.

The lack of a large amount of information about Jihan Wu and Zhang the Micra has spawned many rumors. Even suggested that phenomenal business breakthrough Bitmain carry out Chinese technology tycoons who do not want to advertise their relationship with the criminal cryptocurrency market, so as not to get hit by the regulators. In support of Bitmain, in particular, I suspect the “Chinese Steve jobs” lei Jun, the founder of the company producing mobile devices Xiaomi. According to another version, the all-powerful Chinese Communist party is pouring money into Bitmain to set the path for the development of major cryptocurrencies and manipulate their courses.

As confirmation of these theories no, read the success story of Bitmain in the beautiful and inspiring of the wrapper in which it is presented Cihan Mikri Wu and Zhang.

The Union of a bitcoin Evangelist and a technology guru

Fateful meeting the future founder Bitmain happened in 2010. At the time of Mikri Zhang, a graduate of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the designer of chips that developed the console to output the television broadcasts on the computer screen and was looking for money for your startup DivaIP. One of his subordinates Mikri Zhang on the streets of Beijing agitated passers-by to buy consoles DivaIP and attracted the attention of 24-year-old Jihan Wu, passing by.

Jihan Wu at that time worked as a financial analyst in the private investment Fund and had a degree in Economics and psychologist from the Beijing University, the most prestigious Chinese University. He came to Mikri Zhang to advise him on how to attract investment in DivaIP.

Shortly before this meeting, Jihan Wu discovered Bitcoin, became very manifest its Creator Satoshi Nakamoto and was the first who translated the document into Chinese. Although to enter into financial transactions with Mikri Zhang he failed, communication with the developer of computer consoles brought more valuable the result, the idea of creating specialized chips for mining bitcoins.

Jihan Wu emptied your Bank account to all the money to buy bitcoins, which cost at that time about a dollar per coin, and created a news site with which you have been interacting with bitcoin community in China.

“I spent all that I managed to accumulate in life to buy bitcoins in 2011, says Jihan Wu. — Most people believed their excessive risk or fraud. However, two years later, there has been an explosive increase in value of Bitcoin from about $20 in early 2013 to $900 in late 2013. In the process of that growth it has attracted worldwide attention. And I clearly realized that they can earn, not just trading bitcoins and mining them. At that time the miners had 25 bitcoins every 10 minutes.”

Realizing that made in 2011, the investment in bitcoins has turned into capital to start mining industries, Jihan Wu began to search for specialists. The first thing he remembered about the Mikri Zhang and sent him an email in which he described what he knew about Bitcoin.

“After receiving the letter, I spent two hours to read all about Bitcoin on Wikipedia — says Mikri Zhang. — I realized that this is a promising thing, and decided to enter in this business without delay.”

Expanding the market horizontally

The first task assigned to Mikri Zhang was the development of specialized chips to perform the hash algorithm SHA-256 cryptographic calculations used in Bitcoin structure.

“At first, it was very difficult for Mikri — says Jihan Wu. — He complained that it is impossible to create ASIC for Bitcoin. But in the end Zhang coped with this task and completed it with record speed: from idea to final product it took only six months. The time was a critical factor, because the price of Bitcoin eerily hesitated, and Bitmain could not miss the once in a lifetime chance to make a profit on the uptrend. In addition, the market of “Asimov” already mastered several startups, which brought together start-up capital through crowdfunding”.

The first was developed by Zhang for the installation of Bitcoin mining — Antminer S1 start in November 2013, when Bitcoin was near its peak of $1200. Bitmain immediately started active sale of their devices that were sold out by professional miners like hotcakes. This is not surprising: modules Antminer has cheaper personal computers, consume less energy and mining bitcoins about 50 times more efficient.

The appearance of the device Antminer caused the exit of Bitcoin enthusiasts, cryptocurrency miniusa on a PC. At the same time the smell of money attracted large sharks — niche production “Asimov” ready to take giants Samsung, TSMC, GlobalFoundries and even Intel.

However, almost all potential competitors Bitmain were not flexible and sensitive to falling prices. When in 2014, Bitcoin prices dropped, and the demand for “ashiki” has decreased, many companies have concluded that it is better to have a “bird in the hand” and upload your production that brings even a low but steady income.

Bitmain preferred to be sensitive to profit — every six months, the company presented improved models Antminer announcing competing products obsolete. In the end, the Bitmain chips attached to the system, Bitcoin, has taken over 70% of its processing power.

The development in the vertical direction

The specificity of the products Bitmain is such that it can not wait for buyers at the warehouses, and to generate money. In may 2014, Bitmain organized in China mining pool AntPool, which in a matter of months became the largest in the world. To date, the computational power of AntPool reached 3,600 peaches/h (1 peaches = 1 million billion gahahaha), and its share in 2017 accounted for 18% of the blocks generated in the system of Bitcoin.

Bitmain recognizes that actively building a mining farm in a few countries, including Switzerland and Canada, but their true hash rate she’s hiding. In the opinion of analysts, the company could make its first pool AntPool a big “elephant”, against which all other unions of miners of bitcoins would seem to be small fry. So as not to scare this market, Bitmain in September 2016 organized a pool under a different name generating now about 25% of the blocks. Rumor has it that she has shares in several large pools, including ViaBTC, GBMiners, CANOE.

An important stage of vertical development Bitmain was the market launch of cloud mining. In September 2014, Bitmain bought cloud service and turned it into the largest exchange on which Internet users can in real time buy-sell compute capacity and receive a portion of the generated capacity of these bitcoins. Through this cloud Bitmain leases “ashiki” their farms and attracted the investment from a “virtual” miners, not risking to buy real equipment.

The invasion of ecosystems altcoins

Almost immediately after the conquest of the hash algorithm SHA-256, the underlying “digital gold”, Bitmain announced readiness to produce equipment for the production of the “digital silver” Litecoin. At the end of 2004, the company said it created the “asik” Antminer L1 for performance similar to SHA-256 algorithm, Scrypt.

However, the rate of Litecoin has long remained near the low of $3, and Bitmain for more than two years was postponed the start of sales of their devices. When in early 2017 Litecoin began his rise to around $200, Bitmain finally released improved model Antminer L3. The demand was so high that buy these “ashiki” are only those who designed the pre-orders.

In the second half of 2017 there has been a rapid increase in the price of a whole new bundles of cryptocurrencies, led by the ether, and Bitmain started to recruit talents for the development of new types of “Asimov”. Engineers leading several technology companies of Taiwan “shadow Corporation” offered a generous remuneration for the transition to its state.

In January 2018 under the negative buzz from critics Bitmain has announced that it is preparing to release “ashiki” A3 2b Blake Antminer for mining SiaCoin — tokens promising platforms for data storage Sia. The indignation of the developers SiaCoin turned into a long post filled with anger against the “aggressor” dire predictions and desperate calls for miners to buy equipment from Bitmain.

Striking fear into miners, Bitmain is sending rays of hope to gamers who suffer, from lack of cards. In February there were rumors that the Corporation is developing a “killer” of mining on gaming graphics cards — Antminer F3 for the extraction of the ether, using the encryption algorithm Ethash.

The Project Sophon

In September 2017 Bitmain announced it has raised from several venture capital firms $50 million to develop chips for artificial intelligence (AI). The desire to engage in the production of chips to run AI algorithms founders Bitmain explained that at Mikri Zhang had an Epiphany after reading a sci-Fi novel “three-body Problem” by Chinese writer Liu Casina.

Then skeptics have expressed doubt that the mining giant is seriously going to wrap up in such a serious and far from cryptocurrency sphere where it will have to compete with Google. Analysts had expected the company exploits the theme of artificial intelligence to increase your credibility in the eyes of customers.

However, in November Bitmain has launched a website platform Sophon for their developments in the field of AI and has presented at once three of the actual product for deep learning — tensor processor BM1680 accelerating map SC1 and SS1 server for analyzing video and images. Soon to this set were added like the rabbit robot Luo Xiaodou, able to make children riddles, to teach, to entertain, to play music and report the news.

The implementation of ideas in the field of artificial intelligence deals with the Israeli team in the engineering and technological center of Israel Bitmaintech. The head of the center Gadi Glikberg argues that the development of a Sophon will improve surveillance systems, Autonomous vehicles, Internet of things and more.

On the website Sophon large font marked the high company’s goal: “to add up all the puzzles in the Universe. To enrich human understanding and knowledge about everything,” and defined an ambitious mission – “to transfer humanity from the information age into the intelligent age.” For this transition, according to Bitmain, you will need the “engine” – a huge computing power, and “fuel” – huge amounts of data. To the intellectual era has come faster processing of data should be accelerated and to accelerate Bitmain knows no equal.

“We started with the development of the “Asimov” for cryptocurrencies, with production of mining equipment and the organization of the mining pools. Bitmain has achieved in these areas of extraordinary success without any external support. And now it’s time for us to enter the market of artificial intelligence”

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