Block, the payment company formerly known as Square, is working on building an “open Bitcoin mining system,” its CEO Jack Dorsey has announced. In a thread, Block’s general manager for hardware Thomas Templeton outlined the company’s goals for the system, which is for it to be easily available, reliable, performant, and relatively power efficient compared to its hashrate.
The overall aim is to make mining more decentralized, in turn making the overall Bitcoin network more resilient. As the cryptocurrency’s value has increased, and it’s become more challenging to mine without economies of scale, there have been fears that the network has become centralized on too small a group of miners. Making mining more decentralized is “a long-term need for a future that is fully decentralized and permissionless,” Templeton says. But the plans could be controversial given how energy intensive mining Bitcoin tends to be.
We want to make mining more distributed and efficient in every way, from buying, to set up, to maintenance, to mining. We’re interested because mining goes far beyond creating new bitcoin. We see it as a long-term need for a future that is fully decentralized and permissionless.
— Thomas Templeton (@TempletonThomas) January 13, 2022
According to Templeton, Block is open to building its own ASIC (a custom chip optimized for a single purpose — in this case mining Bitcoin), but that the team will also include software designers. The aim is to build a high performance integrated system that’s also open-source. Dorsey has previously said he wants Bitcoin mining to be “as easy as plugging a rig into a power source,” and that he sees value in a mining system that’s vertically integrated across hardware and software.
As well as its mining system, in July last year Block (then Square) announced it was building a Bitcoin hardware wallet with the aim of making “Bitcoin custody more mainstream.” Square also previously allowed its customers to buy and sell Bitcoin using its Cash App. Dorsey has long been an avid supporter of Bitcoin, and his Twitter bio continues to simply be “#Bitcoin.” He earlier talked about his desire for Block to build a Bitcoin mining system in October.