Efforts to improve Bitcoin mining are now under way, working under the basic assumption that the cheaper you can mine Bitcoins, the more money you can make. Andreessen said that at his venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, he is seeing business pitches for Bitcoin-optimized data centers.
The Bitcoin phenomenon is resulting in chip design innovation as well.
“There is a big opportunity to apply custom silicon to mining,” Andreessen said. “We’re seeing a new wave of chip design around it, which is not something I would have predicted a year ago.”
While mining operations can potentially be done on general-purpose chips, Andreessen stressed that Bitcoin mining is much more efficient on custom, specialized silicon.
“Mining is a very specific thing that you can highly parallelize,” he said. “So I think that custom mining chips will dominate for quite a while.”