Nermin Hajdarbegovic | Published on September 14, 2014 at 12:15 BST
The bitcoin mining industry has witnessed massive change over the past two years. The technological arms race launched by ASIC makers quickly put an end to GPU and FPGA (field-programmable gate array) mining, but much like the Cold War arms race, additional investments may prove unsustainable in the long run due to ROI constraints.
Currently, miners are hitting the wall. Technology is the first problem. Most miners are already using the latest nodes, namely 28nm and 20nm processors offered by TSMC and GlobalFoundries, while the first 14nm/16nm FinFET ASICs are expected next year. Yet progress is slowing down due to a number technical limitations plaguing all chipmakers.
The second problem involves economics. It is more down to earth, but it is closely related to chip design and manufacturing. Bigger chips manufactured on relatively immature processes tend to be costlier to produce and develop. They usually face yield and leakage issues as well.