Once considered a fringe activity, crypto mining has scaled so dramatically during the past year that it has become a key revenue driver at TSMC, the world’s largest chip foundry. During 2017, TSMC’s revenues increased 9%, powered by strong demand for bitcoin mining chips in the second half of the year. In 2018, according to management, both crypto and artificial intelligence will contribute to an acceleration in revenue growth to 10-15%. Today, crypto mining accounts for 3-5% of TSMC’s revenues, primarily because of long-time customer Nvidia.
During TSMC’s fourth quarter earnings call, crypto was the most widely discussed topic by far. Management and analysts mentioned crypto more than 40 times, twice the number of mentions for either AI or mobile, as shown above. Having “carefully modeled demand” in the face of recent price volatility, management is confident that orders will be stable in early 2018.
Remarkably, nascent technologies like crypto and machine learning are moving the needle at industry giants like TSMC and Nvidia. With the addition of new blockchains and neural networks almost weekly, this journey still is in early days.
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