Japan’s Internet Giant GMO Launching Bitcoin Mining with 7nm Chips

Japan’s leading internet conglomerate and bitcoin exchange operator GMO has announced that it is expanding into the businesses of bitcoin mining and chip manufacturing. The company revealed plans to produce and sell 7nm semiconductor chips and run a mining facility in Northern Europe.

GMO’s Venture into Mining Business

GMO Internet Inc, announced on Thursday the launch of a bitcoin mining business, “utilizing the next-generation 7nm semiconductor chip.” The company wrote:

We will operate a next-generation mining center utilizing renewable energy and cutting-edge semiconductor chips in Northern Europe. We will use cutting-edge 7nm process technology for chips to be used in the mining process, and jointly work on its research and development and manufacturing with our alliance partner having semiconductor design technology.

Citing plentiful renewable energy in Northern Europe, the company says “we can operate facilities that reduce costs by procuring clean and cheap electricity.” The company plans to start mining with 50,000 chips to deliver a total hashpower of 500 petahashs per second (PH/s). This amount of hashpower would rank among the top-ten bitcoin mining pools today.

Headquartered in Tokyo, GMO offers a comprehensive range of internet services worldwide. Its internet infrastructure business has 8.47 million customers and ranks number one in Japan. The company is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

GMO Group consists of 129 entities as of the end of July this year. One of its subsidiaries is GMO Coin Inc, who offers digital currency trading and digital currency fx trading. It was launched on May 31, and then changed its name on August 9 from Z.com Coin Co., Ltd. The company wrote:

By entering this project, GMO Internet will support the sound operation of bitcoin which is ‘the worldwide common currency’.

Mining Competition

GMO’s upcoming bitcoin mining facility will have racks, air conditioning, firefighting and security, GMO outlined, adding that power used will be renewable energy, namely geothermal and hydropower. Each mining hardware unit will have a performance of 10 TH/s with power consumption drawing only 500 W max, the company detailed.

The new mining venture will be competing with a few existing mining equipment producers including Bitmain, whose Antminer S9 is the current favorite ASIC bitcoin mining rig worldwide. The China-based company uses a 16nm process for their chips, which is still the smallest and most efficient design in the ASIC mining industry to date. Each of the latest mining rigs Bitmain is building has a hashpower of 14 TH/s, but a power usage of 1,372 W. Its chips deliver 0.098 J/GHs, which “is the world’s most efficient bitcoin mining chip in the consumer market,” according to the company’s website.

Bitfury is the second-largest mining equipment producer globally. The company also produces 16nm ASIC chips. The company does not sell mining rigs to consumers, opting to sell whole data centers to enterprise customers and governments instead.

Canaan, formerly Avalon Mining, is based in China and also produces 16nm chips and mining rigs. The company ships their machines directly to consumers, but produces far fewer units than Bitmain does.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Internet Ombudsman Dmitry Marinichev announced last month that his country will enter the Bitcoin mining chip production race as well, re-tasking a chip fabrication facility that originally produced microchips for Soviet satellites. “Russian Miner Coin” will be the name of the token issued to investors in what may be the first state-run ICO, which is looking to raise $100 million worth of funding for the purpose of becoming a leading cryptocurrency mining hardware manufacturer, according to Marinichev.

Operations and Costs

In addition to operating the mining center, GMO’s mining business will offer cloud mining as well as the sale of its “next generation mining boards.” Mined cryptocurrencies including bitcoins will be supplied to the company’s bitcoin exchange, adding liquidity. The mining business is expected to be operational in the first half of 2018.

As for the cost of establishing the mining center and hardware manufacturing including mining chips, the company wrote:

We will not disclose the specific amount due to the non-disclosure agreement with our alliance partner, but it will be more than 10% of the consolidated noncurrent assets as of December 31, 2016 (¥3,489 million).

The company added, “although the impact of this launch on the consolidated business performance for the year ending December 31, 2017 is insignificant, we believe this new business has high potential for increasing corporate value in the future.”