South Korean tech giant Samsung has reportedly jumped on the cryptocurrency train, and is now mass producing ASIC chipsets specialized for mining certain types of ASIC-based coins. News about this development from The Bell Korea does not point out whether Samsung's ASIC chipset is based on the SHA256 or scrypt mining standard, but with Bitcoin being the most popular and valuable coin out there, SHA256 is the more likely choice. Samsung has partnered up with an unnamed Chinese company that specializes in mining hardware, and is mass producing chips that are purpose-built for mining. Between their very specific architecture and Samsung's pedigree and manufacturing prowess, these ASIC chips will most likely end up falling somewhere in the high end of their field.
ASIC rigs are able to mine Bitcoin and other SHA256-based ASIC coins far more efficiently than standard graphics cards meant to be used for PC gaming. The specs for Samsung's ASIC chip are unknown for the time being, but it's worth mentioning that Samsung already mass produces NAND flash, DRAM memory, and mobile processors, among other related hardware. This makes the company a near-perfect candidate to manufacture ASIC chipsets, because it can marry the ASIC chipset with large amounts of DRAM and flash memory right there at the factory, and perhaps even a low-power ARM coprocessor from its Exynos lineup to help control mining and interface with outside gear without having to sacrifice ASIC mining performance. Naturally, full integration would make Samsung's ASIC more power-efficient as well. Finally, having Samsung support behind the ASIC could mean that this new chip will take the crown and become the new mainstream ASIC option, perhaps even bringing in businesses and investors who may not have given cryptocurrency a second thought before.
Outside of the cryptocurrency market itself, this development may have implications for PC gamers. Right now, GPU prices are at all-time highs because of miners buying up large quantities of GPUs to create powerful mining rigs. With a more efficient and dedicated option being mass produced for mass availability and backed by a reputable company, these practices may well cease. If that happens, it will likely still be a while before the market stabilizes, since miners will be quick to offload their used GPUs in varying states of repair at rock bottom prices. This comes in addition to efforts from inside the GPU market to stabilize pricing, such as NVIDIA asking retailers to sell to gamers instead of miners, and some retailers selling GPUs at MSRP as part of a package deal to those who can prove that they will be used for gaming and not used for mining or resold.