MicroBT, Shenzhen-based mining chip manufacturer and a new and well-capitalized competitor to mining juggernaut Bitmain.
Yang Zuoxing, the former director of chip design at Bitmain, is toiling hard to fight against his old employer and build his 2-year-old startup into the dominant provider for crypto mining chips. After earning a PhD in engineering physics from the prestigious Tsinghua University, Yang’s career has focused on chip design.
In the spring of 2015, Yang joined Bitmain’s team to design the AntMiner S7 and S9, the two most popular bitcoin mining chips manufactured and supplied by the mining giant. But he left the company in June 2016 after Jihan Wu and Micree Zhan, co-founders of Bitmain, disapproved his request for a stake in the business. One month later, he established his own crypto chip company, Micro BT.
Since his departure, the company finds it hard to maintain its dominant position and is losing its technological edge. Bitmain failed to make a breakthrough in chip design over the past two years, although they spent billions of dollars on it.
“After Yang Zuo Xing left, Bitmain was unable to produce any new chips successfully. Bitmain’s 16nm BM1X89, 12nm BM1X90, 10nm BM1X93, all failed. Bitmain is working 7nm chips now but gains are minimal.” Blockstream CSO Samson Mow said in a tweet on August 26.
Besides, Bitmain failed to sue Yang over patent rights. The Urumqi Intermediate Court in China’s Xinjiang autonomous region ultimately revoked Bitmain’s patent on grounds that the circuit designs in question were widely used in August.
In contrast, Yang’s own startup is on the fast track to success. MicroBT launched its flagship Whatsminer M10 using 16nm ASIC chip technology last month.As Yang put it, this product is 30% more efficient than Bitmain’s new AntMiner S9 Hydro. And many industry insiders believe Whatsminer chips will be the real ‘game changer’.