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Intel Joins the Blockchain Technology Race, Forms Special Research Group

Op-ed - Intel Joins the Blockchain Technology Race

Last week Bitcoin Magazinereported that IBM is considering adopting the blockchain technology behind Bitcoin to create a digital cash and payment system for government and central banks. Now another technology giant is joining the digital fintech technology race: Intel is planning to investigate the potential of blockchain technology.

Intel has posted a job announcement for a new researcher to join its special innovation projects group to “investigate hardware and software capabilities that advance the performance, robustness, and scalability of open, decentralized ledgers.”

Working with a team of distributed systems, operating systems, and security technologists, the selected applicant will focus on the development of cutting-edge, cryptographic algorithms for improving the robustness and assurance of transaction verification within an open, decentralized ledger, according to Intel.

Applicants must be qualified in the areas of crypto algorithms, access control models and security/privacy protocols, proficient in the development of system and application software and familiar with relevant security and cryptographic standards.

“These two tech giants [IBM and Intel], whose technology powers many of today’s most loved products want to get in on the technology behind bitcoin,” notesUpstart Business Journal.

“The jury may remain out on the value of bitcoin as a currency, but the underlying blockchain technology has attracted interest from central banks, the financial services establishment and tech titans,” reportsFinextra, commenting on possible blockchain fintech developments at IBM and Intel. “Chip giant Intel is also dipping its toes.”

“Digital currencies like Bitcoin have captured the imagination of the press,” notes the Intel post. “Related startups are generating a great deal of VC [venture capitalist] interest and investment because of the potential significance of any disruption of the financial payment industry. Its fundamental technical innovation is the decentralized transaction ledger called the ‘block-chain.’ It allows bitcoin to prevent double-spending of currency by recording all transactions in an open ledger without the need for a central authority. Such a distributed, public, secure, peer-to-peer transaction record enables not just the exchange of bitcoins but many secondary uses that the research and startup community are exploring such as digital marketplaces.”

Reading between the lines of the Intel job announcement and speculating on the possible future involvement of Intel in blockchain-based fintech products, it appears that the chipmaker intends to focus on the security-related aspects of blockchain algorithms, possibly in view of the implementation of appropriate security frameworks in future Intel chips. The possibility of secure “Intel Inside” hardware wallets comes to mind, as well as noncurrency applications such as authentication and voting systems.

The cryptographic researcher will be based at Hillsboro, Oregon. The site hosts a Research and Pathfinding Laboratory where employees develop silicon technologies that are two to three generations ahead of Intel’s current manufacturing processes, and develop new ways to make digital technologies faster and easier to use.

The site also is home to Logic Technology Development, Components Research, and Design and Technology Solutions groups, responsible for developing advanced integrated circuit technologies and designing key components of microprocessor products.