Samsung expects demand for memory chips to remain strong in 2018, as it reported record annual profit driven by a so-called memory chip "super-cycle" and announced a 50:1 stock split.
This could make Samsung a very serious competitor to Chinese companies such as Bitmain, Canaan and the USA -based Bitfury. The company is getting entry by manufacturing ASIC chips designed specifically for mining precious bitcoins. These processors are specifically designed for a single computational task, as opposed to the multi-purpose processors we now use in our phones and computers. Its foray into mining-specific hardware, which are much more efficient that GPUs, suggests that it's ready to play a bigger role in the booming cryptocurrency industry.
Kwon Yong Choi, the vice president of Samsung's display unit, brushed off reports that it would be affected by Apple reducing its orders for the pointless iPhone X saying the screen business was not dependent on any one client. In the case of bitcoin, the currency is created by solving mathematical problems, with these calculations also maintaining the integrity of bitcoin transactions.
However, Samsung declined to provide more details. Currently, China's Bitmain and Canaan Creative dominate this space, with both companies partnering with Taiwanese chip maker TSMC.
Samsung mentioned in its latest financial report this week that rising sales of these chips are expected to help its earnings this year.
Given how useful specific GPUs are when it comes to cryptocurrency mining, many high-end PC graphics cards are hard to hunt down right now, or have skyrocketed in cost. CFO Lorna Ho described the demand as continuous, with co-CEO Mark Liu telling investors in the third quarter of 2017 that the firm received between $350m to $400m in revenue from this particular market segment.