Whinstone US, a Texas-based data centre developer, is about to start work on what is billed as the world’s largest bitcoin "mine" in Rockdale, a town in the centre of the San Antonio-Houston-Dallas triangle.
The mine – actually a server farm – is being built on ground owned by aluminium producer Alcoa, which has turned former factories into a business park. It will begin as a $150m, 16,700 sq m facility for turning electricity into money. By the end of 2020 it is expected to cover almost 100,000 sq m and consume 1GW of electricity.
The project is being undertaken by Whinstone in partnership with Japanese tech company GMO Internet. Whinstone, which already operates a mine in Louisiana, is developing others in the Netherlands and Sweden.
Whinstone has just been acquired by German rival Northern Bitcoin, which runs a mine in Norway based on hydropower. The all-share deal valued Whinstone at about €180m. Aroosh Thillainathan, co-founder of Whinstone US, said the deal could "shape the future course of the global mining industry".
To mine bitcoins, computers have to solve mathematical problems by the "brute force" method of making random guesses. As the chance of solving a problem on the first guess is in the order of one in 13 trillion, it requires a huge level of computer power to mine coins.
Whinstone will carry out the mining on behalf of clients. So far, the company says, it has two publicly traded companies as customers.
Image: Breaking ground at the Rockdale bitcoin mine (Whinstone)