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China Bitcoin mining firm eyes Taiwan IC design talent: report

2018/02/02 16:06:09

Taipei, Feb. 2 (CNA) Bitmain Technologies, a China-based Bitcoin mining device supplier, is eyeing integrated circuit design talent in Taiwan and recruiting Taiwanese tech specialists, Economic Daily News reported Friday.

In its top story that day, the Taiwanese business newspaper cited unnamed sources from the local IC sector as saying Bitmain is offering competitive compensation to persuade IC design talent to join the company.

The sources said Bitmain has targeted engineers currently working for Taiwan's leading IC designers such as MediaTek Inc., MediaTek subsidiary MStar Semiconductor Inc. and Global Unichip Corp.

On its website, Bitmain, founded in 2013, says the company is currently among the world's most recognizable Bitcoin companies and that most leading bitcoin miners in the world use Bitmain's application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chip technology.

Bitcoin mining is a peer-to-peer computer process used to secure and verify Bitcoin transactions, referring to payments from one user to another in a decentralized market.

Headquartered in Beijing, Bitmain currently has offices in Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, Qingdao, Chengdu, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

With bitcoin transactions on the rise, demand for Bitcoin mining devices is on the rise. Riding the wave of global bitcoin business, Bitmain has secured 80-90 percent of Bitcoin mining ASIC orders around the world, the report said.

The report added that Bitmain, a bitcoin mining chip designer, has also placed large orders with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the world's largest contract chipmaker, to roll out chips so it can meet strong global demand.

According to the report, Bitmain has even been among TSMC's top five clients. Solid demand for Bitcoin mining chips has helped TSMC offset the impact of a saturated smartphone market, enabling the Taiwanese chipmaker to report its highest-ever earnings in 2017.

The report said Bitmain already has an office in Hsinchu, near the Hsinchu Science Park, where many IC designers are located, and the Chinese firm is actively approaching engineers at MediaTek, MStar and Global Unichip.

However, Global Unichip told CNA that the company does not expect Bitmain's attempted poaching to be successful as the two companies have different technological specialties.

However, Ray Yang (楊瑞臨), a deputy division chief at the Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center (IEK) under the government-sponsored Industrial Technology Research Institute, said MediaTek could face more pressure from Bitmain.

Yang said talent poaching by Chinese IC firms could become a more pressing issue and Taiwanese firms need to raise compensation and boost competitiveness to persuade employees to stay.

(By Chang Chien-chung and Frances Huang)
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