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I'm looking into the re-use of ASIC miners to perform other mathematical tasks; for example, the sum of a prime and a random number producing a massive (arbitrarily long) integral value

i.e. sum(121 ^ 98435903485039)

Note: I require the result of the sum, not the hash of the result of the sum.

  • What mathematical tasks can an ASIC perform?
  • Do they have to be targetted specifically, or will the host machine naturally offload mathematical processing tasks to the ASIC?
  • If ASICs need to be targetted specifically, how does mining software target the hardware capabilities of an ASIC?
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The ASIC of a miner cannot perform arbitrary maths, they can only perform SHA-256 hash computations. You can hash other things besides the blockchain, but you cannot instruct your miner to give you the result of 1 + 1, or any other arithmetic operation.

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What mathematical tasks can an ASIC perform?

Only the exact task they were designed to perform,

Do they have to be targetted specifically, or will the host machine naturally offload mathematical processing tasks to the ASIC?

They have to be targeted specifically.

If ASICs need to be targetted specifically, how does mining software target the hardware capabilities of an ASIC?

The ASIC is specifically designed to mine and provides an interface for the mining software specifically to tell it what to mine and to read back the results of its mining.

ASICs, essentially by definition, cannot be repurposed. The whole advantage of an ASIC is that it s totally and completely optimized for a single task and no resources are wasted on the ability to do other things.

For general purpose computing tasks like you're describing, you want a modern CPU or GPU.

  • Okay, so what IS the task that an ASIC performs (in the mathematical sense) - Presumably an ASIC can be reused provided that something is invented that CAN re-use the mathematical capability of an ASIC? – series0ne Oct 22 '14 at 10:20
  • @series0ne The ASIC performs the specific task it was built to perform. It is usually entirely optimized for that purpose. For mining ASICs, that's mining. If you want a component that can be flexibly re-tasked, you want a CPU or GPU. A mining ASIC can't sum things for two reasons: 1) It has no hardware that does sums. 2) It has no hardware to output large results. Why? Because mining doesn't require either of these things, so why would they waste space and have fewer mining cores? – David Schwartz Oct 22 '14 at 10:38
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    Hence the Application Specific part – Wizard Of Ozzie Oct 22 '14 at 14:36

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