DEFINITION of ASIC
ASIC, or application-specific integrated circuit, is an integrated electronic circuit that is designed for a distinct use, like cryptocurrency mining.
BREAKING DOWN ASIC
In the virtual currency world, ASICs are new-age mining devices that supersede CPUs, GPUs, and FPGAs, both in terms of low power consumption and in offering higher computing power. ASICs have maintained their lead after gaining traction in mid-2013, when other hardware mining devices started hitting their bottlenecks in mining.
The development and manufacturing of ASIC as mining devices is a costly and complex process.
Each ASIC is usually designed to mine a particular cryptocurrency only. For example, a Bitcoin ASIC can mine only bitcoins, while a Litecoin ASIC can mine only Litecoins. There are a few rare ASIC products available in the market which allow mining two cryptocurrencies, but they too are combinations of two ASICs each capable of mining a particular virtual currency.
ASICs are compared using the number of cores that are placed on the chip. This number of hashing engines determines its processing speed and efficiency.
ASIC miners are also compared using their Hash Power, which indicates the number of hashes per second a ASIC miner can generate. The cost of ASIC increases in proportion to the number of cores and the hash power it provides. (For more, see How Does Bitcoin Mining Work?)