As much as cryptocurrency mining was originally designed to be something everyone could do with their home computer, those days are long gone. Today, whether you’re mining Bitcoin, Litecoin, DASH, or a host of other cryptocurrencies — the most effective way to do so is with a piece of hardware known as an ASIC miner.

It’s not a desktop PC or a dedicated graphics card mining rig — it’s something else. Application specific integrated circuits, or ASICs, are chips that are designed with a singular purpose, ranging from audio processing to managing a cellphone call. In the case of cryptocurrency mining though, these chips are built into specifically-designed motherboards and power supplies, constructed into a single unit. It’s not just a purpose built machine though, it’s purposely designed and developed hardware right down to the chip level.