Part of the security of the Chia Blockchain, and what makes up the “time” portion of the “proof of space and time” is the Verifiable Delay Function, which helps to ensure that the proof provided by the proof of space was done in the correct window and at the right time. This is a core function of the Chia Network and requires a very beefy CPU to make all the correct calculations in the time given. The fastest Timelord on the network is the one that produces the VDF for the block being farmed. ASIC timelords will be custom built silicon to handle that particular calculation much much faster than a general purpose computer. With Chia, there is no reward for the Timelord process so this shouldn’t create an arms race as much as guarantee that VDFs are being done as quickly as possible.
Chia Network has been teasing this in their AMAs for some time but now they have released a press release with the details of the partnership, with Supranational, to produce the ASIC timelords. There are a few hyperbolic quotes from Bram about how faster VDFs will make the best security even better. But there are no real details about the ASIC or what form it will take. Will it be a PCIe card? A network device? We don’t know.
The units are meant to launch in H2 2022, so about a year from now, and I fully expect them to be a very expensive, niche product. I might see if they will send me one to take a look at when they launch.