SHA-256 was published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2001 as a standard cryptographic hash function. Bitcoin uses SHA-256 and RIPEMD-160 hashes. These hashes are suited for GPU calculations and when used in combination with Scrypt type hashes they can allow normal PCs to be able to perform actions such as mining altcoin. SHA-256 was originally used for CPU calculations, but parallel GPU calculations for GPU mining and then FPGA calculations used for FPGA mining became common.
However, if this logic is executed on an ASIC, the amount of electricity used is reduced and calculation speed is increased. Due to this, the use of ASIC for ASIC mining is currently commonplace.