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Shift’s in crypto min­ing mean video cards are back on the mar­ket for the rest of us

It was a big mo­ment when news broke in early May that Nvidia was once again sell­ing its graph­ics cards on its own web­site at the orig­i­nal re­tail price in the US. Not be­cause sell­ing them on­line was new, but be­cause it marked an im­por­tant point where GPUs were sud­denly back in stock after months of short­ages.

Both Nvidia and AMD have been post­ing record rev­enues of late due to the high de­mand for their prod­ucts thanks to the crypto min­ing boom, and while they’ve been gra­cious and play­ing down the ef­fect crypto min­ing has had on these num­bers, make no mis­take, it is most likely the pri­mary rea­son. Both how­ever are al­ready fore­cast­ing that the next quar­ter or two will show dras­ti­cally re­duces sales fig­ures. They can al­ready see that the writ­ing is on the wall for the crypto boom.

With the price of Bitcoin and Ethereum markedly lower than the boom peak, and in an eye-squinty way some­what sta­bi­lized at much lower val­ues, buy­ing a new graph­ics card just to mine on is now al­most not worth it.

For con­text, I built a mid-range min­ing rig just be­fore the min­ing peak hit. When the peak came it was min­ing at around $40 per day but was mostly at around the $25 per day range pre and post peak. Now, the same rig would be lucky to be do­ing $8 per day. For the amount of elec­tric­ity it chews through, that’s just about enough to pay for its run­ning costs and not much else.

No won­der new graph­ics cards aren’t be­ing snapped up. New hard­ware bought now likely won’t ever pay it­self off.

And things will prob­a­bly con­tinue to get bet­ter for gamers and worse for min­ers. With Ethereum soon to switch from “proof of work” to “proof of stake”, mean­ing the horse­power you bring to the ta­ble doesn’t mat­ter as much any­more. As the most mined cryp­tocur­rency, a drop in how ef­fec­tive your hard­ware is at min­ing Ethereum will fur­ther lower the re­wards.

Then there is the much talked about Bit­main prod­uct that is said to be com­ing very soon. With sil­i­con ded­i­cated to, and de­signed specif­i­cally for min­ing Ethereum, it should the­o­ret­i­cally blow even GPUs out of the wa­ter and do to Ethereum what Bit­main did to Bitcoin - start min­ing so fast the dif­fi­culty will ramp up quickly and make even GPUs ef­fec­tively worth­less at min­ing it.

As re­ported in Shop Talk, Aus­tralia is fi­nally see­ing GPU avail­abil­ity com­ing back to re­tail­ers, un­for­tu­nately the as­so­ci­ated price drops haven’t flowed through just yet, but I sus­pect it shouldn’t be too much of a wait be­fore that hap­pens.

US price of the AMD RX 580 over time. It’s al­most back to nor­mal

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