NVIDIA Open To Restarting Production Of Dedicated GPUs For Crypto Mining Boom
Have you looked at the price of Bitcoin lately? The volatile currency ballooned to nearly $40,000 in recent weeks and is now hovering at a little over $37,000. This has prompted renewed interest in cryptocurrency mining (not that it ever dissipated completely), and if demand is high enough (J.P. Morgan reckons it could eventually hit a $146,000 valuation to rival gold investments), NVIDIA said it would once again manufacture GPUs specifically aimed at miners.
For the most part, mining Bitcoin is a tough gig for the casual user, in terms of making any meaningful money. Specialized ASIC hardware rules the day. However, there are some bigger operations that still employ scores of GPUs for mining. It is also worth noting that some people use GPUs to mine non-Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, and basically trade it for Bitcoin. So the price of Bitcoin is very much a relevant factor.
As frustrating as it is that the latest core PC gaming hardware seems to always be out of stock, NVIDIA is in the business of making money, and building specialized cards for cryptocurrency mining—known as CMPs—could make financial sense. NVIDIA chief financial officer Colette Kress acknowledged as much during a recent webcast at the 19th Annual J.P. Morgan Tech/Auto Forum Conference.
"If crypto demand begins or if we see a meaningful amount, we can also use that opportunity to restart the CMP product line to address ongoing mining demand," Kress said in response to a question about the business end of cryptocurrency mining.
That is a tough pill to swallow for gamers who are frustrated at the lack of available GeForce RTX 30 series graphics cards from first-party sellers. The latest GPUs from both NVIDIA and AMD (Radeon RX 6000 series) are in short supply, and selling for jacked up prices by marketplace sellers. Toss in competition from bots to obtain what few cards are available, and it is simply a maddening situation for gamers in need or want of an upgrade.
Miners also present competition for inventory. To what extent, however, NVIDIA does not know (or at least that is what the company is saying), but Kress downplayed the situation, attributing the bulk of sales being driving by gaming demand.
"We don't have visibility on how much of the RTX 30 series end demand comes from mining," Kress added. "So, we don’t believe it’s a big part of our business today. Gaming demand is very strong, and we think that’s larger than our current supply. This time feels different than what we had seen several years ago."
Hopefully that is an accurate statement, and that it stays that way. We already went through a shortage of GPUs during the last major cryptocurrency mining boom (that was not the only factor, though), and are looking forward to when the latest GPUs are more readily available.