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Semiconductor Shortage, The Catalyst Fueling Gaming-Crypto War
Who would've thought crypto miners and gamers would ever cross paths? Well, a feud between the two communities is embroiling in the niche top-tier semiconductor market. At stake is the hottest property in the chip business - the cutting-edge NVIDIA graphics cards that provide the most advanced gaming graphics.
Gamers want these chips to experience the best and ultra-realistic gaming. Unfortunately, not everyone can get their hands on these chips, as crypto miners are buying them to crunch cryptographic codes and mine cryptocurrencies.
Computer-Shopping Bots Beating Humans
The ongoing duel to purchase these high-end chips coupled with a global semiconductor scarcity has shot up the prices as high as 300%. This surge has left thousands of consumers hanging in uncertainty, forcing them to sign up for daily raffles for the right to buy these chips.
Miners leverage graphics cards to mine new coins by performing computational work for validating cryptocurrency transactions. Nvidia's chips are apt for mining Ethereum, the second most popular digital currency after Bitcoin. Ethereum's value has increased fivefold since November last year, making mining a profitable business. This has propelled the use of computer-shopping bots to buy Nvidia graphics cards from e-commerce sites even before humans can click the buy button.
How Lack Of GPUs Can Affect Gamers
There are many people out there who might buy an OEM PC and later upgrade the GPU. If the add-on upgrade market for PCs continues to move in the same direction, users will be left with only logical option - paying OEM price for component upgrades. The idea of cutting off from buying upgrades might not sit well with the DIY gaming market and CPU retail channels.
Skyrocketing prices of these chips might not kill PC gaming completely, but losing out on high-end 3D hardware would disrupt the types of games available right now. PC gaming was the driving force behind the GPU market for decades, and now gamers are forced to hunt for chips.
If the GPU prices continue to soar and stay out of gamers' reach, there could be changes in the type of games for PCs. The platform would see a fewer number of AAA titles being launched.
Special Chips Designed For Cryptomining
Nvidia playing the peacemaker has split its latest chip technology into two different products. The company introduced GeForce for gamers, while the Cryptocurrency Mining Processor (CMP) chip was brought in for miners.
While GeForce is Nvidia's latest and greatest lineup, some of its key aspects have been toned down to make it less desirable for miners trying to crunch crypto codes. Cryptocurrency Mining Processor, on the flip side, comes sans all display outputs and is based on older Nvidia graphics cards, making it redundant for gamers.
Loyal Gamers Are Nvidia's Priority
Nvidia's aim behind splitting the technology is to push miners to purchase CMP chips and allow gamers to grab GeForce chips. "What we hope is that the CMPs will satisfy the miners and steer our GeForce supply to gamers," said CEO Jansen Huang during a call with analysts.
At the end of the day, it's the loyal gaming user base that matters the most to Nvidia, as miners are hoarding graphics cards because cryptocurrencies are booming at the moment. However, their demands could dry up once the value of digital currencies plummet, as the crypto market is very volatile.
While keeping crypto miners at bay isn't an easy task, Nvidia has ramped up its efforts to make chips useless for miners. The company did release slower graphics chips but failed miserably when miners hacked them and amplified their performance. The firm is now working on a new hard-to-hack variant of its slower graphics cards, enabling gamers to buy them and enjoy gaming to the fullest.