Chipmakers AMD and Nvidia are planning to launch graphics processing units specifically designed to enable mining for cryptocurrencies.
Asus has listed two graphics cards based on Nvidia and AMD chips on its website, both under its own “Mining” range, but Nvidia is generally said to have a better chance of capturing the lead in this new market.
Although neither AMD nor Nvidia have said a lot about their plans, there are numerous credible reports that they will launch something like the cryptocurrency mining GPU launched by Sapphire Technology.
Sapphire has become the first company to produce a range of graphics cards purpose-built for cryptocurrency mining, according to a report in PCGamer.com.
Apparently there’s been a huge increase in demand for hardware that can be used to mine for cryptocurrencies, GPUs being the main component required.
The trend has caused a hike in prices for GPUs at online shops which are now often selling them for more than the manufacturers’ suggested retail price.
One example, taken from a table produced by Digital Trends, shows that Tiger Direct is selling Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti cards for $762 when the MSRP is $700.
The practice of cryptocurrency mining has been in existence for about eight years when bitcoin became the first decentralised cryptocurrency.
An explanation of how to mine some cryptocurrencies is published on LifeWire.com, but essentially it means providing book-keeping services for transactions and receiving an appropriate fee for your accounting work.
LifeWire says that, while bitcoin mining is largely reserved for large-scale operations, there are some opportunities in mining other, newer cryptocurrencies. The key to making money is keeping your costs low – reducing hardware investment, and electricity usage, which explains the demand for low-energy GPUs.
It might sound easy – making money from automated book-keeping services – but apparently it’s a computationally expensive task, and you basically need at least a small data centre if you’re going to do it seriously.
Some people say the mining companies are actually more important than the digital currencies themselves, because they help provide the infrastructure that makes it difficult to attack cryptocurrencies – of which there are many now. Starting with bitcoin, there are now at least 10 or 15 other really well-known ones.
But somehow it is actually possible to lose money in cryptocurrency mining, probably because you need so much hardware to do it properly – especially for bitcoins.
Right now, according to BitcoinWorldwide.com, some of the largest bitcoin mining pools are:
- Antpool – which mines about 15 per cent of all bitcoin blocks
- DiscusFish / F2Pool – which mines about 12 per cent of all bitcoin blocks
- BitFury Pool – which mines about 12 per cent of all bitcoin blocks
- BTCC – which mines about 7 per cent of all bitcoin blocks
- ViaBTC – which mines about 7 per cent of all bitcoin blocks
And GPUs are integral to all of these companies’ operations, the increased demand for which – as suggested earlier – is said to be impacting gamers who are having to pay more for their graphics cards because of the increase in demand.
AMD and Nvidia have long enjoyed having a large share of the games market so it would make sense for them to launch GPUs specifically for cryptocurrency mining.
Asus, meanwhile, has been selling a lot of laptops and associated components.