News is busy this week and features a story that we'd love to know more about: The Cedar Supercomputer accidentally running cryptomining software for 6 hours a day under the nose of researchers. We're also talking about DDR5 and AMD's future roadmap (all tentative), the Ryzen 3 1200 AF & 1300 AF CPUs coming to market, Unigine Community 2 SDK, TSMC earnings, and more.
Show notes continue after the video embed.
Analyst Christopher Rolland recently confirmed Bitmain’s completed development of a new ASIC miner for Ethereum (and similar cryptocurrencies), and thusly reduced stock targets for both AMD and NVIDIA. According to Rolland, Bitmain’s ASIC may eat into GPU demand by cryptomining companies, as the ASIC will outperform GPUs in efficiency for the hashing power.
Rolland noted that this may, obviously, reduce demand for GPUs for mining applications, highlighting that an approximate 20% of AMD and 10% of NVIDIA sales revenue has recently come from mining partners.
Newegg today revoked its affiliate commission for video cards, which the company's sub-affiliate networks declare to be a change pursuant to "Bitcoin's unexpected popularity." This statement, of course, is comprised primarily of a misunderstanding or misattribution of the market (or bullshit, in other words), although it does consist of some truth. By "Bitcoin," we must first assume that the company really means "cryptocurrency," seeing as Bitcoin is functionally unminable on GPUs. Making this assumption still does not account for the GPU price increase, though; the price increase, as we've discussed on numerous occasions, is mostly resultant of GPU memory prices and GPU memory availability moving in inversely proportional directions. In recent interviews with manufacturers, we learned that 8GB of GDDR5 has increased in manufacturing cost, and has increased BOM, by $20-$30. From what we understand, GDDR5 price movements are typically on a scale of +/- $5, but the $20-$30 hike necessitated some vendors to officially raise GPU MSRP (not just third-party retail price, but actual MSRP).
Samsung recently officially confirmed that they are producing ASICs (Application-Specific Integrated Circuits) intended for cryptocurrency mining, being sold to unnamed clients for ASIC mining machines. These machines are different from GPU miners, and do not meaningfully affect desktop GPU supply.
As the name implies, ASICs are chips designed for a single purpose. There’s nothing unusual about producing ASICs, but mining-specific ones have been the domain of TSMC until now, primarily with client Bitmain. Samsung won’t be doing the mining themselves, just supplying the hardware: TechPowerUp suggests the order was placed by “Chinese clients” which were mentioned in a recent earnings report. Our understanding is that the varieties of cryptocurrency which ASICs can effectively mine are ones that are now beyond the capabilities of home mining operations, like Bitcoin, so they’re used by massive currency farms. SHA-256 algorithms are best mined with ASIC miners.
We’re revisiting a topic from July 2017, initially published in the middle of one of last year’s cryptocurrency booms. That topic was our discussion with GPU add-in board partners and PSU makers, where we collected anonymized, aggregate thoughts on cryptomining and its impact on the consumer GPU market. Given the tremendous growth of the cryptocurrency community in the time since, and the recent explosion of GPU prices up to 3-5x their MSRP (depending on if it’s a primary or secondary seller), we decided it was time to revisit the topic once more.
This information is anonymized and aggregated for a few reasons: One, no one would be able to share their thoughts otherwise, as this isn’t a topic that can be officially approached; two, it allows folks to speak more freely, as if there were an official response, you can be assured it’d tread the line of neutrality to a point of being bereft of insight. We spoke to most of the major GPU board partners and some PSU maker representatives, including the original group of folks we spoke with in mid-2017, now back to re-evaluate their positions from six months ago.
This episode of Ask GN posts on the tail of the X299 and Kaby Lake X / Skylake X embargo lift and in the midst of the newest cryptocurrency craze, which has set upon the video card market like a swarm of locusts.
We’re addressing two general questions we’ve seen around the internet, then following-up with reader/viewer-submitted questions. If you’d like to pose a question for the next Ask GN, the best place to do so would be in either our Patreon discord or in the video comments.
We've recently complained about video card prices skyrocketing due to recent discoveries that AMD GPUs are particularly good at mining Litecoin, a cryptocurrency similar to BitCoin. When this discovery was made, we saw photos floating around the internet of entire stacks of 7970s, R9 290s, and other cards, all purchased with the intention of mining these coins.
This, in tow of the normal holiday season madness, resulted in nearly all current AMD GPUs selling out across the web, all the way down to the 7850. Prices doubled as a result, allowing retailers to reap the demand for a short time -- we've seen 2GB 7850s for $180 on Newegg, where they were just $90 a week or two ago. If you've been wondering why video cards are so expensive right now, this is why.
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