GPUs – Used for Mining more
We all know bitcoin mining is horrible, not least because it prevents us from purchasing graphics cards for the reason for which they were built, namely gaming. However, it’s been difficult to put a figure on how many GPUs are used in professional mining systems until recently.
Jon Peddie Research (JPR) has crunched the numbers and believes it has the answer: 25% of all GPUs sold in the first quarter of 2021 went to work on the crypto front lines. This equates to over 700,000 high-end and mid-range graphics cards valued at around $500 million.
Farms Racking GPUs
According to the research, this is just for professional mining companies, not for hobbyists looking to supplement their income by mining on the side to help pay for their new computer. We’re talking about massive farms with racks upon racks of graphics cards hammering away around the clock, seven days a week.
The methodology JPR utilises includes a lot of assumptions about where graphics cards are used and how they’re purchased, but it focuses on the fact that PC shipping sales are slightly down while GPU sales are up significantly. The fact that graphics card prices are currently all over the place doesn’t help matters much, as the article points out.
Hash Rate limiter by Nvidia
According to the article, Nvidia has produced mining-focused cards as well as a hash rate limiter to try to prevent bitcoin mining on gaming GPUs, whilst AMD has done nothing. It appears to overlook the fact that the RTX 3080 Ti has a hash rate limiter, making it a poor choice for mining, and certainly not in the same league as the RTX 3090.
Even with such assumptions, the 25% figure doesn’t seem out of wack, at least in the absence of data from all the hardcore mining operations that we’ll never see (and probably wouldn’t want to look at anyway).
Because Ethereum’s price is still so high, new graphics cards are still an enticing alternative for mining. Getting a new GPU for gaming will remain a challenge until that changes.