For the greater part of 2017, and now well into 2018, GPUs have been selling for far more than their manufacturer suggested prices. Often times, we see GPUs selling for 50% more than the MSRP. This has been due to the, widely documented, pillaging of GPU stocks by cryptocurrency mining farms and warehouses. This looks like it might all be coming to an end. Let’s dive deep into this.
Bitcoin mining has been around for a long time, but by the time it hit the mainstream, it was already unfeasible to mine using graphics cards, especially since most had moved on to ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) devices that were much faster at mining than GPUs. These ASIC devices are comprised of several FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays) which are essentially like integrated circuits whose circuits have yet to be defined. They can be programmed to take on billions of different configurations, whether they be CPUs (like the current implementations of the RISC-V architecture) or AI and DeepLearning accelerators like Intel markets their PCIe attached Arria FPGA cards.
Many cryptocurrencies learned from the mistakes that Bitcoin made; more specifically, they decided to use algorithms that are ASIC-safe. The ASIC-safe algorithms were not meant to be impossible to be implemented on ASICs, but so difficult that it would be a deterrent in and of itself. Ethereum and Monero were two such coins that succeeded in this. At least for some time.
The company that made its fortune off of Bitcoin mining ASICs, Bitmain, has recently announced the successful production of its Ethereum and Monero ASICs. Following this, Monero pushed to hardfork the chain in order to further tighten ASIC safety. Ethereum, however, has yet to make a play in terms of fortifying ASIC safety.
With the Ethereum ASIC, dubbed E3, due in July, many mining farms have canceled and ceased purchases of the GPUs. We’re already seeing the higher-end Nvidia cards and a variety of AMD cards prices drop toward MSRP. Every day we’re seeing cards at their lowest price points of 2018.
This news bodes well for all those looking to upgrade or build new gaming computers in the near future, especially so with the 11 series Nvidia hardware pending announcement sometime this summer. Building a computer is starting to look competitive against buying a pre-built one once again. It’s been a rough spell for performance computer enthusiasts. Looking forward, though, it’s starting to appear as though a GPU won’t account for nearly 50% of the computer cost, anymore.
Tell us, does this news make you want to go out and build a new computer? Maybe upgrade your existing? RAM prices are still at ridiculous highs, but that’s an entirely different topic.
Let us know what you think about the current state of custom built PCs, from the price of components in your area, the feasibility vs prebuilt computers, compatibility with Linux and other open source applications (gaming not excluded), and your experience in general and how that might have changed after that last few years. We’re really interested to hear how PC building differs around the world; whether you use primarily used parts, non-x86 (super interesting stuff), if you build high-end custom computers, modding, we want to hear about all of it, so let us know in the comments below.