According to video card maker Nvidia, the efficiency of its newest offering will be reduced by 50 percent when it’s used to mine cryptocurrency ethereum. This has left users scratching their heads, but the move is a deliberate one on the part of the manufacturer. Nvidia has explained that many crypto enthusiasts have taken to purchasing the cards to use for mining rather than gaming, contributing to a global shortage. This has prevented bona fide gamers, who the cards were intended for, from being able to purchase them. The move is an intentional intervention on the part of Nvidia, to make sure their cards end up in the hands of those they were designed for. However, not looking to neglect its newly acquired audience, the company will now also produce a bespoke crypto mining processor.
What are graphics cards used for?
Graphics cards, also known as video cards, are a piece of tech used to generate output images on devices like computers and smartphones. Their purpose is to render an image by converting data to a signal that’s more easily understood by the monitor.
The better a graphics card is, the more smoothly the image is produced, making these a vital piece of equipment for gamers, video editors, and even online gamblers. Let’s use the latter as an example.
Imagine, for a moment, that you visit a directory site to find some honest and in-depth online casino reviews. Once you’ve found a suitable provider, you progress to their website to play a slot game. You want your experience to be as immersive as possible, which means you require flawless animations and smooth transitions. A video card is your friend.
What’s the problem?
So, what’s the problem that Nvidia is trying to avoid? As we mentioned before, graphics cards are a vital component in gaming PCs. They help to enhance the user experience, so not having one negatively impacts this.
When one purchases a premium-quality video card, they’re assured of high-resolution graphics and a high frame rate, but they can’t get these without this essential piece of tech, which is now in short supply due to global manufacturing delays.
This means there’s only a finite number of cards currently on the market, and most of these are being snapped up by cryptocurrency investors. The reason they’re popular among this demographic is simple: they’re a useful piece of equipment when processing transactions and mining currencies.
In fact, these video cards are so handy that many miners combine several of them to create something known as a ‘rig’. This powerful machine is set up with the purpose of mining bitcoins and other virtual currencies.
How has Nvidia combated this issue?
So, how has Nvidia tried to resolve this situation and avoid losing its core gaming demographic? By creating a product that disadvantages crypto miners. Enter its latest GeForce RTX 3060 card, which reduces efficiency by around 50 percent when used to process Ethereum transactions.
This will make it less cost-effective for miners to use the cards. It’s interesting that the company has chosen to focus on Ethereum transactions specifically, but there’s a good reason for this: Ethereum has the highest global mining yield among GPU-mineable coins and is key to driving the demand for graphics cards.
However, it would make little sense to alienate this newfound core demographic, so Nvidia has found a workaround: it’s opted to manufacture and sell a specially designed range of crypto-mining processors.
In an interview with the BBC, Nvidia revealed something interesting about these: that they’ll use less energy and therefore be more economical for miners than the video cards they’re currently utilising. This creates a win-win situation for all involved. Or does it…?
Are cryptocurrencies ‘anti-efficient’?
While these new Nvidia processors will use less energy than video card rigs, they haven’t pleased everyone; critics of bitcoin suggest the company should have gone even further. That’s because, according to them, the energy consumed by crypto-currencies is ‘wasteful’.
David Gerard, a vocal opponent of bitcoin and author of Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain, recently labelled the cryptocurrency as “anti-efficient”. He suggests that creating more efficient hardware is not the solution and will only encourage more widespread usage.
Tell us, what do you think of these developments: are they a force for good, a non-event, or entirely unnecessary?
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