How A lot Did Cryptocurrency Mining Inflate GPU Costs?

Rate this post


Radeon HD 5870 BTC mining rig

I began mining Bitcoin (BTC) in 2013 utilizing a set of twin ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics playing cards (GPUs) stuffed in an outdated desktop chassis and hidden away in my basement. The rig was loud. It used a ton of energy and the followers struggled to maintain up with GPU cooling wants. I eliminated the facet panel of the case and pointed a field fan on the rig to ease the inferno.

In 2013, I earned $4/day in BTC and spent $2/day on electrical energy. Not dangerous for passive earnings, however mining BTC was removed from passive. The rig wanted extra consideration than my 2-year-old daughter. 

Crashes have been near-constant. A gentle brownout, web hiccup, or sideways look would freeze issues up and require a reboot. After simply a few months, I parted out the mining rig and offered the GPUs for a pleasant revenue. Radeon HD 5870s have been going for above-market costs as a result of BTC had risen to $250 making mining extra worthwhile and GPUs tougher to seek out.

Even in 2013, the GPU provide chain had hassle maintaining with spiking demand from cryptocurrency mining.

ASICs Disrupt the Market

Late in 2013, mining noticed an enormous disruption with the looks of chips that have been custom-built to do just one factor, mine BTC. In contrast to CPUs or GPUs, ASICs have been solely designed to mine cryptocurrencies. ASICs have been vastly superior to GPUs in that they used much less energy and produced exponentially larger hash charges, which decided mining pace and profitability.

I used the revenue from my GPU sale to drop $200 on a Butterfly Labs Jalapeño ASIC miner. Then I waited. And waited…and waited some extra.

If I had obtained the ASIC after I positioned the order, hash charges dictated I might have earned 10+ BTC per day. Nevertheless, ASIC producers have been new to the enterprise. They didn’t have a strong understanding of freight administration, ship instances, or distribution. At the moment’s distributors use enterprise useful resource planning (ERP) software program to handle the advanced dance of getting an merchandise manufactured in China to my home in Atlanta. However Butterfly Labs had no such software program.

I ultimately obtained my Jalapeño miner in late 2013. I used to be bummed to see that mining competitors had spiked with the introduction of ASICs. My little Jalapeño may solely eke out 0.02 BTC/day. I eliminated the quilt and used my field fan trick and a slight overclock to snag a few further proportion factors. However competitors saved climbing. In lower than a month, I used to be incomes lower than 0.002 BTC/day — $2 on the time.

I turned off the Jalapeño and left it to gather mud within the basement. In contrast to GPUs, ASICs had little worth after their mining lifespan. They couldn’t be used for a lot else.

Ethereum Is Launched

Mining EthereumI gave up on mining till I heard a couple of new cryptocurrency, referred to as Ethereum (ETH), from my Fb crypto group. In contrast to BTC, Ethereum used a hashing algorithm referred to as SHA3, which was presupposed to be ASIC-proof. Mining with GPUs made sense once more.

I arrange a brand new rig with twin Radeon RX 470 GPUs. However I used to be annoyed with how a lot I needed to pay. The 470 was a mid-range GPU and was already considerably outdated in 2018. The GPU demand cycle had begun once more and I used to be behind the curve. 

Nonetheless, I arrange my RX 470 GPUs with a base mannequin Dell and began mining. The Dell didn’t have area for 2 GPUs so I used a PCIe extender that enabled me to have sufficient area for each playing cards. Nevertheless, this setup meant one of many RX 470s was hanging precariously out of the case.

Coincidentally, the perpetually rappelling GPU maintained a decrease core temp as a result of it was hanging exterior of the case. Completely satisfied accidents.

Profitability Declines Once more

The decline in Ethereum profitability has been slower. ASICs have by no means fairly taken over the GPU market. However a 2019 “crypto winter” noticed earnings shrink with the worth of ETH. I now not had a basement to spare, so my mining rig lived within the nook of my bed room. My spouse was not pleased with this association. I quickly parted with my Dell and offered the GPUs, however this time for a loss.

The Cycle Continues

In late 2021, crypto winter was breaking. Costs of BTC and ETH returned to all-time highs and saved climbing. World adoption of cryptocurrencies had grown. However a chip scarcity, fueled by the pandemic, meant the availability of GPUs didn’t develop with mining demand. Costs on second-hand markets like eBay exploded since nobody may discover a new GPU in shops. In accordance to a report from JPR, crypto miners purchased 25% of all GPUs produced within the first half of 2021.

Tom’s {Hardware} scrapped eBay to spotlight how crypto-induced demand and pandemic-reduced provide mixed for an ideal storm of GPU costs.

Prices from Toms Hardware

There was a transparent improve in public sale costs in February 2021. Restricted provide meant fewer GPUs have been being offered, and those that did hit the market have been going 3X over retail. In spite of everything, why would somebody promote their RTX 3090 after they may use it to mine themselves and make a hefty return?

A 12 months Earlier than Costs Start to Stabilize

After a tough 12 months for GPU purchasers, we’re starting to see mild on the finish of the tunnel. Crypto costs are off from their all-time highs. And Nvidia and AMD are lastly starting to ship extra GPUs. It’s nonetheless close to unimaginable to seek out them in shops, however GPU costs on eBay are falling.


Will Proof-of-Stake Break the Cycle?

Together with rising provide, and slowing mining demand, there’s a darkish horse affecting GPU costs at present: proof-of-stake. BTC, ETH, and most different cryptocurrencies have traditionally relied on a proof-of-work mannequin for sustaining blockchain decentralization and safety. Basically, rewards are distributed to miners based mostly on how a lot hash charge, or processing work, they contribute. (It is a simplistic rationalization. For extra particulars on mining, watch this.)

Proof-of-stake upends this conventional mannequin and distributes rewards to somebody who “stakes” present ETH. So, on common, you earn extra by staking extra ETH, and never by contributing extra work within the type of algorithmic hashes.

We don’t know precisely when the ETH blockchain will totally transition to proof-of-stake. However the basic consensus is the top of 2022. At the moment, a whole bunch of hundreds of miners will now not have the ability to mine ETH with their GPUs. Some could swap to different cryptocurrencies, however many will offload their GPUs on reseller markets. I predict we see drastically diminished GPU costs.

Some miners could select to get out forward of this transition and promote their GPUs earlier than the market is disrupted. So we’ll probably see continued declines all through 2022.

However, who is aware of? One other cryptocurrency utilizing proof-of-work could explode in the marketplace and start the cycle yet again. I do know my outdated Dell case is able to get again within the recreation.


This text was written by Priceonomics accomplice Recurrency, and initially printed to their weblog.


Supply hyperlink