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Surge In Litecoin Mining Leads To Graphics Card Shortage 213

Posted by timothy
from the cost-of-doing-business dept.
New submitter Kenseilon writes "Extremetech reports that the recent price hike of Litecoins has triggered yet another arms race for the *coinminers out there, leading to a shortage of AMD graphics cards. While Bitcoin mining is quickly becoming unfeasible for GPU rigs with general purpose graphics cards, there are several alternative currencies with opportunities. The primary candidate is now Litecoin, which has the aim of 'being silver if Bitcoin is gold' Swedish Tech site Sweclockers also reports [in Swedish] that GPU manufacturer Club3D have told them that miners are becoming a new important group of potential customers. However, concerns are being raised that this is a temporary boom that may hurt AMD in the long run, since gamers, their core consumer group, may not be able to acquire the cards and instead opt for Nvidia."
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Surge In Litecoin Mining Leads To Graphics Card Shortage

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  • Ummm Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 14, 2013 @02:47AM (#45687687)

    All my usual retailers have stock, this is just an article to pump up litecoin activity and interest.
    It isn't silver to BTC gold, it offers no great advantages over BTC hat can't be integrated into the bitcoin protocol if deamed worthy and you cant buy anything with it except other crypto-currencies.

    This article is spam at best , a pump and dump endorsement at worst.

    • Re:Ummm Bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

      by FlyHelicopters (1540845) on Saturday December 14, 2013 @03:13AM (#45687759)
      Newegg has had a hard time keeping any 280x, 290, and 290x cards in stock. I haven't seen a 290 card in stock for a week now.

      Newegg has them priced $50-100 over retail, the demand is huge and when they restock, they tend to sell out within an hour or two.

    • Re:Ummm Bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

      by martinux (1742570) on Saturday December 14, 2013 @03:13AM (#45687763)

      What in fact has happened is the availability of a number of optimal* cards - particularly the Radeon 7950 - have massively decreased due to miners buying them. As you would expect market demand has resulted in a significant price hike. Radeon cards provide higher hash rates than nVidia cards and so they are more popular to miners in general. There are a number of benefits to litecoin, particularly the faster transaction time. If you're a litecoin miner decryption is optimised for GPUs rather than ASICs (which have a much, much higher uptake in bitcoin mining) and thus is not the realm of high-cost ASICs or FPGAs.

      Whilst I do appreciate that bitcoin and litecoin are 'hot topics' at the moment there are many interesting consequences that have emerged as a result of the uptake in both the currency and technology required to maintain the currency. Thus, I do think there is something to talk about here.

      * The cards are optimal in that they give the fastest hash-rate to power-consumption ratio.

      • Now you have your graphics cards and hard mined coin what do you do next?
        Do you sit on them in the hope they grow; Do you purchase something with them or do you arbitrage them https://medium.com/bitcoin-bits-1/fc0098ac0511 [medium.com]?
        Decisions, decisions, decisions. . .

      • There are a number of benefits to litecoin, particularly the faster transaction time."

        Transaction times are the same as for Bitcoin - practically instant. The confirmations are faster, but I don't see why that's a benefit. Bitcoin could have a faster confirmation time, too. If you cut confirmation time in, say, half each confirmation would only provide half the security of the longer time since a confirmation would be twice as easy to get into the blockchain, all other things being equal.

        Now, you do get that first confirmation faster if the confirmation time target is lower, but if you'

      • How can you design an algorithm that works better on GPUs than ASICs? The only explanation I can think of is that the expectation is that it will never be popular enough to make designing the ASICs worthwhile as too few people would buy them.

        But that explanation implies that it will also not have the kind of trading volume that would make it stable enough to be worthwhile as a currency....

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Joce640k (829181)

      It isn't silver to BTC gold, it offers no great advantages over BTC hat can't be integrated into the bitcoin protocol if deamed worthy and you cant buy anything with it except other crypto-currencies.

      This article is spam at best , a pump and dump endorsement at worst.

      Sure, that's what they used to say about Bitcoin but look where Bitcoin is now.

      Litecoin is the future!

    • by Chemisor (97276)

      > it offers no great advantages over BTC

      At present it offers the great advantage of being worth mining. With bitcoin, the cost of production already exceeds value of the result, so there is no way to get rich quick. With litecoin there is. Until, that is, somebody comes up with yet another supercoin that everyone will start mining in hopes of a quick profit.

  • An Honest Question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) on Saturday December 14, 2013 @03:05AM (#45687735)
    Please help me out here. I'm asking seriously. If all you need to do to succeed at bitcoin mining is throw computer resources at it, and they are $1000 apiece, then why aren't all the world's supercomputers on the job making a thousand bucks a minute? The answer is of course, they have more important things to do. But even if they don't, they have the capacity to. It doesn't make sense to me. The whole currency could be deflated to nothing in one swell foop. If it could be so easily destroyed, then is its foundation really a solid one. I await enlightenment.
    • by FlyHelicopters (1540845) on Saturday December 14, 2013 @03:10AM (#45687749)
      Bitcoin is designed to be issued at a steady rate. If a dozen supercomputers suddenly starting mining, far fewer bitcoins would be issued. It would force the workload to the next harder level much sooner and thus reduce everyone's income.

      Ironically, if the NSA wanted to mess with bitcoin, just spending a few weeks mining would really mess up the income of a lot of miners.

    • by gweihir (88907)

      Simple: At the moment the electricity you need for Bitcoin mining costs more then the coins you get out of it, unless you have very specific hardware that is completely tuned to this task. Mining with graphics cards costs you money.

      The other thing is of course that Bitcoin is not a real currency and may crash at any time and without warning. All it takes is one large owner to cash in and the market panics. Even rumors of this happening could be enough. People that operate supercomputers are a bit more ratio

      • People that operate supercomputers are a bit more rational than the Bitcoin fanatics.

        Unless the owner of a supercomputer wants to crash the Bitcoin market. :)

      • Simple: At the moment the electricity you need for Bitcoin mining costs more then the coins you get out of it, unless you have very specific hardware that is completely tuned to this task. Mining with graphics cards costs you money.

        That's why you mine other altcoins that are still minable on commodity hardware, like Litecoin. Their value goes up and down together with BTC, so the current sky-high BTC price also means that others are similarly high.

        The other thing is of course that Bitcoin is not a real currency and may crash at any time and without warning. All it takes is one large owner to cash in and the market panics. Even rumors of this happening could be enough.

        True, but if you pick the right coin, and you already have the hardware, you can completely recoup all present and future power costs for a month ahead in a couple of days right now. Cash those out (as in, money in your account in the bank), and from there on anything you mine is basically f

        • by gweihir (88907) on Saturday December 14, 2013 @09:23AM (#45688821)

          Simple: At the moment the electricity you need for Bitcoin mining costs more then the coins you get out of it, unless you have very specific hardware that is completely tuned to this task. Mining with graphics cards costs you money.

          That's why you mine other altcoins that are still minable on commodity hardware, like Litecoin. Their value goes up and down together with BTC, so the current sky-high BTC price also means that others are similarly high.

          Pure fantasy, designed to drive more people into the pyramid-scheme.

          The other thing is of course that Bitcoin is not a real currency and may crash at any time and without warning. All it takes is one large owner to cash in and the market panics. Even rumors of this happening could be enough.

          True, but if you pick the right coin, and you already have the hardware, you can completely recoup all present and future power costs for a month ahead in a couple of days right now. Cash those out (as in, money in your account in the bank), and from there on anything you mine is basically free money, with no risk whatsoever.

          You don't have to be a "Bitcoin fanatic" to be able to add up the numbers and conclude that, right now, this is a profitable game to play. Ideology has zero relevance here so long as there's real money to be had.

          No, it is not "profitable" at all. It is a pyramid scam, even if it is a complicated one. The fact of the matter is that in a pyramid scam, almost everybody involved looses big-time, while a few in early make tons of money. It also requires people like you driving more greedy, but stupid sheep in there, or otherwise the few early ones do not get their desired earnings.

          So, no, even if a few people manage to scam a lot of money with Bitcoin or Litecoin or any other Scamcoin, most that were not in it from very early on will just lose everything they invested.

          • Pure fantasy, designed to drive more people into the pyramid-scheme. ... No, it is not "profitable" at all. It is a pyramid scam, even if it is a complicated one.

            $100 in my bank account say otherwise. What do you have to back your theories?

            And yes, sure, it is a pyramid scheme right now (well, actually, just a plain old bubble). I never contradicted that or claimed anything long-term, only that there's money to be had right now in this. The point is that with mining, this bubble can be milked with practically zero risk, right now. And I mean anyone mining, not just "a few".

            I already gave the specific numbers, I don't know why you persist in pretending that they don'

          • by guises (2423402)

            No, it is not "profitable" at all. It is a pyramid scam, even if it is a complicated one.

            Thank you for using the word pyramid. I've seen "Ponzi" so many times in relation to Bitcoin, despite being utterly unrelated. And then the Bitcoin defenders come out and say, "No, it isn't a Ponzi scheme." and of course they're correct, even though that's missing the point entirely.

      • What attribute of a "real" currency prevents collapse? Governments (looking at you Venezuela) will claim to enforce exchange rates, but once they run out of hard currency to trade at their declared rate (or just refuse to exchange at that rate), the collapse happens anyway. It's unlikely that there is anyone who would attempt to maintain a charade around a collapsed Bitcoin, but just because someone is willing to pretend doesn't make something real.

    • by Keruo (771880)
      Problem with bitcoin and other virtual currencies is pretty much same as real currencies as well.
      It accumulates to certain individuals who instead of keeping the cash flowing and market running hoard it like Scrooge McDuck.
      The imagined lack of availability with increased interest drives the price point up for those who participate at the market and this creates valuation bubble.
      Bitcointalk has nice estimates of the distribution in this thread [bitcointalk.org]
      • by DarkOx (621550)

        It accumulates to certain individuals who instead of keeping the cash flowing and market running hoard it like Scrooge McDuck.

        That isn't a problem. It just means few coins will exchange for more goods or services due to availability or lack there of.

        Sure long term deflation that does not end would be a problematic but there isn't much historic precedent out there for long term deflationary patterns. Where they have happened its been after a major inflationary event like a war, and the deflation mostly stops when the currency reaches prewar values such as the panics after the war of 1812.

        Ultimately deflation at the macro level is

      • by Skal Tura (595728)

        So in other words: People are the issue.

        Lol

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      Supercomputers are generally built of a large number of general purpose CPUs, which aren't all that good at bitcoin mining compared to dedicated ASICs... Even with hundreds or thousands of CPUs, you will consume more in power than you ever make in bitcoin.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      why aren't all the world's supercomputers on the job making a thousand bucks a minute?

      A dozen basement dweller with a few dozen specialized ASICs each is probably as good as a "supercomputer" at mining bitcoins.

      People who pay for supercomputers have better things to do than try to make a couple of hundred bucks in a lottery^W market speculation.

    • When a block of Bitcoin is solved, the bonus goes to the machine that solved the block and then everyone starts over. You're basically in a race each block to be the one to solve it. By having a larger portion of the total computing power, you increase your chances of hitting each block, but are by no means guaranteed to ever hit (much as you can put money down on both red and black on a roulette table and still lose since the house is playing green). At most, someone could approach generating BTC2.5/min as

  • It hurt AMD today... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FlyHelicopters (1540845) on Saturday December 14, 2013 @03:08AM (#45687741)
    I would love to buy a pair of 290x cards and Crossfire them, but the delay in aftermarket coolers has hurt and the overall beta state of their newest drivers hurts as well.

    NewEgg shipped my new pair of 780 TI cards today, equipped with Gigabyte Windforce aftermarket coolers, I'll finally get rid of most of the crappy FPS problem on my 3 Dell 30" monitors thanks to only having a single AMD 7970 card.

    Why not just buy a second 7970 card and Crossfire them? I considered it, but since they are impossible to find for a reasonable price, forget it (2 months ago they were under $300, today they are closer to $500). The microstutter problem also remains when Crossfiring two cards and also running Eyefinity.

    Given that the problem has been known for a year and still isn't fixed, I'm not giving AMD any more time.

    Off to NVidia for me! Oh well, shame on you AMD, loyal customer here, but you just didn't leave me any options.

    • by arbiter1 (1204146)
      that stutter thing with eyefinity is AMD SAYS they will have driver for in January, but its AMD and they have a shakey record keep time tables for things like this.
  • Don't worry (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gweihir (88907) on Saturday December 14, 2013 @03:08AM (#45687745)

    When the bubble bursts, cheap cards will be available in large numbers. And the bubble will burst, even Bitcoin is subject to economic rules and historically demonstrated facts. Its very volatility shows that its value has no basis in reality.

    • Bitcoin is speculative. By design, it's not backed by any sovereign nation and its government. It's truly a double-edge sword. It also makes for great legalized gambling. Anyone that's in the Bitcoin scene knows it. It's always been a game of skill and luck as to who can cash out in real Dollars/Yuan/Euros/ before the majority does. You know, to the kind that is sovereign currency! Hah!

      • by gweihir (88907)

        I don't dispute that. And if you have disposable income to use here and understand what the nature of the game is, that is fine.

        The problem is that many, many people do not get that this is how the game is rigged, and for them it becomes a non-classical Pyramid scam. Sure, stupidity has its cost, but this is not mere stupidity. It is people all over the Internet deliberately lying about the nature of Bitcoin, in the hopes of attracting more suckers so their payout will be larger. As in a classical pyramid-s

  • Make mining useful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by benob (1390801) on Saturday December 14, 2013 @04:39AM (#45687985)

    When will a *coin virtual currency make calculations useful for science? I can't help but feel this whole thing is total a waste of energy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      When will a *coin virtual currency make calculations useful for science? I can't help but feel this whole thing is total a waste of energy.

      There already is, Timekoin is the most efficient digital currency out there, any spare CPU time can be used for a whole range of science research from any number of old servers given new life.

    • There's PrimeCoin where the miners generate prime numbers

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primecoin [wikipedia.org]

    • by Idou (572394)
      Looks like there are some non-trivial challenges [bitcointalk.org] to doing this:
  • As I understand it, the supply of maximum number of Bitcoin is limited, which is supposed to preserve the value, much as the limit on the amount of available gold, and the cost of mining additional gold, preserves its value. But aren't there an unlimited possible number of cryptocurrencies like Litecoin?

    In the world of metals, by analogy, it would be as if there were a limited supply of silver and gold, but a new precious metal (with its own limited supply) could be created at any time. Would metals then

  • However, concerns are being raised that this is a temporary boom that may hurt AMD in the long run, since gamers, their core consumer group, may not be able to acquire the cards and instead opt for Nvidia

    Concerns? Sounds like concern trolling to me. Since when is it a bad thing that your products are so popular that you can barely keep them on the shelf, and they're selling well above MSRP? Most vendors would kill to attain that level of popularity. It's not just due to short supply, either – the Ta

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