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AMD Bitcoin Businesses The Almighty Buck Hardware

Chipmakers Nvidia, AMD Ride Cryptocurrency Wave -- For Now (bloomberg.com) 57

During California's Gold Rush, it was often the sellers of pickaxes and shovels who made the most money. In the frenzy to get rich quick from cryptocurrencies, some investors are calling computer chipmakers the modern-day equivalent. From a report: Shares of Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices have gained at least 14 percent since the beginning of June, spurred in part by about a 10-fold boom from April to June in a market, known as ethereum, for a currency that can be used to buy computing power over the internet. What's the link between ethereum and these Silicon Valley chipmakers? It lies in the really powerful graphics processors, designed to make computer games more realistic, that are also needed to gain access to encrypted digital currencies. Nvidia and AMD have rallied in the last month and a half even as investors have ignored chip stocks leaving the benchmark Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index up about 1 percent. Nvidia has gained 14 percent and AMD rallied 27 percent. While some of that has come from optimism around new products for other markets, analysts are projecting that sales related to cryptocurrencies will result in a spike in revenue for both companies. Even so, investors shouldn't bank on a lasting impact from the cryptocurrency boom, said Stacy Rasgon, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. "This has happened before," Rasgon said. "It lasted about a quarter." [...] Like bitcoin, ethereum is an attempt by an online community to create an economy that doesn't rely on government-backed currencies. Unlike bitcoin, it's focused solely on offering decentralized computing and storage services. Those seeking to use these services -- and speculators looking for a quick profit by creating and then selling ether -- have seized on graphics cards, which excel at performing multiple simple calculations in parallel, as a faster way to claim the blocks of code that act as the currency of the ethereum market. Demand from ethereum miners has created temporary shortages of some of the graphics cards, according to analysts, who cite sold-out products at online retailers. Estimates of additional sales from this demand run as high as $875 million, according to RBC Capital Markets analyst Mitch Steves. That would roughly equal AMD's total sales from graphics chips last year, or half of Nvidia's quarterly sales of those components. But Steves and other analysts are also quick to warn that the market opportunity could fizzle out.
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Chipmakers Nvidia, AMD Ride Cryptocurrency Wave -- For Now

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 17, 2017 @01:37PM (#54826841)

    What's not to love about people intentionally burning as much electricity as they can to get nothing useful done?

    • Yeah, the power companies love the NSA.

    • FWIW my GTX 1080 uses 100-105W while mining ETH. The whole machine uses 260W instead of roughly 170W while idle.

      • You must be running that on a laptop; because the 1080 for that platform is specced out to consume 110 watts whereas the desktop card will pull 180. I have a 1070 in my desktop, and it pulls maximum draw for what it's specced under load; 150 watts.

        • Can't speak to the person who posted this, but a lot of miners underclock their GPUs because of diminishing returns on the cost of power vs. the gains in performance.
        • by Khyber ( 864651 )

          "You must be running that on a laptop"

          No, we underclock and undervolt it. Some (very few, i'm probably one of a couple dozen) even go so far as to flash modified firmware on their cards for more control over power usage.

        • ETH mining only uses 58% GPU power on my machine, with no underclocking or undervolting. The bottleneck is in the memory controller, for some reason Dagger-Hashimoto algorithm is not efficient on 1080. Some say it's the GDDR5X architecture, however on the 1080 Ti it works very well.

          Yes, the 1070 goes all the way to the maximum, and has a much better hashrate. The 1080 does 20-21 Mhashes, up to 25 with overclocked memory.

      • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

        170W when idle is either really bad design or your PC is setup wrong, for comparison my laptop is running a trade bot and it's only consuming 5w.

        • It's a beast of a PC.
          i7 6800K Broadwell overclocked to 4.3 GHz, a GTX 1080, watercooling loop with 2x D5 pumps in series and 2x 360mm 60mm thickness EK-XE360 radiators, with the assortment of fans, HDDs, SSDs and whatnot (Aquaero, Farbwerk, etc). 170W includes other hardware such as router, external HDD and the power charge tower which is used to charge family's phones, tablets, etc. But those usually take around 15-20W of power.

          Monitors' power draw is calculated separately. About 30W each but when I am not

  • by Athanasius ( 306480 ) <slashdot@@@miggy...org> on Monday July 17, 2017 @01:40PM (#54826867) Homepage
    It seemed strange to read this /. story given I'd read the following earlier in the day: https://www.overclock3d.net/ne... [overclock3d.net]
    • Awesome. I can't wait to pick up some cheap GPUs to add to my TensorFlow machines.

      • As pointed out, in a somewhat tongue in cheek manner, in the source of the the URL, it's possible these GPUs have had non-standard firmware flashed, been OC'd like crazy and otherwise treated in a manner meaning you'd want them to be priced well under MSRP to risk buying one for any purpose. As it is, there may be more of them on the second-hand market now, but they're still being offered at above MSRP.
        • by Khyber ( 864651 )

          " it's possible these GPUs have had non-standard firmware flashed"

          Very few of us actually have that capability to modify and successfully flash modified firmware over. Most people just undervolt and underclock (and one guy went so far as to remove some of the physical RAM from the board because it was bad instead of going for RMA since the function isn't memory-bound more than it is bandwidth-bound.)

    • except that it's still profitable to mine Ethereum. GPU prices haven't come down yet

      • I'm not familiar with Ethereum but does it have scheduled declines in the rate of return? I know bitcoin did in that periodically the reward for finding a Bitcoin was scheduled to drop over time. That and the number of Bitcoins dropping meant that after a while it simply wasn't profitable to mine anymore
  • Quick! Pull money out of Ethereum and put it into NVIDIA stock!
  • It's usually the folks selling weapons of 'war' (all kinds of 'war') that benefit from conflict or, by extension, disruptions in economic models. It can be said that these kinds of conflicts are when most of the fundamental technological changes have occurred. Would we have our existing computational models without WWII? Integrated circuits without the Cold War and Space Race? Here's to hoping the merchants of change are well compensated.
  • unsustainable (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Khashishi ( 775369 ) on Monday July 17, 2017 @02:52PM (#54827445) Journal

    AFAIK, all cryptocurrencies are not scalable. You have to verify all transactions against an ever-growing blockchain which contains all transactions. Race type collisions will become more and more frequent with more people in the system. Eventually, it will come to a grinding halt, or people will move on to other things. Maybe there's a solution, but it doesn't exist yet. The founders certainly know that it can't last, so it's basically a Ponzi scheme.

    • If financial institutions don't make ever increasing gains out of handling the crypto currencies they will replace the with something more lucrative.
    • I'm not saying if cryptocurruencies are viable long term, but the people who create them aren't without tools to fix problems, especially if there's wide consensus about the problem. They can and already have created forks to solve problems just like this.
    • by Khyber ( 864651 )

      "AFAIK, all cryptocurrencies are not scalable."

      Correct, we ran into this problem already in the 70s with permission-less distributed databases. Apparently nobody bothered to learn that exponential data inputs * logarithmic growth = utterly fucking unsustainable.

    • Cheeseburgers going from 10 cents to $5 a piece over one generation is sustainable?

      Fed-imposed stealth taxes are sustainable?

      Taking people's money based on their political views to fund the DC millionaires club is sustainable?

      Getting everyone dependent on the government is sustainable?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    AMD and nVidia both resisted these calls for the longest time, because they know what most smart investors know: that crypto is a fad that will come and go.

    Even as the recent runup has all but completely evaporated, hashpower is leaving the blockchains in droves, and there is already a glut of very lightly used GPUs being sold on ebay and craigslist at huge losses.

    I saw GTX 1070s on our local craigslist for $300 this morning, and there were literally dozens of them in that price range, when they were sellin

  • I don't think they have increased production of GPUs by too much, which is why we see inflated prices - production hasn't met demand. This happened during the last coin bubble was well. AMD made hardly anymore money than normal, because they weren't able to crank up production.

  • Subject related to semiconductor business in particular and/or computers in general.

    Press word salad, insert stock market prediction re company X's stock will be skyrocketing/plummeting because of some random sentence heard at the local bar, but taken out of context. Regardless in it goes, then word salad on various computer terms that have little bearing on what the particular item is for.

    Press word salad and Exit together. Print that sucker.

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