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Nvidia Will Focus on Gaming Because Cryptocurrencies Are 'Volatile' (vice.com) 122

Graphics card manufacturer Nvidia made almost $10 billion dollars in the last fiscal year, that's up 41 percent from the previous period. The GPU company broke the news to its investors in a conference call on Thursday, and said that video games such as Star Wars: Battlefront II and Playerunknown's Battlegrounds as well as the unprecedented success of the Nintendo Switch led to the record profits. That and cryptocurrency. From a report: Graphics cards are the preferred engine of today's cryptocurrency miners. It's led to a shortage of the GPUs, a spike in their prices, and record profits for the company that manufactures them. "Strong demand in the cryptocurrency market exceeded our expectations," Nvidia chief financial officer Colette Kress told investors during its earnings call yesterday. "We met some of this demand with a dedicated board in our OEM business and some was met with our gaming GPUs." But Nvidia is having trouble keeping up with the demand and it's recommended retailers put gamers ahead of cryptocurrency miners while supply is limited. Kress acknowledged the shortage on the call and reaffirmed Nvidia's commitment to gamers. "While the overall contribution of cryptocurrency to our business remains hard to quantify, we believe it was a higher percentage of revenue than the prior quarter," she said. "That said, our main focus remains on our core gaming market as cryptocurrency trends will likely remain volatile." When Kress finished her statement and opened up the line to questions, the first question was about cryptocurrency. "Is crypto being modeled more conservatively?" An investor from Evercore asked. "We model crypto approximately flat," said Jensen Huang, Nvidia's chief executive officer.
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Nvidia Will Focus on Gaming Because Cryptocurrencies Are 'Volatile'

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  • As a gamer I afforded quite a lot of great cards just because they were paying for themselves when I wasn't gaming. I now have enough good computers that my friends don't need to bring theirs when we have a lan.. =)

    • What's your address? Do you have a lot of friends and family who'd be curious if you disappeared? Are the local police diligent in investigating disappearances or are they a bit sloppy?

      • by PIBM ( 588930 )

        I'm a small player in this field, and I've not been lucky with my investments, there are much better fish to fry :)
        At least it's keeping the house warm even with the -30C we are getting!

        Anyway, just getting to my remote location would cost most of your profits!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hasn't everyone switched to ASICs?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Only a few coins (Bitcoint, LiteCoin, for example) are able to be done on ASICs, many of the others are only more memory-intensive algorithms that only GPUs can handle efficiently.

      Speaking of volatility I need to figure a way to short these damn coins as anytime I buy a few even for trading purposes the damn coin tanks in value almost immediately.

    • Most of the new cryptocurrency is resistant to ASICs, hence the return of demand for GPUs

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      It depends. ASICs work great for one set of math for one currency given power prices.
      If the math gets more complex, the currency of interest changes that ASIC is a paperweight.
      A good GPU with a new mining ready gpu BIOS and lots of memory can be useful.
      The gpu can also keep some of its value when sold later.
  • "Volatile" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gma i l .com> on Friday February 09, 2018 @12:17PM (#56095401) Journal

    That's an efficient way to write "about to be squished like a bug by regulations, due to massive criminal finance capability that has amazingly been overlooked so far."

    • by pots ( 5047349 )
      I don't think it's been overlooked. Bitcoins are super-traceable, people just think that they're anonymous. As far as law enforcement is concerned, that's an ideal situation.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday February 09, 2018 @12:18PM (#56095413)

    Let's be honest here, crypto-mining seems to be on the way out now that the bubble has deflated. But even if it was still soaring, it's nothing to bet your company's future on.

    nVidia has a competitor. AMD/Radeon. Right now, nVidia is what game makers optimize and tweak their engines for, so nVidia can sell their cards at a premium to gamers, knowing that gamers want their cards rather than buying from the competition, because, well, let's face it, the compatibility is simply higher. Since nVidia cannot deliver enough units to satisfy both demands, miners and gamers alike, one of them will have to look for alternatives.

    If they go for the low hanging fruit and simply crank out mining rigs that will probably still sell like hotcakes (and you can make a pretty penny with it right now because miners can easily afford turning the profits they make back into mining systems, that system keeps itself running), gamers will not be able to buy an nVidia card, even though they would want one, and will look for alternatives. And at some point, it will actually make sense for studios to stop optimizing for nVidia and start looking at how to tweak their games for AMD because now suddenly the majority of their customers, i.e. gamers, is using AMD hardware.

    This would be devastating for nVidia. And pretty much the very LAST thing they could possibly want.

    Because at some point, mining is saturated. We probably have already reached that point, but I don't want to discuss whether BTC will rise again or whether it's plummeting back to penny stock quality, because it does not matter. What matters is that it's a risk. It may work out, it may not.

    Gamers have been here, are here and will be here. And they needed, need and will need fast GPUs. Yes, they need fewer GPUs than the miners do. But if you can't satisfy the market demand anyway, why risk anything?

    • True, but people also use AMD for cryptocurrency.

      • NVidia should hire some people to contribute patches that optimize mining on AMD hardware.

      • right now neither AMD or nVidia want to ramp up production to meet demand because they don't think demand will last. Worse, they're getting ready for a huge drop in demand when the bottom drops out of the crypto currency market and those miners dump their cards on eBay. Current gen graphics cards are much, much better built so a lot of those cards will hold up fine, making a card from an old mining rig practical in ways it wasn't 5 years ago.

        The question is are Crypto-currencies here to stay? If either
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Except Radeon cards are sold out too. They are the preferred brand and miners shifted to Nvidia only after Radeons were difficult to get. None of mid-range or high end GPUs from either AMD or Nvdiia that were made within 5 years are available. New or used, both are gone from sellers. And any cards that pop up are selling twice for their MSRP.

    • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Friday February 09, 2018 @01:23PM (#56095793)

      My dad was a sales person. He always told me "The easiest sale is the firsat one. You will always be able to close the first sale. You can lie and cheat how much you like. You can drop the price to 0. You will be able to make the first sale.The hard ones are the sones after that. To make that easier, you have to build a relation. That is the hard part of sales."

      nVidia seem to focus on the second (and later) sales to their customers, something they are not sure about with mining. I am sure they would LOVE to get rid of that mining business if it would be possible without hurting the rest. They probably already looking at how they can have fast gaming and slow mining GPUs.

      As far as I understand, AI (used in e.g. recognition in self driving cars) also benefit from GPU. So I could see it being a separate type of business where you have GPU without the graphic output being specially made for things where GPU is abused. And this at much lower prices than what we have now available when you look at the price for the speed you get.

      • Self driving cars have no AIs.
        And their pattern recognition algorithms run on 2 200MHz ARM Cortex'.
        You don't need a GPU to analyze a 2 Dimensional gray scale picture with 800x600 pixels.

    • Nope. Cryptocurrency is here to stay. The price has gone up over $300 in the past few hours and is already past $8000 again.

      Citation https://www.coindesk.com/price... [coindesk.com]

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Because once it goes back up a bit, it will never drop again. Nothing bad could ever happen in the future like a complete crash of the market.

  • Don't most of the major players in Web Services have Nvidia GPU farms [nvidia.com] for processing? I'd think they would be putting most of their focus there.
  • 41% increase, and they're telling them no, keep your money? Seems like a bad idea. If I was a nvidia investor I would want to hear nvidia kissing miner butt for making nvidia so rich because surprise, mining isn't disappearing overnight. It might decrease, but cryptocurrancy is here to stay.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I, for one, and incredibly happy to see a company make decisions NOT motivated entirely by short-term gains. Even if cryptocurrency were the future (which is debatable), it's refreshing to see a company decide to keep to their core market and not branch out into the first new thing that makes money.

      That said, I think you have a sever misunderstanding of how GPU's fit into concurrency mining. Even if mining isn't disappearing overnight (which is debatable, unless you know something that millions of other i

    • If you can't trend it then you can't forecast production based upon it. They're being sensible about planning their future capacity rather than ending up in a lurch with a bunch of unsold product once the crypto bubble pops.
    • ... surprise, mining isn't disappearing overnight. It might decrease, but cryptocurrancy is here to stay.

      Do we have any reason to think this? Right now, cryptocurrency isn't really currency-- most cryptocurrency use is done an investment, which is to say, a gamble that the price is going up.

      Will it ever become a currency (which would require stable value. Rising prices for a currency would be deflation, which is bad for currency.)? The answer to this is very unclear.

    • AMD is hitting crypto hard (CPU, GPU, and drivers-wise) and by all indications AMD gear will be the dominant gear in the near future. nVidia is saving face here, while placating their traditional customers.

      "We model crypto approximately flat,"

      So, they're saying they know better the economic forecast in this space than mos of the markets.

  • If nVidia really wanted to do something about this, couldn't they just release a line of gaming cards that only supports the popular gaming API's (OpenGL, Direc3D, Vulkan) and not CUDA and OpenCL, or do games make use of CUDA and OpenCL nowadays for other things like physics processing offloading?
    • by Hydrian ( 183536 )

      That'd hurt both GPU companies. OpenCL and CUDA are used by both education, science, and big compute industries. That math is is very similar to the same that crypto-currencies use. The sword cuts both ways.

    • Well, you could use Vulkan to do all things computing, and even OpenGL, that's how the whole GPGPU idea started. In the long run Vulkan might be more efficient than Cuda/OpenCL as it gives more low-level control. Of course people are not switching overnight, and the old interfaces are generally maintained as they make sense for those specific needs.

      Frankly, the article sounds like Nvidia wants to sell locked-down game consoles instead of general-purpose computers. I guess they don't want any customers wh

  • Should they care? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Espectr0 ( 577637 ) on Friday February 09, 2018 @01:10PM (#56095721) Journal

    This is just public speaking to make them look good. In reality, they don't care who is buying their products as long as they get sold. In fact i would say they like crypto miners even more since they will tend to fry their hardware from extended use and they get an additional sale.

    • Yes, they should care. This is them saying 'Yeah, we had a great year last year thanks to these idiots that think that 'doing math' somehow translates into physical weath, but this bubble gonna pop, and then we're back to selling to video game nerds. So, enjoy the bonus sales while they last, but don't bank on them, or be surprised when they go away real sudden and real fast.'
      • so? they will continue to sell them. have you seen nvidia actually advertise something "good for mining" or similar? no you haven't. and why should they? wasted money, they are selling like hotcakes.

        Now, pc gaming being in decline for so long, could use a boost, and selling video cards at $900 won't do, especially when buying a complete console is only $200.

        they don't care who buys their product. they are a company, profit is their only objective.

    • Yes we should care that a company is not trying to exploit short term profits at the cost of it's investors. They could easily predict huge growth because of mining, but they are saying it probably won't last. They are setting clear expectations that they are making more money now, but long term they will need to keep to their core for growth and continued business. With all the companies out there spewing random shit, this is actually refreshing to see a company speaking some sense.
      • they are not exploiting anything. they are making their product, that despite being originally designed for a specific function (gaming) is good for another (mining)

        this is just empty words, because they don't change anything.

  • It would seem cryptos do just fine when people are dismissive towards them.

  • Can they design a card that's good for 3D graphics, but sucks for mining, so that people will be able to buy cards for gaming again? Stupid miners are running up the cost of GPUs because they haven't done the math that says it will take over a year to amortize the cost of the hardware, even if your electricity is free.
    • by Khyber ( 864651 )

      It's not the card, it's the driver support.

      Also, easier to make a harder algorithm.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Lock the gpu BIOS. With no ability to push in an new mining BIOS that card is great for computer games as sold.
  • by sremick ( 91371 )

    I considered building a VR rig but no way in hell when GTX1080s are over $1200. Makes me wish I had snatched a bunch late last year when I could get them on sale for $400

  • A good chunk of nVidia hardware is used in machine learning and computer vision.

    Guess who has cornered the markets for self-driving car computing, image classification algorithm hardware, or GPGPU?

    It's the company with a stable and high--performance Linux driver (and it's been that way for over a decade).

  • AMD cards initially were more efficient at Cryptocurrencies because they're more general purpose in that you can do more things with them. Eventually when the AMD cards ran out, they went after the next most efficient to use use cards which are the Nvidia cards. It would be silly for either AMD or Nvidia to dedicate resources to making cards more attractive because let's face it, they both sold out of everything they have. Why make your product more attractive when you can't even keep it in stock? AMD r

  • If they are going to dedicate themselves to gaming then bring the price of the video cards back down to the prices in 2016 before all this started. I bought a high-end video card for my machine in late 2016 for $375 US and that was outrageous, that same card is now $1295 OMG!!! I need to buy another card for my other gaming computer but there is NO WAY I am paying $1295 and lesser cards are $800. There are some deals on older cards for $650. If they are not "catering to mining" they sure are making the mone
  • I soon will need an upgraded videocard for ML. In fact, I would like two or three really good ones. The timing is about perfect as in the coming months cryptominers are going to be flooding the market with them as they try to pay their rent.

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard

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