Cryptocurrency miners are the heroes gamers don't want but AMD need | PCGamesN

Cryptocurrency miners are the heroes gamers don't want but AMD need

Genesis Mining AMD GPUs

You’re probably just as sick of this whole cryptocurrency mining thing as the rest of us PC gamers. The latest crypto gold rush has seen prices spiralling out of control for new and second-hand graphics cards, and has made it all but impossible to buy a decent AMD GPU, whether that be old Polaris or new Vega.

If you’ve managed to find a new graphics card you’ll want a one of the best gaming monitors to show it off.

And it shows no sign of letting up, with huge back orders still in place for everything team Radeon and their partners can produce. So yeah, if you’re excitedly clicking that ‘pre-order’ button on your favourite etailer, because the current price almost looks enticing, the chances are that you’re quite far down the line.

We’re talking hundreds of thousands down the line, in global terms.

That’s because the professional cryptocurrency mining outfits are swallowing up as much of the GPU manufacturers’ inventories as they can. They’re buying up thousands of cards at a time, so even the ‘small fry’ who want a couple hundred are being put to the back of the queue.

Genesis Mining GPUs

Companies such as Genesis Mining are regularly setting up new mining farms as interest grows and the endeavour increasingly shifts away from the sort of thing you can set up with a weird motherboard and a bunch of cards in your garage. 

Right now they’ve got three facilities in Iceland - one designed for Ethereum, one for Bitcoin, and a GPU-specific facility for the cryptocurrencies using the X11 algorithm. This is where all our gaming graphics cards have gone. Genesis will do all the mining for you. You just set up an account, invest in whichever cryptocurrency mining platform you want, and pay for a fixed two years of constant mining.

Simple, eh? Prospective prospectors in this modern gold rush don’t have to go through the hassle of researching and setting up a homebrew rig themselves, they only have to pay for the cheapest of electricity (hence the Iceland setup) and can effectively just sit back and watch the cryptocash roll in.

That’s why they’re growing and that’s why pretty much every AMD graphics card on the planet is being swallowed up by this sort of professional mining company.

Lucky ol’ AMD, eh? And if our sources are correct they’ve been very lucky indeed because things weren’t looking too rosy before the GPU market went crypto-obsessive. Despite the fact the AMD RX 480 had become our favourite graphics card of the last year, with successive price drops and moderate performance increases, they still weren’t selling in huge numbers.

Before they started getting chewed up by the industrial mining machine there was apparently a lot of stock of both the 400 and 500-series AMD cards sat in the channel going nowhere. If the miners hadn’t come along, bought up all the GPUs that AMD could make, and subsequently massively boosted the red team’s bottom line, who knows what would have happened to the Radeon Technology Group. The lukewarm reception (look at me being all polite) of the AMD RX Vega consumer cards would have been far more damaging to the company if they struggled to shift their new GPUs as well as the existing stock sat in warehouses across the globe.

The great wall of Sapphire

So, really, we ought to be thanking the miners, not berating them for stealing away all the AMD graphics cards being produced right now, otherwise we might have come mighty close to losing the only Nvidia competition there is and that’s good for no-one. With the huge amount of cash being injected into the Radeon coffers here’s hoping that gets ploughed into making the next-gen AMD Navi as good as we hope it’s going to be.

And making sure there’s enough of them so that us gamers, as well as the miners, can get ourselves some shiny new graphics silicon.

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Freakydemon avatarDave James avatarShadowized avatarpeachslices avatar
Freakydemon Avatar
7 Months ago

AMD are still selling their cards at the same price to retailers and distributors as before. If anything these stores are making tons of funbux for doing nothing but controlling the supply. The miners are also a worthless market since you can't build products for them since it's extremely volatile with electricity prices, crypto-currency market values & government regulations changing internationally. The moment these cards do not perform to the profitable hash/W performance they'll be thrown on the second hand market to recoup the investment. AMD gains nothing from these resales. So in the end retailers make money, miners make money and destroy the environment for virtual money no government backs (those mining factories generate massive amounts of heat and the electricity generated in coal plants & others are wasted), AMD sells some cards but they don't have a stable new market to rely on for sales and anyone who just wants a GPU for his PC gets to pay the miner-tax.


Dave James Avatar
7 Months ago

The volatility of the crypto-market is a concern if you're building new devices to serve it, and the problem for the AIBs is that none of this builds any sort of brand loyalty/awareness - the pro-miners just rinse and replace.

But the fact that all of the Radeon cards that were just sat in the channel going nowhere have been sold, and thousands more are being bought up as soon as they're made, means that AMD are getting a lot of ready cash they otherwise wouldn't. Most of the professional mining companies are buying from source so they're not even getting into the retailers or distributors.

You're totally right about it not being a stable market for AMD to rely on, but in a time where stock wasn't shifting they've made some very welcome short-term gains.

Shadowized Avatar
7 Months ago

I think you are definitely onto something in regard to brand awareness, why should developers optimise their games for AMD when AMD has no cards left for gamers? I know the shortages have definitely impacted me and forced me into buying nVidia this generation, well that combined with the fact that Vega was delayed for well over a year due to HBM2 but the point still stands.

peachslices Avatar
7 Months ago

This situation can only be good for gamers as it gives AMD lots of cash to develop better products. Maybe gamers should not complain and get interested in what crypto peeps are doing with the tech. Here's some guides that I used to get started: