It looks like Nvidia has found at least one buyer for its recently announced Cryptocurrency Mining Processor (CMP) graphics cards (opens in new tab). An order worth $30 million has been placed with the graphics card maker for an unconfirmed quantity of mining GPUs, which are said to deliver 1,600GH/s in extra mining oomph for their new owner.
The order was placed by Hut 8 Mining Corp., Tom's Hardware reports (opens in new tab), who is a large crypto mining company that focuses on the top coin of today, Bitcoin. Business is evidently booming. Although perhaps Bitcoin's recent $60,000 valuation made that clear enough.
The exact mix of GPUs that Hut 8 has ordered is unknown, but it has just four to choose from: the CMP 30HX, 40HX, 50HX, and 90HX. Those numbers roughly match the hash rates on offer with these cards, and while the GPUs in each one has not been revealed—it's all very hush hush all-round—it's suspected that only the 90HX is of the latest Ampere generation.
Hut 8 says the new GPUs will be used primarily with alternative blockchain networks.
Whatever the specification, too, $30 million is sure to buy a lot of them. While Nvidia hasn't named a price per card publicly, some back of the napkin maths would suggest that's roughly 18,600 of the top CMP chip, or over 35,000 of the purported Turing chip, to hit 1,600GH/s. At least by Nvidia's rated speeds (opens in new tab). That works out at over $1,600 per card if it were just the 90HX alone, which seems steep, but I suppose where else are you supposed to buy graphics cards by the tens of thousands right now?
Nvidia holds all the cards (pun intended).
Hut 8 will not utilise these GPUs for Bitcoin mining, however. Bitcoin has long been dominated by ASICs, or Application Specific Integrated Circuits, which are now capable of hash rates upwards of 100TH/s. GPUs instead are useful for ASIC-resistant networks, such as Ethereum, and manage anything from a couple MH/s to 100MH/s.
“We are incredibly excited to have these high performance CMPs in our fleet," says Jaime Leverton, CEO of Hut 8. "We believe mining with CMPs will open up new opportunities for Hut 8 and will allow us to continue to execute on our long- and short-term plans for increased and diversified revenue streams.”
It's said the order will begin to be fulfilled through May 2021, and "completed this summer."
Purpose-built mining GPUs aren't always seen as desirable by cryptocurrency miners, however, as these cards don't feature any outputs, and therefore have very little resale value beyond other mining operations. In the event of a value crash that could spell doom for small-time miners. Perhaps that's less of a concern for a company willing to spend $30 million on "new opportunities".
I'm sure most don't need a reminder of the impact that the high profitability of cryptocurrencies has had on the graphics card market. It's certainly not the sole reason for the recent shortages in PC gaming hardware, but it has most definitely exacerbated the issue.