'The Merge' to end cryptocurrency mining on gaming GPUs won't come until 2022

GPU for Mining Ethereum
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Turns out it may still be some time before the bane of cryptocurrency mining releases its grip on our precious gaming GPU stock. But a definite shift is on the way. A big change is coming from Ethereum, in the form of something called 'The Merge.'

Since May, we've been waiting for Ethereum to shift consensus mechanisms from the energy intensive, GPU hogging proof-of-work model, to a lighter, non-computationally intensive proof-of-stake model. Back then we were promised it would only be a matter of months, but with no such shift having taken place, gaming GPUs are still in high demand for miners. 

The current model means that without a trusty graphics card chugging away in the background of every Ethereum interaction, new Ether cannot be generated, and transactions cannot continue to shift. That puts us gamers in an awkward position, particularly those dreaming of bagging a graphics card this holiday season. But with The Merge on the way, all that is about to change.

It sounds like some transcendental event involving the molding of the world's inhabitants into some kind of crypto-hailing singularity, but actually it's just a vital part of Ethereum's roadmap.

A notice confirming a Q1/Q2 2022 release of the merge

(Image credit: Ethereum)

Also known as 'The Docking,' which plays into Ethereum's space ship metaphor, it forms a segment of the cryptocurrency's next stage of evolution into Eth2. An evolution which, as the Ethereum site explains, "refers to a set of interconnected upgrades that will make Ethereum more scalable, more secure, and more sustainable."

What it actually means is that Ethereum's Mainnet system will come together with its Beacon Chain, referred to as "a new engine and a hardened hull," in order to form "one ship, ready to put in some serious lightyears and take on the universe."

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The Nvidia RTX 3070 and AMD RX 6700 XT side by side on a colourful background

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Currently there are only a few cryptocurrencies around the world that utilise a proof-of-stake model. Cardano, Tezos, and Algorand are among them, and with Ethereum looking to make the move before mid 2022 rolls around, we could be looking at a massive relief on the GPU stock strain.

Until then, I guess we'll have to deal with a the continual lack of GPUs. At least it's a step in the right direction for the second largest cryptocurrency in the world. Still, all these spacecraft metaphors have me a little worried about where they're going with all this—Ethereum-powered space stations sounds like a future I'm not sure I want to be a part of.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for three years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.