The price of ethereum rises by over 48% but miners are still selling their GPUs. Here's why

An ethereum sun rises over the RTX 3080 Ti
(Image credit: vovik_mar)

In the last week alone, the price of Ethereum has risen by over 29%, and in the last month has gone up more than 48% from its low $994 on June 20 this year. For everyone super-excited about the collapse of cryptocurrencies, specifically those that have held modern graphics cards hostage for the past two years, that's got to be a concern.

But actually it's possibly not worth getting too worried about the supposed thawing of this crypto winter. There's a good chance that the price of ethereum has been rising to such an extent precisely because it will soon not need those GPUs to function as a digital currency. And by soon we're talking about potentially September 19, 2022.

Even though the price has been spiking recently, the number of miners punishing their graphics cards with the ETH algorithm hasn't gone up at the same level. in fact the global ethereum hash rate has effectively stabalised post crash. So yeah, they're still listing their cards on ebay. Or their local equivalent.

The Ethereum Foundation has gone public with an actual proposed date for the ethereum network to turn off the graphics card mines. This is the point where it will switch to a proof of stake (PoS) consensus model as opposed to the current proof of work (PoW) model which demands the use of GPUs to secure the blockchain. This is the same energy-sapping mechanism that bitcoin needs to function, and together the two cryptocurrencies are responsible for carbon emissions of more than 150MT/yr.

Or, the same carbon emissions as a modern, medium-sized country.

The Merge's date was proposed on a consensus developers call, where Ethereum Foundation's Tim Beiko put forward a planning timeline which culminates in a final merge on September 19 after the testing networks have been thoroughly tested and signed off.

It's been a long time coming, and despite there now being a specific date, that could still all change. "Please treat this target with appropriate caution," says Ben Edgington in his 'What's new in Eth2' post about the new timeline.

Coinbase graph for Ethereum price

(Image credit: Coinbase)

What is the suggested timeline for Ethereum's PoS merge?

  • Goerli/Prater client releases 27th or 28th of July.
  • Announce 28th/29th.
  • Prater Bellatrix on the 8th of August
  • Goerli Merge on the 11th.
  • ACD 18th August plan mainnet Merge:
    - Bellatrix early september;
    - Merge two weeks later (week of Sept 19th).

The PoS consensus requires validators, not miners. With each validator staking 32 Eth with the ethereum network for the chance to write blocks of transactions to the blockchain, with rewards for issuing each block.

This shift will cut the energy demands and carbon emissions by 99.95%, according to the Ethereum Foundation, which will immediately negate at least some of the criticism people have about the second largest cryptocurrency. I mean, the merge will effectively remove the biggest issues us PC gamers have with ethereum given that any further price increases won't encourage more mining and we can still expect future GPU releases to go into the hands of gamers.

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Well, so long as ethereum classic doesn't keep rising, that is. That's a cryptocurrency based on the old-school ethereum model and is therefore all about hoarding GPUs and expending offensive levels of energy for an intangible reward. 

Like ethereum, ethereum classic has seen its own price rise, growing by 66% in the last month and 51% in the past week alone. They're all still linked to the health of bitcoin as the market leader, and despite the recent price crash it has rallied by nearly 15% in the last month.

So, maybe the whole crypto winter is over, or maybe we're just waiting for an even bigger crypto crash. As ever with cryptocurrencies, who knows? It's all gambling on snake oil after all.

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.