Nvidia, an American technology company most notable for their production of gaming computing parts, has had a major shortage of graphics cards across all retailers since last year. The reason for this shortage has been the increasing value and interest of cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin, and the means by which to obtain these cryptocurrencies.
To put it simply, cryptocurrency “miners” need some serious computing power in order to obtain a decent amount of a Bitcoins. High end Nvidia graphics cards come equipped with GPUs, or graphical processing units, which are powerful piece of computing technology. Since miners want to make as much money as possible, they have essentially cleaned out most of the stock of Nvidi graphics cards, and powerful graphics cards in general.
To go deeper into the matter, the most popular cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, is obtained through mining a block of data that contains Bitcoins. Each block contains roughly 12.5 Bitcoins, and each Bitcoins go for about $11,000 at the moment, though prices fluctuate frequently. A single block of data can take thousand of computing hours to completely mine alone, so large communities come together to quickly mine a block of data and disperse the currency. A split is determined on how much data a user mines, and that is determined on how much computing power a user can output. Also, since the computer is outputting so much power in order to maximize mining efficiency, electrical bills do start to add up. If a user’s graphics card is not up to par with other users, then they will receive a minuscule amount of Bitcoins and will actually suffer a net-loss of money. The only way to truly turn a profit is to have a graphics card powerful enough to get the most Bitcoins from a single data block.
Miners have built powerful computer rigs in order to get the most out of their mining, and as a result, the only way to get a powerful graphics card is to purchase one from a third-party seller. Because there is such high demand, however, price gouging is through the roof, with the GTX 1070, one of the most recent graphics cards, jumping from a retail price of $380 to well over $450 last year. Now, the same graphics card will set someone back an astounding $900.
Because of the price gouging and retailer shortages, Nvidia has stepped in to try and remedy this problem. Initially, they limited the sale of graphics cards to two per customer. After a spike in Bitcoin value in December, the shortages got worse. The sale limitation did next to nothing to prevent the shortage from worsening, so now Nvidia is pushing retailers to focus on selling graphics cards to gamers, not miners.
“Gamers come first for Nvidia,” says Boris Böhles, Germany’s Nvidia PR manager. “All activities around our GeForce products are for our core audience. We recommend our trading partners make arrangements to ensure that gamers’ needs are still met in the current climate.”
Hopefully the shortage will end sometime soon in 2018.