One day, you’ll have the chance to look a young person in the eye and tell them that you lived through the GPU drought of 2017. And that young person will turn up the volume on their brain-implanted computer and ignore you. But forget about Generation Omega or whatever we’ll call them — now is a time to celebrate that cult-like speculators are no longer buying every GPU on the market to mine for digital coins.
Demand for GPUs fell last quarter, according to graphics-industry tracking firm Jon Peddie Research. As a whole, GPU shipments from manufacturers dropped 1.5 percent from the first quarter of 2018 to the second quarter. Throughout 2017 and early 2018, people are using Nvidia and AMD GPUs to do the processing required to create new cryptocurrencies similar to Bitcoin. But the crypto market has fallen, and that has made it GPU mining too inefficient to make money.
Of course, AMD and Nvidia were the hardest hit. Quarter-over-quarter, AMD’s shipments dropped 12.3 percent, and Nvidia’s decreased 7 percent. Intel, which make integrated graphics for its CPUs, saw an increase of 3 percent. And year-over-year, GPU shipments dropped 4.9 percent.
But this isn’t a recession for computer graphics. It’s just a return to sanity.
“The PC market is showing more stabilization, and now seems to have shaken off the gold rush fever of cryptomining,” reads the Jon Peddie report. “Overall, volume slipped, albeit with bright spots for the market here and there. But we can mark the first quarter of 2018 as the peak and last hurrah of the cryptomining fever. Desktop GPUs, which went into mining rigs, have dropped back to their normal volume.”
The report also claims that the desktop graphics “add-in boards” (AIBs) have also come to an end after dropping 27.96 percent quarter-over-quarter. Cryptominers would use AIBs to get the most mining out of one machine, but Jon Peddie Research doesn’t think it will ever mention them again.
Now that we live in a normal GPU market again, you should have no trouble going to the store or online to buy a 10-series GTX GPU from Nvidia or AMD’s Radeon or Vega cards. Those were all difficult to find throughout 2017, but now they are in plentiful supply. Of course, that comes as Nvidia has announced its new RTX cards, so we’ll see if prices drop to clear out last-gen inventory.
So does this mean that cryptomining is behind us for good? Possibly, but probably not. The RTX cards might not represent enough of a leap forward that they will kick off another craze, but who knows when the next digital coin will come along and change everything.
Let’s hope never.