That such a giant household brand like AMD would have its fate partly tied to Ethereum few could have foreseen, but their price movements have recently correlated because AMD happens to be producing some of the best mining gear.
Yet what’s currently on offer may soon become worthless because they can process “only” around 27-30 million hashes per second (MH/s).
A new GPU by AMD, Radeon RX Vega 64, may be able to process double or even triple that amount, with rumors suggesting it can run at 70 or even 100 MH/s.
As ethereum mining is somewhat of a zero sum game, to compete with just one Vega current miners may need 4 “older” GPUs, thus potentially quickly sending them out of use.
As such, preparing for high demand, AMD has delayed the release to 14th August so as to ensure there is sufficient supply, but whether gamers will be able to get their hands on it remains unlikely.
However, they might see the positive side. The demand for high processing speed could in short order make even 100 MH/s look very slow as miners keep racing to keep up with the constantly increasing algorithmic difficulty.
But their troubles are nothing compared to some hedge funds which were sent down under by the summer craze. Business Insider reports Carlson Capital saw a loss of 14% after shorting chip-makers, which have soared in stock price following unseen levels of demand that have sent GPUs out of stock.
“Our biggest short theme since the first quarter has been semiconductors where we see high inventories, double ordering, massive capex supply responses and actual pockets of weakening demand in smartphones, autos, and the Chinese optical market.
Nonetheless, the sector has turned into something of a bubble characterized best by the surge in GPU stocks, Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia, driven by a cryptocurrency mania. Bitcoin and Ethereum have fallen sharply over the past month, and we believe they will fall a lot more.
We believe the other side of this incredibly powerful consensus move in technology will be very profitable for us but to date, it has been a significant drag on performance.”
So says their letter to investors in a clear indication that no one can now ignore this space after rising to above $100 billion in combined market cap.
But for AMD, it might be a temporary thing. Soon-ish, ethereum is to upgrade its network so that it doesn’t need miners anymore, but stakers, in one of the biggest protocol change, perhaps in all of cryptocurrencies’ history so far.
They are to move towards Proof of Stake (PoS) where algorithmic calculations are based on the amount of eth one “stakes” rather than on useless math problems. At which point, a normal laptop would be sufficient to secure the network.
That upgrade may take part sometime next year, with progress seemingly slower than many previously estimated as ethereum now might go through two upgrades first.
Starting with the Metropolis Part 1, which may reduce mining issuance and delay the difficulty bomb placed there to make mining extremely difficult so as to in effect force the Proof of Stake upgrade.
That is expected to take part this autumn, but time estimates may change. Afterwards, the second part of Metropolis is to go through, which may be sometime next year. Then is Proof of Stake, which at this rate looks optimistic for 2018.
In the meantime, teenagers may be stuck with the outdoors super-amazing graphics and try such games as football where physical movements are so real you literally sweat. Although we hear AMD may be providing the market with both a gamers version of GPUs and a miners version.