A new Ether ASIC mining rig is on the way, but can it support Nvidia’s GPU problems?
On April 16, cryptocurrency mining rig maker Bitmain revealed the upcoming release of a new Ether (ETH) miner. The Antminer E9 model is an application-specific integrated circuit chip that will run the Ethereum blockchain’s Ethash algorithm.
While no final release date for the E9 has been set, the machine’s launch may not be as significant as initially expected. The rig will be up against Nvidia’s CMP (Cryptocurrency Mining Processor) series of GPUs, which are developed specifically for crypto mining. Meanwhile, Ethereum’s planned transition from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake consensus could mean the E9’s usefulness is limited.
Nvidia recently reported that its CMP range was able to generate $150 million in earnings in the first quarter of the year, which was three times what the company had predicted.
About the obvious brisk success of its crypto-specific graphics cards, Nvidia chief financial officer Colette Kress said on an investors call this week that the firm anticipated its GPU shortage to last the remainder of the year, despite increased availability.
“We expect demand to continue to exceed supply for much of this year […] We will see supply continue to increase throughout this quarter as well as throughout the year,” Kress said, as reported by The Verge.
For some time, Nvidia has failed to satisfy demand for GPUs from its main gaming user base, while would-be miners snatched up cards to mine Ether and other cryptocurrencies. The problem of Nvidia’s supply shortage first surfaced in late 2017, when the year’s bull run drew more people into crypto mining. After a brief respite in the intervening years, the GPU shortage resurfaced in 2020 and showed no signs of abating.
On April 15, Nvidia also announced the release of a new anti-crypto mining version of the RTX 3060. As part of its attempts to differentiate gaming and mining demand, the company released the RTX 3060 graphics card earlier this year with a built-in limiter that rendered it less than half as successful while mining cryptocurrencies.
Within days, it was rumoured that hackers had circumvented the mining limiter, and then a few days later, Nvidia shot itself in the foot by announcing an official driver update that accidentally disabled the limiter by itself.
The new version of the RTX 3060 will reportedly retain the same name and branding, but will see the faulty driver replaced completely, reports TechRadar.
Though Bitmain’s introduction of the E9 may seem to be a little late in light of Ethereum’s imminent transition to proof-of-stake in the next year or so, the limited time left to mine ETH may also result in a sharp demand increase as miners attempt to accumulate as much ETH as possible before the switchover.
We asked Nvidia if it expected the E9 to help alleviate its GPU shortage by diverting demand, or if it saw the rig as competition for its CMP range. If Nvidia responds, this post will be revised.