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Nvidia Ampere cards dedicated to cryptomining

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While the supply of GPUs is still insufficient, Nvidia is debating whether to provide graphics cards as a priority for gamers or cryptocurrency miners. Nvidia's latest generation of graphics cards, the RTX 3000, is a victim of its own success and hard to find from distributors. If you've heard that Nvidia might make Ampere graphics cards just for cryptocurrency miners, don't get carried away. Admittedly, while GPU procurement is trickling down, Nvidia is wondering about its priorities.

Colette Kress, chief financial officer of Nvidia has acknowledged that the chip designer could, at least in theory, manufacture GPU-based accelerator cards specifically for crypto-miners. "If the demand for specific cards for cryptocurrency mining starts or becomes significant, we could take this opportunity to relaunch our product line to meet this specific demand," said last Tuesday, Ms. Kress in a conversation with analysts at the JP Morgan Tech / Auto Forum, transcribed by Seekingalpha.com. “But, because Nvidia doesn't know how many cards cryptocurrency miners might order, the supply remains focused on a market where demand is strong, namely the gamer market,” she said. “The demand in the gaming sector is very strong, and it alone exceeds our current supply capacity,” she added.

Nvidia cares about gamers

Gamers who can't get the graphics card they want at an affordable price might not be what gamers think, yet Nvidia cares about gamers. “This time, the situation is very different from what happened a few years ago, for several reasons,” said Colette Kress. The period that Ms. Kress is arguably referring to is around four years ago, when cryptocurrency miners snapped up every Nvidia GPU they could find on the market. Their insatiable demand had emptied store shelves and driven up prices, to the despair of ordinary gamers who just wanted cards to run games on their PCs.

Ms Kress claimed that Nvidia knew full well where their cards were going, and even who was buying them. “Our stocks are very low today,” added Ms. Kress. "But we have better visibility on the quantities available, and we periodically and regularly monitor these volumes to make sure that we know where in the world these stocks are." She believes the supply problem could ease as Nvidia expands its capacity. “We are starting a product life cycle based on the Ampere architecture. We have a long way to go. You may remember, the last time we were moving from Pascal to Turing, which made it difficult to manage both channel inventory and the end of that product cycle. ”

“Even if Nvidia decided to make cards specifically for cryptocurrency miners, that wouldn't necessarily mean that players would have difficulty sourcing,” said Anton Shilov of Tom's Hardware. The latter points out that crypto-mining is done with so-called "Headless" cards without HDMI or D-Port output, which do not send video information to a screen.

Since miners only care about computational performance, not graphics performance, Nvidia could sell cards to miners with faulty texture units or bad video encoders, products normally destined to be destroyed. It's a good idea, but some crypto-mining operations rely on reselling GPUs after the job is done.a

Still insufficient production

During the interview, Ms. Kress said the demand for Series 30 cards was "out of the ordinary". “The supply of new GPUs will probably remain very limited for the next two months,” warned Colette Kress, as demand continues to exceed supply. "But, again, we remain vigilant on this point and work every day to improve our overall supply situation," she said.

This revealed that around 10% of GeForce GPU owners now own an RTX card, and most of them are switching from 10-series Pascal cards to RTX cards. If we assume that there are around 200 million owners of GeForce GPUs, we can conclude that around 20 million have made the leap to hardware ray-tracing.

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