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Cryptocurrency miners spent $776M on millions of GPUs last year

The rise of cryptocurrency mining has led to a GPU shortage impacting scientific research other industries.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
    • Miners of cryptocurrency bought some 3 million GPUs in 2017, spending a total of $776 million. — Jon Peddie Research, 2018
    • The shortage of GPUs brought about by cryptocurrency mining has impacted scientific research, PC gaming, and more.

      Cryptocurrency miners bought some 3 million GPUs in 2017, totaling $776 million, according to a recent report from Jon Peddie Research (JPR). Miners use the parallel processing power of GPUs to collect currencies like Bitcoin, Monero, Ethereum, and more.

      While the sales are good news for GPU manufacturers, they're impacting other industries in negative ways. The rise of cryptocurrency mining led to GPU shortages that have impacted PC gaming, graphic designers, and even researchers looking for alien life. The shortage has caused secondhand prices to skyrocket, rising by hundreds of dollars in many cases.

      Interestingly enough, JPR noted, GPU shipments were actually down in the fourth quarter, and year-over-year as well.

      SEE: IT leader's guide to the blockchain (Tech Pro Research)

      "Year-to-year total GPU shipments decreased -4.8%, desktop graphics decreased -2%, notebooks decreased -7%. Over 363 graphics units shipped in 2017," the JPR report said.

      The fourth quarter is usually flat, or slightly up, the report said. But 2017's final quarter was down. And while the year-over-year number is an average, discrete desktop graphics units actually increased 9.7% in 2017.

      AMD was the big winner in 2017, increasing its market share by 8.1%, according to JPR's report. Other leaders weren't so lucky—Nvidia decreased -6%, and Intel decreased -2%.

      While cryptocurrency miners are causing problems now, they're still not the core audience for these units.

      "Gaming has been and will continue to be the primary driver for GPU sales, augmented by the demand from cryptocurrency miners," JPR president Jon Peddie said in the report. "We expect demand to slacken from the miners as margins drop in response increasingly utilities costs and supply and demand forces that drive up AIB prices. Gamers can offset those costs by mining when not gaming, but prices will not drop in the near future."

      Peddie is right, as cryptocurrency markets have been volatile as of late, and many of those still mining are moving onto other options like ASIC chips. Still, the GPU shortage is a reality as of now, and it's unclear when it will let up.

      Also see

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      Image: NVIDIA

      About Conner Forrest

      Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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