The blockchain bonanza is over for graphics card makers

Enlarge / A Philadelphia cryptocurrency miner snapped this shot of his rig for us earlier this year.Matthew Freilich

For almost a year, cryptocurrency miners have snapped up all the graphics cards they could get their hands on. That was a financial windfall for Nvidia and AMD, the leading makers of consumer graphics cards. Both reported soaring profits their last two quarters.

But on Thursday, Nvidia reported its financial results for its second fiscal quarter, which ended on July 29. The results were pretty good overall, with strong demands for Nvidia products for AI and data center applications. However, cryptocurrency-related demand has cratered.

“Our revenue outlook had anticipated cryptocurrency-specific products declining to approximately £100 million,” said Nvidia CFO Colette Kress. “Actual crypto-specific product revenue was £18 million.” The company isn’t counting on any more cryptocurrency-related sales in the future, either. “We now expect a negligible contribution going forward,” Kress added. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang echoed that sentiment. “We’re projecting no crypto mining going forward,” he said.

The story was similar for AMD, which reported its financial results last month. The company reported strong financial results overall, but its “computing and graphics” division saw sales decline three percent from the preceding quarter, driven by “lower revenue from GPU products in the blockchain market.” The reason for this is clear: cryptocurrency prices are in decline.

Bitcoin mining has long been dominated by specialized ASIC chips, so the most popular cryptocurrency mined with GPUs is ether, the cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network. Ether’s value has fallen from a high around £1,400 in January to around £300 today–a decline of almost 80 percent. Litecoin has fallen from £320 in January to around £60 today, a decline of more than 80 percent.

The prices of high-end Nvidia and AMD graphics cards have declined over the same period. Nvidia’s GeForce 1080 could fetch more than £800 in January. Today, you should be able to find one for less than £600.

All of this means that after a year of shortages, gamers should finally be able to buy graphics cards for reasonable prices.

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