NVIDIA REALLY DOESN'T want people to use its latest graphics cards to mine cryptocurrencies, going so far to tell retailers not to sell to digital miners.
Tapping into the parallel processing chops of graphics processing units (GPUs) to crunch big volumes of calculations to create or 'mine' digital currency like Bitcoin is how enterprising types are trying to make money out of the rising world of cryptocurrency.
But Nvidia is concerned that miners snapping up its powerful but consumer-grade graphics cards are hiking the prices up for people who want a GPU for pixel-pushing gaming, you know, the way it was meant to be used.
German tech site ComputerBase reported that Nvidia is asking retailers to limit the number of its graphics cards that can be sold to non-gamer-types.
"For Nvidia, gamers come first. All activities related to our GeForce product line are focused on our main audience. To ensure that GeForce gamers continue to have good GeForce graphics card availability in the current situation, we recommend that our trading partners make the appropriate arrangements to meet gamers' needs as usual," Nvidia said in a statement we had Google translate from German.
Nvidia is merely asking, not forcing retailers to take such measures, but the company certainly seems concerned that its GPU prices could be inflated by money-seeking cryptocurrency miners.
A Reddit thread discussing the topic lays blame at people and organisations going to wholesalers and buying Nvidia GPUs in bulk to support their mining operations, thereby limiting supply to retailers and pushing the prices of GeForce cards up.
"The problem isn't even really at the retail level, its the massive warehouse mining operations buying up all the supply at the wholesale level before it's even offered at retail," suggested poster 'Gargantuace'.
Doing a bit of our own digging into online retailers like Overclockers.co.uk and Amazon's UK site, we didn't notice any Nvidia GPUs going for extortionate prices, but there were notable differences between some retailers.
For example, Overclockers has Asus' take on the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti priced at £929, a few quid more than on Asus' own online store. But on Scan.co.uk, that price is down to £899, and eBuyer has the graphics card for £839.
Whether these prices are down to retail standard competition or are being influenced by cryptocurrency miners is difficult to tell. But we did notice that the more powerful Nvidia cards seemed limited in stock, and Overclockers didn't have the option to buy multiple GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 cards at once.
You may wonder why Nvidia cares about who its graphics cards go to given that it's shifting them all the same. But Nvidia's gaming tech also expands into monitors in the form of G-Sync, which is reliant on GeForce GPUs, so for it to keep AMD with its FreeSync tech at bay, Nvidia needs to keep selling to gamers.
And gaming is still a big business for Nvidia, even with all its other work like creating supercomputers in compact sizes. So it looks like it wants to ensure its GPUs get to gamers at fair prices, helping discourage them from looking too closely at what AMD's Radeon range has to offer. µ
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