Where’s The GPU’s?

Covid, Mining, Silicon, OH MY! 

The Trifecta, all with a unique hit on the market we all know and love. From manufacturing shut-downs, the crypto-booms, to a global demand that cannot be met, let’s discuss the issues plaguing the tech world and the pockets of the consumer.

It’s a cold, barren morning. You haven’t eaten in days, water is hardly drinkable. You can’t shake the feeling that someone is watching you, while you try and scrape together an hour or two of sleep. Someone screams in the distance, another one bites the dust. 

The machines have won. Apocalypse is now. Everyone is dead, and it’s all because…OF THOSE GOSH DARN CRYPTO MINERS!? 


Clearly a far-fetched future…or is it? With the current market price inflation, lack of product availability, scalpers and ever increasing need for more silicon, it does seem like the end is nigh for the consumer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon.

Let’s take a deep dive on some of the realities affecting the tech world, and how and when we can ever see some sweet relief. Want to upgrade or build a PC? Buy a 5th Gen Console? Or even purchase a new car? These are some of the many factors that are crippling the market:

Events:

– Covid-19  

– Cryptocurrency Boom 

– Next Gen Console/CPU/GPU Wars 

– Silicon Shortage 

This may seem like a relatively short list, but when you dig deep into how each of these actually affected the market, you start to realize the intricacies and dependencies each has had on one another, thus creating a conglomeration (big word!) of issues that all hammered the end product.  

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Sold Price vs MSRP
Actual Shipments of Cards over the years. NO large influx during 2020

Covid: 

I wont detail this as much as the others, particularly because of the over-saturation the average audience has had with the virus and the broader toll it has taken on society. But shutting down the economy of the two largest producers of technology in the world (China and the US), along with imports, exports, drivers, manufacturers, warehouses, etc…you see the point. Sprinkle in millions working from home, upgrading their systems to allow for better efficiency, along with more time to game because of unemployment rates. From beginning to it’s current state, Covid has destroyed too many things to list. The domino effect it has had in the industry will be felt for years to come. 

Crypto: 

Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, Alt-Coins, Mining; it all hit a huge spike over the past year, with prices doubling record highs of some of the most well-known coins. Blockchains are another discussion for another day, but the hype of making easy money over short periods, compared to the longer, more stable but less profitable stock market, tempted too many. The Crypto market is a microcosm of the world’s economy, with 24/7 trading, huge spikes, giant crashes, and everything in between; it can be considered a 20+ year stock chart condensed into 3-4 years. This tempts the impatient, the greedy, and the day-trading economist all in one, producing booms and crashes that have caught the attention of the tech community for one thing: mining. 

Mining crypto in it’s simplest explanation is to collect a bunch of high-end, high VRAM Graphics Cards, Frankenstein the pieces together to a large PSU, a jerry rigged MOBO and Tower, throw some fans on it, and run a 24/7 program that runs coded algorithms to “mine” coins for a given cryptocurrency. The better the Graphics Card, the higher the “Hash Rate”, or money the setup can produce over a given time period. Many see this is free money, with the only cost being upfront purchase of a mining rig, power consumption of product, and whatever little upkeep is necessary, minus the burn out of the Cards because of the constant high-output use with improper cooling.  

This sounds enticing, yes? If you have the upfront costs covered, an extra room in the house to throw the rigs, and a good power company, you are basically printing money!…Right? Well yes, and no. Generally you have the have a very LARGE mining configuration to produce anything more than some nice little bonus cash at the end of the month. And those profits only are seen with well-coded, custom software designed to maximize the profit of the given coin you are mining. Using a NiceHash software which is “free” to the consumer, easy to run and manage, cuts into profits and generally has a strict set of guidelines of what and how you can mine. Other software is similar, but for the most part, mining Ethereum is the go-to and when the coin is not “booming” like it was early this year, the profits are wasted even more. 

Now that you understand all of that (I’m kidding, nobody understands any of that), you now must understand the next issue this creates: Scalping. Scalping is when someone who has the means and/or software to purchase large amounts of these Graphics Cards and other parts needed for the mining craze, and on release of said product, they buy up as much inventory as possible, creating a supply shortage for something that is in high demand. These scalpers then jack up the prices, and resale the items on 3rd party sites such as Facebook marketplace, EBay, Amazon, Walmart, and even Newegg, the very site they came from originally. This creates a price per performance scale that is grossly overweighed, with average to above average cards selling for top dollar GPU prices. A GTX 1080 (4-5 year old technology) I purchased back in February at the beginning of the shortage went for 250$ on Marketplace, but now cannot be found for under $500. This is basically the story for all other cards, a doubling of the MSRP.  

So what do people do when they see a card for sale for even a remotely considerate price, or in stock at Best Buy? They buy and resale, because the profit is too easy to ignore. It’s a vicious cycle of supply and demand, and with the Crypto market finally stumbling, the supply and demand is hopefully going to correct itself soon. But not without the next issue… 

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VERY large mining rig.

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The rise of prices on common mining coin Ethereum

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The rise and fall of Bitcoin this year

Console/GPU/CPU Wars:  

I will keep this one relatively short because unless you live under a rock, you know that the PS5 and XBox Series X/S released Q4 2020 along with the release of the newest line of RTX 3000 series cards followed shortly by the AMD 6000 series cards. The demand for these, as anticipated, was high because of the holiday season and promises of high framerates, ray-tracing, new games, etc. But the market could not deliver because of the manufacturing and silicon shortage (next up), as well as scalpers buying up all the inventory in order to flip the product for double the profit. Starting to see a trend here? 

Silicon Shortage:

Last but certainly not least, is the silicon shortage. This is perhaps the largest issue, as it effects everybody and everything from cars to high-tech devices, even from toothbrushes and washing machines, as our society advances more and more. The reason for the shortage is a very convaluted topic, with intricacies varying from Intel’s failure back in 2018 to design a functioning 10nm chip, which therefore snowballed into a strain on 14 and 7nm production, to fires at large Japanese manufacturing plants, trade wars between the two largest producers of chips, increasing demand from the Automobile industry and more cars rely on processors to run the vehicle, etc etc. The list is growing by the day, but the output has been slow to catch up. I recommend this article from Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2021-semiconductors-chips-shortage/ if you want to really understand the multitude of issues facing the silicon market right now. Just understand that as we advance technologically, these issues are only going to become more prevalent. Buckle up.

Production of chips/semi-conductors during Peak COVID
Auto Industry losses (Billions) because of chip shortage

Summary:

In conclusion, you can clearly see that this past year and a half was a perfect storm for price inflation, supply shortages, and soaring demand. I covered about half of this in the YouTube Video I’ll have linked in the bottom of the blog, but there is so much more to cover that I just couldn’t fit it all in a 20 minute video. I HIGHLY suggest educating yourself on this matter as it will not be rectifying itself anytime soon at the consumer level. Get ready for at least another year of high prices, low supply, and scalping.

I hope you all enjoyed this article, and please subscribe to my YouTube channel in order to have an over-simplified version of these blogs voiced by yours truly, broken down into simple terms for your enjoyment. Have a fantastic day!

Love you all

Pat

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