Bitmain’s new Ether ASIC mining rig may not solve the GPU shortage after all

Bitmain, cryptocurrency mining equipment manufacturer announced the upcoming release of a new Ether (ETH) miner on April 16. The Antminer E9 model is an application-specific integrated circuit chip, which will run on the Ethash algorithm of the Ethereum blockchain.

No official release date has yet been announced for the E9, but the machine’s arrival may not be as impressive as first thought. The rig is facing competition in the form of Nvidia’s CMP series (Cryptocurrency Mining Processor) GPUs designed specifically for crypto mining. Meanwhile, Ethereum’s planned transition from proof-of-work to a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism could mean that the usefulness of the E9 is short-lived.

Nvidia recently announced that its CMP range is expected to bring in $ 150 million in profit in the first quarter of the year – three times more than the company originally expected.

Despite the seemingly explosive popularity of its crypto-specific graphics cards, Colette Kress, Nvidia’s chief financial officer, said in an investor call this week that the company expected the GPU shortage to persist for the rest of the year, despite increasing supply.

“We expect demand to continue to outpace supply for most of this year […] We will see supply continue to increase this quarter and throughout the year, ”said Kress, as reported by The Verge.

Nvidia has struggled to meet the demand for GPUs from its core gaming customers for a while as potential miners gobbled up cards to mine Ether and other cryptocurrencies. The Nvidia supply shortage phenomenon first emerged in late 2017 when that year’s bull run drew more people into crypto mining. After some cooling in the intervening years, the GPU shortage has resurfaced in 2020 and is showing no signs of declining.

Nvidia also announced the launch of a new anti-crypto mining version of the RTX 3060 on April 15th. Earlier this year, the company launched the RTX 3060 graphics card with a built-in limiter, making it less than half as effective at mining. of cryptocurrency. , as part of its efforts to separate gaming and mining demand.

Within days, rumors spread that hackers had bypassed the mine limiter, and just days later, Nvidia shot itself in the foot by releasing an official driver update that inadvertently removed the limiter itself.

The new version of the RTX 3060 will reportedly keep the same name and branding, but the faulty driver will be completely replaced, TechRadar reports.

While Bitmain’s release of the E9 may seem a little late given Ethereum’s eventual move to proof-of-stake in the next year or so, the limited time left to mine ETH could also result in a sharp spike in demand, as miners try to accumulate as much ETH as possible before the switch.

We asked Nvidia whether it expected the release of the E9 to help reduce the GPU shortage by diverting demand, or whether the company saw the rig as a competitor to its CMP range. This article will be updated as Nvidia replies.