PC processor maker AMD reported a sizeable boost in profits in its most recent quarter, largely thanks to sales of Vega 56 and Vega 64 GPUs which are popular among Bitcoin miners. These chips' massive processing power allows miners to harvest coins faster, and we've seen news of couriers flying stock, as soon as they hit the shelves, around the world to help kit out the latest major Russian or Chinese mines.
However, AMD predicts that sales for the next quarter will be down by around 15% from the mining market, while in the longer term, blockchain processing demands could see a future rise in sales. The predicted downturn could come from miners looking to consolidate their current systems, fine-tuning them to run at maximum efficiency rather than investing in even more hardware.
The massive power and energy demands of mines
If you are thinking of investing in a bitcoin mine, consider one of the world's largest set up in an old factory in China. It uses 25,000 networked PCs, producing billions of calculations each second and chewing through a daily electricity bill approaching $40,000. Farms like this are why China and Russia are cornering the majority of new coins.
While chips like AMD's Vega range can produce a sizeable boost in processing power, at some point cost will become an issue, even for companies mining millions of dollars worth of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. These farms are also rapidly killing the market for novice miners who stand only a fractional chance, even with some powerful hardware, of mining coins.
This helps make the market more of a traditional investment one, as buyers look to convert existing currencies to invest in new coins that could experience high demand, as overall interest in cryptocurrencies continues to grow. Expect more drama from the mining factories in 2018 and beyond, perhaps as high-performance cloud becomes an option, removing the need for actual hardware-based mines.