With most graphics cards designed to cater to PC gamers and artificial intelligence programmers, graphics card designer ASUS is innovating a new use for graphics cards: mining cryptocurrency. Mining digital currencies including Bitcoin requires a lot of computing power, meaning that powerful graphics cards are beneficial for miners. Seeing an opportunity in a niche market, ASUS hopes to capitalize on providing currency miners with the highest powered and affordable costing graphics card.
ASUS is planning to sell a version of its AMD- and Nvidia- based cards designed to cater specifically to the needs of cryptocurrency miners. While no pricing or availability information has been provided yet, the Asus Mining P106 and the Asus Mining RX 470 have shown up on the company’s website this week. While no cost has been given, ASUS strives to provide a low-cost but relatively powerful graphics card to be used in computers serving as clearinghouses for transactions.
ASUS has designed their cards to be durable, allowing for 24/7 uninterrupted coin production operations. The RX 470 has an AMD Radeon RX470 and 4GB of dedicated RAM, meaning that it will not be powerful enough to maximize graphics settings when playing a game at 4K resolution. Instead, the card is better designed to suit currency miners, with a combination of price and power that should remain appealing. The Nvidia-powered P106 increases dedicated RAM to 6GB, though most other specs match the RX 470.
NVIDIA and AMD are the major players in the GPU market, making dedicated chips capable of the graphics and parallel processing power needed for high-end gaming and mining amongst other capabilities. The main reason for why other graphics cards designers have not yet developed a similar graphics cards is due to how multiple GPUs can be connected to a single motherboard, which is the ideal situation for a currency miner. ASUS is a third party vendor that uses chips from Nvidia and AMD and mounts them on custom PCBs to be marketed as high-end graphics cards.
This new direction allows graphics card designers to explore a new market, creating cards that remain low-costing and incrementally increasing the power capabilities, instead of the usual goal of providing the most powerful graphics card for a competitive price.
Currency miners typically make a small amount of money by serving as a verification service for transactions using digital currency. Each day, miners record transactions to a ledger and receive the equivalent bitcoins for each block they record. While it was once possible for individual miners to make large sums of money, with the discovery of new currencies becoming more and more difficult, the sums of money miners make has also reduced. Hence why price is an important consideration, and a moderately priced but powerful GPU could attract miners who realize the long projected time frame required for them to break even on their hardware investments.
With the resurgence of cryptocurrency mining markets comes a demand for graphics cards designed to meet the demands of currency mining, Asus, AMD, and Nvidia’s development of qualifying graphics cards capitalize on a rising market that can be expected to bring them great returns on their investment.
It will be interesting to see how the market for graphics cards designed for currency markets develop, considering the potentially limited scope once the required processing power combined with the cheapest cost has been achieved. Furthermore, it will it be interesting to see how a supply cater to currency miners may affect the currency mining market, and whether there will be an increase in individual miners.
Featured Image via Flickr/Sean MacEntee