An astronomer at one of the leading Universities in the world has claimed that finding aliens on other planets has become almost an impossible task to achieve these days because of the global bitcoin fever.
Bitcoin Mining Taking Over
In an interview with the BBC, Dr. Dan Werthimer, chief scientist at Berkeley University’s Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Research Center, has said that he and his team would “like to use the latest GPUs [graphics processing units] [and] we can’t get ’em. That’s limiting our search for extraterrestrials, to try to answer the question: ‘Are we alone? Is there anybody out there?’”
Perhaps on the surface, these questions may seem irrelevant to our everyday life on earth, but the reasons behind Werthimer’s demands are very human. The arrival of Bitcoin in 2009, followed by a sweep of various other cryptocurrencies, coupled with 2017’s wide entrance into the mainstream, has come with more than a few caveats. One such being the alternative function of the above-mentioned graphics cards. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are created through a process known as mining.
The process of cryptocurrecy mining involves solving complex mathematical puzzles which are used to secure a virtual currency’s network. With each equation resolved in the Bitcoin network, for instance, the successful miner is rewarded with 12.5 BTC ($133,495) at time of press. In addition to computers, the mining process requires high-grade GPUs, and here we begin to see the conflict with space researchers. The gaming industry is also feeling the pressure, as the rising price of graphics cards is forcing exorbitant prices onto PC gamers.
Astronomers employ GPUs to analyze vast amounts of raw data picked up by the telescopes that scan the universe for radio waves produced by asteroids, stars, and other possible unknowns.
GPU Manufacturers Already on the Moon
While scientists and gamers are blaming cryptocurrency miners for the dearth of GPUs, Blockchain-based virtual currency miners are also not happy about the increasing costs of purchasing these cards. The only people on the bullish side of it all are the companies who manufacture these GPUs and mining machines. Nvidia, a tech company, specializing in graphics cards manufacturing, has capitalized on the craze and reaped tremendous benefits.
BTCManager reported on the overwhelming increase in demand for graphics processing units for crypto mining massively helped boost business for Nvidia and AMD, which are two of the most significant manufacturers of GPUs.
Morgan Stanley analysts have forecasted that AMD’s revenues would hit at least $1.43 billion in the first quarter of 2018, while Nvidia is expected to declare nothing less than $2.81 billion in the first quarter of this year.
Rationing the Cards
To maintain a balance in the distribution of these GPUs producers are beginning to ration graphics cards. In January 2018, BTCManager also reported that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC), the world’s biggest chip foundry, have reduced the number of wafers it makes for Nvidia and turned to manufacturing more chips for Bitmain instead. Nvidia has also made considerable efforts to solve this issue by asking retailers to ration the cards by selling a maximum of only two of the same card models with each order. Although many vendors are complying with this request, whether rationing GPUs will prove to be the solution is still very much unknown.