Asus announces new graphics cards that aren’t meant for gamers
Asus, one of the world’s largest technology hardware makers has announced new graphics cards (GPUs) aimed at the cryptocurrency mining market.
Taiwan-based manufacturer Asus revaeled the Mining RX 470 and Mining P106, which were designed to handle the energy and heat intensive process of mining. Though not expressly pitched as such, the release is undoubtedly aimed at capturing some of the interest in mining ethereum. Bitcoin mining, by comparison, has evolved to a stage in which application-specific integrated circuits, or ASICs, are required to compete.
Cryptocurrency mining is a process by which new transaction blocks are added to the distributed network. When this happens, new blockchain tokens are introduced to the system and awarded to the miner as compensation – in this case, a profit is achieved when the cost of electricity and the operation itself is lower than the revenue generated by selling those tokens.
Cryptocurrency miners discovered years ago that mining for Bitcoin is a lot more profitable if you use a GPU. The same principles apply to newer currencies, including Ethereum and others. Which means that miners out there have been buying GPUs like crazy in the past few months, to improve their returns. The more processing power, the higher the award.
According to today’s Asus announcement, the new cards are “engineered especially for coin mining, positioning the products as capable of providing “maximum mega hash rates at minimum cost”.
Interest in cryptocurrency mining has led to reported shortages of GPUs in the global market. One hobbyist miner recently told CoinDesk that local tech stores have run low on the cards, adding that online marketplaces like Newegg, Amazon and eBay, among others, are also largely out of stock.
It’s a situation that echoes the earlier “GPU rush” from 2014, when mining activity around alternative cryptocurrencies like dogecoin and litecoin led to similar price increases and a decline in available inventory.
Shortages aside, ethereum network data suggests that more hash rate is coming into ply as time goes on. According to etherchain.org, the mining difficulty – which rises as more hashing power is brought online – nearly tripled from 27th April to 27th June.
But these new models are not meant to be used for playing the latest games or running graphics intensive apps. The P106 doesn’t even have connectors so it can’t be hooked up to display, while the Mining RX 470 only has a DVI output, while the DisplayPort and HDMI ports lack connectors.
The Asus Mining series will be available in July, but prices have not been announced. Sapphire, and other graphics cards makers are working on similar components for cryptocurrency mining rigs.