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All Eyes On Graphics Card Shortage, Few Answers Forthcoming

As the GPU shortage continues, OEMs are struggling to keep their shelves stocked. We have been investigating the shortage over the last couple of weeks, and according to the OEMS we spoke with, they would be happy to sell every graphics card they can manufacturer, including mining-specific ones. It’s notable that some OEMs refused to comment on the shortage at all.

Sources with knowledge of the matter point directly to the ultimate source of GPUs. In short, it’s a supply issue. The sources said that all of the OEMs are having difficulties getting sufficient quantities of GPU cores from Nvidia. One source went on to say that Nvidia is likely having trouble getting enough GPU cores from TSMC. Orders are typically made to the fab months in advance, and because TSMC services several companies, it is unlikely that the fab is able to quickly increase production for Nvidia. And Nvidia may not want it to.

Nvidia would be required to predict roughly how many GPU cores it will sell several months down the road. Because the rapid rise of Ethereum popularity was unpredictable, there is no way for Nvidia to responsibly prepare for such an event.

Conversely, it would also be difficult for Nvidia to predict when that demand would suddenly vanish. Potential sudden excess inventory could also have a negative effect on the value of graphics cards. One company explicitly told us that it does not plan to increase production of its graphics cards for this exact reason.

We asked Nvidia to comment on the situation, but a spokesperson had no comment on the matter, also citing the company’s quiet period.

It should be noted, however, that one OEM -- EVGA -- is enduring the GPU shortage noticeably better than the others, with more graphics cards in-stock on retail sites. The company also offers the least expensive GTX 1050, GTX 1050 Ti, GTX 1060 3GB, and GTX 1060 6GB on the market. We asked EVGA directly if it was having difficulties getting GPU cores from Nvidia, and a representative told us it wasn’t. However, the representative went on to say the company is experiencing tremendous demand, however, which is why several of its graphics cards are also sold out.

AMD is likely stuck in a similar situation with production of its Polaris GPUs (via GlobalFoundries). The company’s only statement to Tom’s Hardware emphasized that gamers were its primary priority, and characterized Polaris demand as “solid,” based on both gaming and cryptocurrency mining. AMD board partners have been reluctant to comment on the situation.

Both AMD and Nvidia are also boxed in due to the upcoming launches of new GPUs. Vega’s arrival is imminent, and production focus is surely on the new products customers are anxiously awaiting. Although Nvidia’s next GPU architecture will arrive a bit later, it’s still too close to consider a major and unplanned ramp in existing GPU parts.

The supply issues paint a rather grim picture for now. The unpredictable nature of cryptocurrency demand makes it exceedingly difficult for companies to plan inventory levels, especially in the face of imminent new GPUs. Until something shifts -- waning cryptocurrency demand or a more predictable demand -- this is the state of consternation the graphics world we may all have to live with.

  • why_wolf
    Most likely the miners were hitting up the other brands firsts and depleting their stock before moving on the EVGA. Unless for some reason EVGA placed a much larger order for GPU cores ahead of time than the other OEMs.
    Reply
  • valeman2012
    They are forgetting gamers still uses these cards for their main purposes.

    AMD and Nvidia need to prevent mining somehow on these cards, force them use the special mining cards instead once released.
    Reply
  • clonazepam
    19912111 said:
    They are forgetting gamers still uses these cards for their main purposes.

    AMD and Nvidia need to prevent mining somehow on these cards, force them use the special mining cards instead once released.

    Nobody is being forgotten. Many card mfrs are watching their peripheral sales slow. Less cards being bought by gamers means slower adoption of g-sync and freesync monitors, as well as the many other branded items, with higher margins, being attached to sales of the graphics cards. Miners just simply aren't interested in the extras.

    They can't really gimp card performance for mining without major repercussions and they can't get enough chips for their current SKUs, let alone make special cards aimed at mining.
    Reply
  • ARICH5
    that raises an interesting question. is there something that gpu makers can OMIT in their gpu's that would make the card unattractive to miners, but still benefit the gamer?
    what is it specificcaly in the gpu that the miner uses and omit that what the gamer doesnt use?
    Reply
  • SinxarKnights
    19912254 said:
    that raises an interesting question. is there something that gpu makers can OMIT in their gpu's that would make the card unattractive to miners, but still benefit the gamer?
    what is it specificcaly in the gpu that the miner uses and omit that what the gamer doesnt use?

    Really there is nothing you can take out of it that would benefit the gamer. Miners use it because of the parallel processing power of cuda (and openCL on AMD cards). Absolutely no reason to gimp hardware because of a short term spike in demand regardless of the reason.
    Reply
  • ammaross
    Actually, if they use high-latency RAM like the GDDR5X of the 1080/Ti, it hurts ETH mining at least.
    Reply
  • jsantosv
    Miners don't use anything specific in the card. Every crypto currency has some algorithm that is optimized to run on certain hardware. Daggerhasimoto (Ethereum algorithm) is designed to run on GPU memory. The faster the memory the better. The GF10 series is pretty good for this, specially because they're energy efficient. However, the GTX1080 memory is pretty weak for ETH mining and 1070's are expensive, that's why the 1060 3GB hits the sweet spot. Until the ETH DAG can't fit in the 3GB memory and all these cards immediately become obsolete for ETH mining (this is predicted to happen in Dec / Jan next year, but nobody is certain). Only cards with probably 4GB or more will work for ETH mining.

    However, there are hundreds of crypto coins out there that can be mined with the GPU core. ETH just happen to be the most profitable at this moment.

    To control supply against mining I think GPU makers would have to develop some kind of API designed specifically for mining hardware, and make all the mining software developers comply to this standard. Given the open source nature of crypto currencies this is unlikely to happen. They could also ban mining software via GPU drivers on some models, but somebody will eventually come a modify the drivers.

    Stores are restricting the amount of cards you can buy at one time. But you can buy cards of different models in the same order. Miners only care about chip, the amount of memory and cooling. An MSI Gaming 6GB do exactly the same as an GTX Gaming X 6GB and you can buy both (I just did in Newegg).

    So yeah, it's a though one. I'm sure that they will come up with a solution to balance out things. Gaming and Crypto mining will never end, so they must find a solution.
    Reply
  • nzalog
    19912111 said:
    They are forgetting gamers still uses these cards for their main purposes.

    AMD and Nvidia need to prevent mining somehow on these cards, force them use the special mining cards instead once released.

    More I keep hearing these "gamers" talk the more I dislike them and I'm actually a gamer myself.

    When mining slows down and every manufacturer has a huge abundance of stock which leads them to significantly lower prices, will you and these other "gamers" stop crying then?

    There are positives and negatives to everything, even if it may not be immediately apparent...
    Reply
  • falchard
    There is nothing to really worry about here. Once these cards have lived through their usefulness, the crypto miners will dump them back on the market at large discounts to recoup costs.
    There is no such thing as making Crypto-mining specific cards. The only things they can do is not attach superfluous things to the board as they would not be needed reducing the boards cost. There is no cypto-specific workload. The workload is specific to the currency, and typically favors GPUs due to their computational performance.
    Reply
  • SinxarKnights
    19912421 said:
    19912111 said:
    They are forgetting gamers still uses these cards for their main purposes.

    AMD and Nvidia need to prevent mining somehow on these cards, force them use the special mining cards instead once released.

    More I keep hearing these "gamers" talk the more I dislike them and I'm actually a gamer myself.

    When mining slows down and every manufacturer has a huge abundance of stock which leads them to significantly lower prices, will you and these other "gamers" stop crying then?

    There are positives and negatives to everything, even if it may not be immediately apparent...

    Thats what i'm saying as well. Gimping graphics cards because of a short term shortage is extremely short sighted. Thankfully Nvidia and AMD are focused on profits (weird saying that but in this case it is a good thing). Meaning they don't care who uses their cards or for what purpose.
    Reply