Graphics cards, more specifically Nvidia's Cryptocurrency Mining Processor (CMP), are the new commodity among Chinese smugglers. TVB News (opens in new tab) reported that the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department busted a smuggling ring and recovered up to 300 CMP 30HX graphics cards.
The story seems like it came out of a movie. The Chinese authorities detected a suspicious fishing boat anchored just outside the Hong Kong International Airport. The sea smugglers were loading boxes from the fishing boat to a speedboat at 2 am. When their cover was blown, the shady men hopped on the speedboat and sped away towards mainland waters. A high-speed boat chase ensued (insert Bourne chase music), but the astute gang got away. However, the officers managed to detain the owner of the fishing boat.
The confiscated goods included typical exotic foods, such as sea cucumbers and shark fins, and tech products, like smartphones and computer gadgets. Much to the authorities' surprise, there were up to 300 unidentified graphics cards inside the boxes. According to the report, the lot of tech products is valued at HK$2 million (~$257,000).
The graphics cards lack branding or stickers that can provide a clue to their origins. Given the lack of display outputs, these graphics cards are unquestionably CMP offerings. They feature a black and grey cooler with two cooling fans. The pricing for Nvidia's CMP graphics cards remains a mystery, but we've seen the CMP 30HX hit the overseas market for as much as $723. With an estimated Ethereum hash rate up to 26 MH/s, the CMP 30HX isn't even that good for mining Ethereum. However, the graphics card shortage is likely affecting cryptocurrency miners as well, so they'll jump on any opportunity to make a profit. Besides, a contraband CMP 30HX is more affordable than buying directly from Nvidia or its partners.
With Ethereum's value soaring through the roof, there is a strong demand for graphics cards. Even the big corporations are getting in on the fun. Hut 8 Mining Corp. recently purchased up to $30 Million of Nvidia CMP graphics cards. Sadly, there are no signs of when the suffering will end for gamers.