Biostar joined the rush to capitalize on the cryptocurrency mining craze with a new VA47D5RV42 (Mining) graphics card.
The card is based on AMD's Radeon RX 470D GPU, which is currently available only in China, where it's marketed as the ideal GPU for "cost-effective players" and internet cafes. The RX 470D has fewer compute units and stream processors than the RX 470, but the clock speeds, memory, and typical power draw are the same. Those compromises help keep the price of RX 470D-based cards down without handicapping them too much.
Biostar's VA47D5RV42 (Mining) features 1,792 stream processors and 4GB of GDDR5 memory. The card also has a dual-fan design, and unlike the mining-focused cards Asus revealed in June, its display ports don't appear to have been disabled. That should allow Biostar to quickly rebrand the product to appeal to gamers if Bitcoin and Ethereum miners don't show enough interest in the compact-but-relatively-weak graphics card.
This rush to introduce mining-specific cards stems from the rise of the Ethereum cryptocurrency. Its exchange rate has risen to all-time highs over the last few months, which has prompted miners to scoop up as many graphics cards as they can. More graphics cards equals more Ether which could lead to a substantial return on investment. There's just one little problem: There aren't enough graphics cards to go around.
This has caused graphics cards based on AMD's Radeon RX 570 and 580, or Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1060 and 1070, to jump in price or simply disappear from online retailers' digital shelves. Low-end (RX 560, GTX 1050) and high-end (GTX 1080) cards have been mostly unaffected by the mining frenzy, but anyone looking for middle-of-the-road cards is bound to be disappointed until manufacturers catch up to demand.
Biostar hasn't revealed pricing information or availability of the VA47D5RV42 (Mining) graphics card. We suspect it will remain exclusive to China, however, until AMD decides to bring the RX 470D to other markets. In the meantime, anyone looking for the mining-specific card will probably have to get ready to import it themselves.