There’s a Shortage in High End Graphics Cards for Editing and it’s BitCoin’s Fault

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By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

If you’ve been hearing about BitCoin and the crypto currency craze, you may be as confused as the rest of us. This digital currency has reached a real world value of over $20,000 per bitcoin, and it’s causing a mining craze that we haven’t seen since the California Gold Rush of 1848. What does this have to do with filmmaking? Well, if you’re looking to upgrade your video editing system with a high end video card, they may be hard to find.

the rise of cryptocurrency mining has created an unprecedented global shortage of graphics cards. If you go to your local retailer, you’re likely to find bare shelves where the beefier cards used to be. – Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica

High end graphics cards like the AMD Radeon Pro and the Nvidia GForce Titan X are rarely seen on store shelves these days, because so-called Crypto Miners are building high speed machines with which to mine bitcoin, ethereum and other crypto currencies. All that’s left on show room shelves are lower end graphics cards, that could be fine for computers used for word processing, surfing the web, and maybe some Minecraft. But using them to upgrade your rig for 4K editing and visual effects? Well, good luck with that.

“It’s not available in any (Best Buy) store,” she told me. “It’s not online.”

Not only are the cards sold out at stores like Best Buy, but used cards are going for top dollar on websites such as Craigslist and eBay, and it’s not uncommon to be above what they sold for brand new.  Citing a report from PC Part Picker, Lee says that used AMD Radeon RX 570 were selling used for around $200 in April of 2017, and nearly doubled that by summer. Currently, you can expect to pay $400 for a used card online. The same is true with Nvidia GeForce cards, which have an average price for a 1070 reaching $600 used. And as the craze continues, you can expect the price to continue to trend upward.

Used Nvidia GeForce Cards fetch top dollar on eBay.

Normally the domain of high end applications like video post production and gaming, the high performance power of these cards can be used to validate the block chain transactions of digital purchases and transactions, verifying the ownership of the bitcoin as it moves from hand to hand.  This has caused hobbyist crypto currency miners to build high end crypto mining machines in their garage, which can up to $50 a day on autopilot.

Many who have been mining bitcoin are starting to see BitCoin as no longer profitable as the process requires tremendous amounts of electricity, and sophisticated, more energy efficient ASIC mining equipment costs thousands of dollars to invest in. But Ethereum is still a popular alternative, thanks to a mining algorithm that uses the memory cache of graphics cards to shoulder a lot of the heavy lifting in processing. So much so that users can mine Ethereum with graphics cards that have as little as 2GB of RAM on board. And as such, a run on video cards has happened.

“Cryptocurrency can’t crash soon enough,” one gamer wrote on the PCGaming subreddit

But if you’re thinking your in the wrong business and may get into the game, hang on. Ethereum gets harder to earn as more miners try to earn it. The mathematical problems that the crypto machines are designed to process, get harder as the market in crypto mining saturates. So as more people get into the game, the harder it is to mine, the less profit you can make. But that’s not stopping people from buying any and every card that they can find. And with crypto mining being a worldwide phenomenon, it’s not going to get any easier until the balloon pops and crypto currencies crash.

Even Kodak is getting into the crypto game by not only creating their own currency, called Kodak Coin, but also offering mining machines with their nameplate on them. The machines are being offered for rent for two years at a price of $3400, and the profit sharing scheme that can only be equated to share cropping. Promising up to nearly $10,000 a year in profits, renters will have to split profits with Kodak 50-50. But many say that Kodak’s promise of high returns is based on faulty estimates of a volatile crypto currency market.

So if you’re looking to upgrade your video editing station’s graphics card, you’re likely going to have to pay top dollar to do it, or wait until the craziness subsides. But if you opt to join the Crypto Gold Rush with that old Mac Pro collecting dust in your garage, don’t expect to get rich overnight.

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About James DeRuvo 801 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

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