Ethereum Mining Changes May Be Good News For Graphics Card Buyers

The Ethereum Foundation announced that the method used for ether mining will shift to "proof-of-stake," which could alleviate the GPU shortage significantly.

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The Ethereum Foundation announced recently that the mining model that the cryptocurrency relies on to generate new Ether will soon change from "proof-of-work" to "proof-of-stake," which the foundation says will cut the energy used by the coin by "at least 99.95%." While that might not mean much to non-crypto heads, it does suggest that the use of high-end GPUs to mine Ether might be curtailed by this change. And that could result in a decline in the demand for graphics cards, meaning that it'll be easier for your average PC player to find and buy one.

As the blog post announcing this change states, the current "proof-of-work" model results in gigawatts of energy being used by crypto chains. However, if Ethereum switches to the "proof-of-stake" model instead--which offsets the work of verifying transactions onto the Ethereum network itself--the amount of energy consumption involved will apparently decrease by a factor of "at least" 1000. Ethereum will switch over to proof-of-stake "as soon as possible," which will be an event known as "The Merge."

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"Ethereum’s power-hungry days are numbered, and I hope that’s true for the rest of the industry too," a portion of the blog post reads, reflecting the oft-repeated criticism that cryptocurrency requires immense (and wasteful) amounts of power. However, Bitcoin does not rely on GPUs to crunch numbers, instead using application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) on special-purpose mining rigs to grind out new coins.

As anyone trying to build or upgrade a PC in the past few years is well aware, the increasing popularity of cryptocurrency mining has contributed to graphics card shortages from time to time. However, the ongoing GPU shortage is due to a variety of factors, including a global lack of semiconductors that have affected many different kinds of consumer electronics, such as game consoles. Nvidia recently announced that newly-manufactured high-end RTX 30-series cards will include anti-mining measures similar to the one found on the 3060.

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