from the everybody-like-bubbles-until-they-pop dept.
Something odd is going on in finance this week. One unit of BitCoin briefly exceeded the value of a troy ounce of gold before it fell back. However, this occurred during Ethereum rallying to its current peak above US$100. Perhaps this is like comparing apples, oranges, and dog-biscuits but — as of this week — we now have a situation where Ethereum is well above the US$1 credibility threshold of most alternative digital currencies and, to a simpleton, BitCoin was more valuable than gold.
What changed? Nothing obvious. Banks have teams of shirking resume builders working on trendy projects and they've been working on digital currencies for years. Likewise, tranches of investments funds have been going into technology for decades. However, after puffing and bursting a housing bubble and educational bubble, is this the next place to jub other people's money? Is it Charles Stross' Accelerando coming to life? I don't know but I'll be very concerned if there is a financial wobble within the next month.
[Ed Note: Asking what is Ethereum? Me too. Additional information on the above topic can be found at the IB Times]
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After the last of the Dirty Harry films, The Dead Pool, was released in 1988, libertarians began to discuss the potential for crypto-currency prediction markets to become crowdfunded assassination markets. Many schemes were proposed and many were unworkable. The main complication is an assassin using zero-knowledge proof to claim a bounty without implicating any other party. This arrangement ignores betting exchanges where anyone can lay or back bets and no-one on a given exchange may be involved in assassination. Discussion has been sparse regarding secondary markets for fake death followed by new identity.
Whether or not a dead pool is bloodless, ire has been most often directed at government officials and the actual use of lethal force. When a BitCoin dead pool launched in 2013, Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, became subject of the biggest bounty. Perhaps it was obvious with hindsight that libertarian capitalists in possession of digital currency would focus on the person directly responsible for managing the world's largest, centralized, debt-based, nation-state, fiat currency.
Anyhow, given that a real assassination market has supposedly been running for four years, where are the high-profile deaths? Or disappearances? Is digital currency too complicated for soldiers of fortune? Too risky? Too ephemeral? Are the rewards too small? Will digital currency's increased value and flight to safety encourage libertarianism not previously seen? Or are people wimps?
German retailer MindFactory has removed many AMD and Nvidia graphics cards from sale because the products have a delivery time of 3 months. According to them, the GPU shortage affects "the whole of Germany" or even the "whole Europe".
The demand for GPUs to mine cryptocurrencies, particularly Ethereum, has led to OEMs creating products specifically tailored to cryptocurrency mining. For example, new cards that are smaller, have fewer display ports, with cooling systems:
While the GPU shortage continues, there are some signs of improvement. There are now several models of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1070 in stock from various OEMs, but prices remain high and relatively close to the price of the GTX 1080. There are also a few more GTX 1060 6GB graphics cards available, and the price on the least expensive one has dropped significantly, down from $484.80 to $259.99.
At the same time, however, the price on the least expensive GTX 1050 Ti has climbed by about $10, and several models now cost around $200. The price on the least expensive Geforce GTX 1060 3GB has also climbed by roughly $20, as well. This likely indicates that sales of these cards have increased somewhat, pushing prices up accordingly.
Meanwhile, several OEMs, including Asus, Biostar, Sapphire, and Zotac, have announced new mining graphics cards that are tailored for cryptocurrency mining. We have also seen a new motherboard from Asrock that can support up to 13 GPUs for mining. Biostar has a similar board for AM4 CPUs that can support six GPUs. Although we haven't seen them yet, EVGA and MSI also have mining GPUs coming soon, and MSI will also have a motherboard designed for mining. Although these may be attractive to cryptocurrency miners, one source told us that they use the same GPU cores as traditional graphics cards, and thus don't address the underlying supply problem.
The shortages go all the way to the source. OEMs are reportedly having trouble getting GPU cores from Nvidia, and Nvidia can't get enough from TSMC. This is presumably the same situation for AMD and GlobalFoundries.
It is perhaps not as medically useful as a rectal haptic logging device or stroke recovery glove, perhaps not as visionary and audacious as the 1989 Nintendo Power Glove, but perhaps some of the numerous sign language gloves can be used as ambidexterous VR gloves? Likewise, when the crypto-currency market crashes again there'll be a huge surplus of GPUs for VR.
Full disclosure: I'm easily amused; especially with purile jokes about cyber logging and stroking aids. However, in the last two months, I filed a haptics patent (which started as a purile joke). Also, I'm working on a US$300 immersive sound system and I'll have a large number of spare I/O pins.