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posted by Fnord666 on Thursday February 15 2018, @04:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the just-nod-if-you-can-hear-me dept.

Crypto-currency craze 'hinders search for alien life'

Scientists listening out for broadcasts by extra-terrestrials are struggling to get the computer hardware they need, thanks to the crypto-currency mining craze, a radio-astronomer has said.

Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) researchers want to expand operations at two observatories. However, they have found that key computer chips are in short supply. "We'd like to use the latest GPUs [graphics processing units]... and we can't get 'em," said Dan Werthimer.

Demand for GPUs has soared recently thanks to crypto-currency mining. "That's limiting our search for extra-terrestrials, to try to answer the question, 'Are we alone? Is there anybody out there?'," Dr Werthimer told the BBC.

[...] Other radio-astronomers have been affected. A group looking for evidence of the earliest stars in the universe was recently shocked to see that the cost of the GPUs it wanted had doubled.

[...] Prof [Aaron] Parsons' radio telescope, the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionisation Array (Hera), is an American, British and South African project located in South Africa's western plains. [...] Three months ago, the Hera team had budgeted for a set of GPUs that cost around $500 (£360) - the price has since doubled to $1,000.

"We'll be able to weather it but it is coming out of our contingency budget." added Prof Parsons. "We're buying a lot of these things, it's going to end up costing about $32,000 extra."

When the inevitable flood of cheap GPUs onto the market happens, will it be a boon to science?


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  • (Score: 0, Disagree) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15 2018, @06:17PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15 2018, @06:17PM (#638346)

    "When the inevitable flood of cheap GPUs onto the market happens" oh please do stfu.

    Instead of gamers and scientists (who evidently just crawled out from under a rock) whining about the cryptocurrency "craze" stealing all "their" GPUs why don't they demand these retarded ass GPU companies do their job and supply GPUs? If everyone would scream at AMD, and those disgusting @#$% at nvidia, maybe they would up their #@%$^ production. Prices and availability have been screwed for months or for a whole year if you don't count the month or so these morons actually restocked. how long does it take before it's not $enemy_tribe's fault? Their job is to supply the demand. That means you increase production until people aren't buying all of them up immediately! Sick of their assinine excuses about how cryptocurrency is just a "craze". It doesn't matter where they are going. If you can't react to changes in demand in a half way reasonable fashion you are just stupid and useless. We will replace your whole antiquated, joke of a distribution system with p2p blockchain solutions. We will replace your silo'd slaveware manufacturing with distributed, open hardware manufacturing. Though, that will take longer. I suggest you make the money while you can.

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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday February 15 2018, @06:20PM

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday February 15 2018, @06:20PM (#638347) Journal

    HODL HODL HODL

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by bob_super on Thursday February 15 2018, @06:29PM

    by bob_super (1357) on Thursday February 15 2018, @06:29PM (#638357)

    > Their job is to supply the demand.

    Their first job is to remain solvent.
    If/When the crypto craze stops, the market will be flooded with second-hand GPUs. If they matched current demand, they would end up with production overcapacity, and dramatically shrunk demand, which is a recipe for disaster.

    Some people have learnt from the 2001 crisis (they also don't finance their own customers, which was the third nail in many companies' coffins then).

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by unauthorized on Thursday February 15 2018, @11:17PM

    by unauthorized (3776) on Thursday February 15 2018, @11:17PM (#638518)

    Ramping up production to satisfy the demand in a glorified pyramid scheme is a poor long-term strategy.