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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) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15 2018, @08:24PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15 2018, @08:24PM (#638422)

    I've recently been wanting to build a new box, but ram and gpu prices are insane! Most estimates on RAM prices give a year or so for manufacturers to get new production up to the point that prices drop, but for gpu there is no end in sight.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 16 2018, @04:00PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 16 2018, @04:00PM (#638855)

    i had a 1600 watt power supply fail. i used 1200 of those watts with some room to spare..

    but getting a replacement of a similar size at a normal price was not possible. i dont have a shipping date or even an eta... but i got one on backorder. right now i am using two older psus from computer builds of christmases past... (and really based on the purchase dates, they were on sale around that time of year when I bought them...)

    i had to buy an adapter cable to combine the signal and ground wires to let them both turn on at the same time because i didnt want to use a paperclip. now the ads i get often include coin mining accessories... so add psus to your list of hardware eaten up by the tulip craze.