All Your Cores Belong To Us: AMD Has A Mining Problem
With last weekends Radeon RX Vega launch if you weren’t multi-boxing for sale links with an army of bots you likely didn’t get a card. I made the mistake of having my 4 and 5 year olds wake me up in the wee hours of the morning, and I slept 45 minutes past the 6AM PDT sale time. I was much too late as the only thing for sale where air cooled RX 64 models for about $900.
I had a problem like many other AMD fans. There was a long awaited new video card out, and there was no way to get it near MSRP. My only other hope is to stay glued to my email and Reddit in the hopes of a batch sneaking through the miners defenses. I just don’t have time for that. Miners you say? AMD’s almost full product stack on the GPU side of the aisle is being gulped down by Ethereum miners and other alt coins. This is not a new problem as it has happened before with Bitcoin, Litecoin, and now Ether. When your GPUs are going double to triple of market price I suppose that’s a good problem to have. Right?
Of course AMD purportedly delayed the Vega RX launch to make sure there was enough stock to appease both gamer, miner, and the hybrids playing both roles. A full at war on Reddit over who to blame for the lack of silicon has erupted. Even gaming hardware sites have been the target of scorn. Is it the miners fault, or are yields too low? Should AMD have waited longer? Could they have with Nvidia grabbing more and more share as 2017 has passed? Surely this wasn’t a dreaded paper launch.
A couple of months ago I contacted a long time Radeon manufacturer to try and work a bulk deal for just any Radeons. Impossible is what I was told as for months miners had eaten up all stock. Surely this can’t last forever I argued, and for a while Ethereum dropped down below $200. This could be the moment to strike. With August prices spiked back up, and on launch day $300 was reached doubling from mid July. Rumors of a 70 to 100 Mega hash rate had miners on notice.
So your options now appear to be limited a couple of options. Bundles exist on Newegg at publication time where you can get a card, but only if you also want a $700 Samsung monitor, or also a Ryzen and motherboard. This will work for some of you who want a full system upgrade. That might do with trick for old FX owners if you also want to bite the bullet on DDR4. The only other alternative is the waiting game. Ethereum price could drop again or AMD might increase yields leading to supply loosening a bit.
There has to be a better way to do this. Couldn’t card manufacturers work with AMD, and Newegg to throw us a loyalty bone? I’m a member of many loyalty programs. I have a loyalty program for my gaming center. A serial number based loyalty program seems like a solid option. I’m already inputting serial numbers when I’m registering. Couldn’t XFX or Powercolor say hey this customer has bought video cards from us for over a decade. Lets give them a pre-sale access code! Instead I got one thing on launch day. An email from Newegg at 2AM saying they were launching at 6AM. Yes a whopping 4 hour lead time as I slept. No premium members pre-sale. Sorry, you don’t matter is the message that was sent. Those dollars and loyalty apparently pale in comparison to miner money. That serial from my Radeon 9800XT is useless.