Updated: Some GPUs are in short supply, but why?

You may have noticed, as we did when preparing our latest system guide update, that some of the highest-profile gaming GPUs, like the Radeon R9 290 and R9 280X, are hard to find in stock at online retailers right now. Consequently, prices have risen, not just on Radeons but on the competing GeForces, as well.

The question is: why?

We’ve seen some chatter in forums and at other media outlets about how the rise of GPU-based virtual currency mining could be driving unusually strong demand for high-end graphics cards. It’s an interesting narrative, given the way that some early Bitcoin miners apparently profited nicely.

Problem is, I’ve seen zero concrete data to support this narrative. A handful of media reports have cited a rise in Bitcoin/Litecoin prices as a proof point, but that’s weak sauce in the grand scheme of things.

Let’s be clear: in this case, the grand scheme involves an already massive and vibrant market for PC gaming hardware. Take this estimate from March for example, which put the market’s value for 2012 at $20 billion, with 8% growth from the year prior. This estimate and others project even more growth in the years to come.

Given how dynamic and hotly contested the PC graphics space is, one of the toughest challenges for GPU makers is sizing the market. Through a combination of data-driven projections and gut-feel guesswork, companies like AMD and Nvidia have to place their orders for wafers of GPU chips months in advance of when they’ll be selling. If they order too many chips, the company can be stuck carrying millions worth of inventory that’s inevitably declining in value by the day. Order too few, and you’ll see shortages, rising prices, and—perhaps worst of all—the ceding of market share to your rival firm, if they happened to make a better guess about the demand picture.

We’ve seen this story play out in nearly every possible permutation over the years. You may recall the Radeon X800 XT Phantom Edition or the shortfall of both 40- and 55-nm GPUs in late 2009. Neither firm has been immune to making bad guesses, and both have suffered simultaneously, at times. I believe in the case of the 40-nm shortages back when, another firm (probably Qualcomm) was absorbing the lion’s share of TSMC’s 40-nm capacity, leaving the GPU makers both short.

So what’s happening right now, with apparent GPU shortages and rising prices, is nothing new. What’s different is the widely whispered suggestion that somehow, enthusiasm for virtual currency mining has managed to inject a new and noteworthy uncertainty into a very large, established market that was already difficult to predict.

In the total absence of data, this assertion seems almost laughable. Sure, the scenario has a certain plausibility, since GPUs can be quite good at specific types of computational tasks and there’s some speculative value to using them for mining. Heck, mining could be growing massively and driving quite a few GPU purchases. But without concrete proof, in the grand scheme of things, you’ve got to think the present shortages are being driven primarily by the larger currents of supply and demand in the PC gaming market. To put it tritely, until we see hard data to suggest otherwise, I’d suspect any surge in demand is probably driven more by Minecraft than mining, more by Borderlands than Bitcoin.

Update: Looks like we’re starting to find some hard data to support the theory that Litecoin mining is driving Radeon sales beyond what one would expect. Although the competing GeForce GTX 770 offers very similar gaming performance, there are a series of eBay auctions out there, like this and this and this, where R9 280X cards have sold at prices of $450 or higher. That’s well above the $299.99 list price, and most of the eBay listings mention Litecoin mining specifically. All told, that suggests folks are paying more specifically for the Radeons, and not just for gaming.

Also, this post by a TR reader attempts to translate increases in coin mining production rates into an increase in GPU counts dedicated to the task. If he has his math right, the potential number of GPU sales there is considerable. We’ll keep watching to see what more we can learn.

Comments closed
    • dodozoid
    • 6 years ago

    I was searching for some info about this rage and encountered some performance comparison

    [url<]https://litecoin.info/Mining_hardware_comparison[/url<] I wonder why are radeons so much more potent in this case

      • Krogoth
      • 6 years ago

      It is because cryptocurrency mining is heavily depended on single precision performance and how many processors you have. AMD’s current GPU architectures are superior to their Nvidia counterparts in both areas.

    • luisnhamue
    • 6 years ago

    This might look like madness. But yesterday I was reading about bitcoin. I saw that who got it in 2011, might be rich now. So I tried to see how to do money with bitcoin, probably I could make some, if the bitcoin price inflated.
    Then I saw on google, there are many ASIC’s capable of doing GH/s while I could only do few hundreds MH/s with my vid card. In another words, its kinda impossible to make money with bitcoin right now, if you just own a gpu.

    Then I suddenly found articles about litecoin, they said it’s like silver for bitcoin, difficulty is not high, and the algorithm is suitable for Radeons, like bitcoin is.
    So I dont see why people can only relate shortage of vid cards because of vid games. Bitcoin is real, people had chance to make money, so i believe there’s a big chance with litecoin.

    Actually the thing that might be driving people buying vid cards is: there are no dedicated machines like ASICs to kill the game for gpus, so its rush hour before things get too complex.

      • Diplomacy42
      • 6 years ago

      Assuming of course that light-coin isn’t a ponzi scheme meant to take advantage of the fact that nobody actually goes to the trouble of understanding the fundamentals of what bitcoins and lightcoins are…

    • jstern
    • 6 years ago

    I started mining, just because I loved the idea that I could buy a new GPU (long story). The day before I got a 290x I made like $3 with my 7870. The next day with both of them running I made like $2. Today I making like 2 pennies an hour. The intense media coverage caused a lot of people to start mining, and now it’s doomed. It was so exciting, but the day after I bought the 290x I was horrified by all the sudden exposure and knew that the difficulty was going to get too high.

    So my point is before you start buying multiple GPUs, make sure you know what you’re doing, because I’m reading a lot of comments of people saying, “I’m new and I just bought 3 Radeon r9 290x…” and I don’t know, it just sucks.

    • ub3r
    • 6 years ago

    AMD actually does advertise their cards as great for mining.

      • ptsant
      • 6 years ago

      Where did you see that?

        • ub3r
        • 6 years ago

        [url<]http://www.amd.com/US/PRODUCTS/DESKTOP/GRAPHICS/7000/7970/Pages/radeon-7970.aspx[/url<] Look at the last dotpoint..

    • Bensam123
    • 6 years ago

    Some redonkulous prices on eBay as far as 7950 pricing goes. It appears that whatever is afflicting people to buy, it isn’t very logical and the people buying aren’t very tech savvy.

    For instance, the 7870 is also selling on eBay for 1/3 the price of the 7950 ($150) which isn’t that far fetched. Yet it produces 100Mh/s less. The 7970 is selling for the same price as the 7950 as well… So people who are buying these are probably doing it based on a article they read somewhere, which explicitly states the 7950 is the best bang for their buck… Which was probably true, back when you could get them as low as $160.

    This is definitely a craze. Custom ASICs I was looking into have doubled or tripled in price as demand has shot through the roof or they’re trying to ride this bubble, but still offer infinitely better price/performance and performance/watt.

    This is probably the article they’re refrencing: [url<]http://www.cryptobadger.com/build-your-own-litecoin-mining-rig/[/url<] (Skinner posted it) Here is a helpful comparison of hardware for coin mining: [url<]https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Mining_hardware_comparison[/url<] There really isn't even any reason to buy AMD hardware for mining when you can get ASICs. Even the ASICs that aren't sold out are for the most part still cheaper then buying graphics cards, let alone more efficient.

    • tipoo
    • 6 years ago

    Funny how much a non gaming application like Litecoin is benefiting AMD GPUs…Almost as if AMD made it πŸ˜›
    That would be somewhat funny but very skeezy if true (which I don’t think it is at all)

    • moose17145
    • 6 years ago

    Just checked ebay prices on 7970’s… I just bought a r9 290 for 406 dollar after shipping a couple weeks before black friday, and about six months ago I bought a 7970 GHz edition for 355 dollars. It now appears I can sell the 7970 for as much or more than I paid for the r9 290… so… thinking I might very well ebay that 7970 and make the money back that i paid for it and then some…

      • anyhow
      • 6 years ago

      You could probably flip it pretty quickly over in the [url=http://www.reddit.com/r/gpumining/<]GPU mining subreddit [/url<].

      • sschaem
      • 6 years ago

      I checked around at a few shops, and some places dont expect stock until early 2014. (oK only 3 weeks away πŸ™‚

      So if you want to sell that 7970, now is the time.

      • moose17145
      • 6 years ago

      So I am posting this as an update to inform the readers of TR of the rediculousness of what these cards are selling for right now. And also to brag just a little bit because I am honestly in disbelief and excited that i just sold a videocard for way more than i paid for it. But mainly to throw out to my fellow TR folk that if you have a high end 7000 or R9 series card it might very well be worth it to deal without having a high end card for a month or two and sell it for profits right now while the market is going crazy.

      I seriously, No joke, just sold my Sapphire Radeon 7970 GHz Edition for 500 USD (513 after shipping fees) on ebay. I set the starting bid at 300 and threw in a buy it now of 500 dollars (honest to god not expecting anyone to jump on the buy it now price). Well someone did jump on the buy it now price. So I now have a 6 month old Sapphire 7970 GHz all packaged up inside a old newegg box getting ready to head to California. I paid 355 for the card back in June, and at the time came with 4 free games (tomb raider, far cry 3 blood dragon, crysis 3, and bioshock infinite). Obviously the buyer is not getting those 4 games.

      This is exact model of card I sold for 500 that i paid 355 for after MIR.
      [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814202001[/url<] I also just bought a XFX R9 290 for 406 after shipping from the egg right before black friday. I am seriously contemplating selling it on ebay too right now. I am pretty sure I could make do with either the Radeon 4870 or GTX 285 that i have laying around for a month or two for when prices stabilize again. It would suck not having a super nice high end card for a few months and it would also dig into my litecoin mining profits not being able to mine for a month or two... but then again... being able to sell a r9 290 for probably 600 bucks that i paid 400 for is dang tempting...

      • dodozoid
      • 6 years ago

      Seems like I`m gonna sell my old 7950 for enough money to buy new r9 290 when the coin-craze fades away

    • ub3r
    • 6 years ago

    [url<]http://bitcoinexaminer.org/20-awesome-litecoin-mining-rigs/[/url<]

      • sschaem
      • 6 years ago

      Interesting how a bunch of setup use PCIe ribbons extension cables…

    • Klimax
    • 6 years ago

    I think we’ll have harder data in few months. Steam HW survey. Also if one could get data out of EA it would be interesting. (Not aware of anybody else)

    If we won’t see significant changes in Radeon’s positions, then we can conclude that they were used onto mining, because there aren’t that many games sold without Steam and requiring high-end cards.

    • jss21382
    • 6 years ago

    I’d say it’s more that they bought up all the old stock that normally languishes at the retailers that people like me usually buy. As recently as a few weeks ago the 7950 was the go to card in all of the litecoin mining guides, and everyone looking for the next gold rush jumped on them. So, now, Instead of a 7950 that I would normally buy, I’m looking at an R9…along with every LTC speculator that doesn’t care what they cost.

    • SCR250
    • 6 years ago

    [quote<] Looks like we're starting to find some hard data to support the theory that Litecoin mining is driving Radeon sales beyond what one would expect. Although the competing GeForce GTX 770 offers very similar gaming performance, there are a series of eBay auctions out there, like this and this and this, where R9 280X cards have sold at prices of $450 or higher. That's well above the $299.99 list price, and most of the eBay listings mention Litecoin mining specifically. All told, that suggests folks are paying more specifically for the Radeons, and not just for gaming.[/quote<] Scott are you really using eBay sales where the seller will do everything to push their price as high as the market can take as proof that "Litecoin mining" is the reason for shortages? That logic seems to be more "tail chasing the dog". How about a more logical conclusion: AMD didn't make enough Hawaii GPUs and that old supply and demand is jacking up prices.

    • Jeff Grant
    • 6 years ago

    Don’t forget that it’s also been really cold this winter for a good portion of North America, and cold weather great for folding or mining, since you’ll run the heat less- especially with electric central heating. This improves a miner’s profits, unlike summer where the AC get’s blasted to cool all that hardware which adds up.

      • Deanjo
      • 6 years ago

      That’s really reaching to justify. As a source of heat, your GPU’s are going to be sorely inefficient.

      (And in the Great White North most homes are using natural gas heating).

        • Jeff Grant
        • 6 years ago

        You’re prob right, it’s just my old ass inefficient house from the 70s. Electric heat and not even a heat pump, but I’m saving my many (real US coins) for one. In the meantime I prefer to fold instead of my wife running her ceramic space heater πŸ™‚

        What I’m hoping comes out of this Litecoin craze is a dump of cheap used Radeons on the market once it’s not efficient or profitable for miners. Just hope the they’re not all burned up to holy hell from overclocked 24hr mining.

        • psuedonymous
        • 6 years ago

        [quote<]As a source of heat, your GPU's are going to be sorely inefficient.[/quote<]As a source of heat, almost any electronic device is close to 100% efficient (certainly any CPU or GPU will be vanishingly close to 100%). For it to be otherwise, the output lines of your GPU would have to be carrying a significant current.

      • SCR250
      • 6 years ago

      So what do you do in the summer when it gets hot?

      Seems like what you state you would save in winter would be lost in summer months when the AC would have to handle that extra heat.

        • Jeff Grant
        • 6 years ago

        I stop folding during the summer months. Texas heat is beat down. I’ll run my AC to game comfortably any day though.

    • Bensam123
    • 6 years ago

    I’d agree with mining increasing demand. I actually considered getting into mining and buying cards myself and I’ve known about coin mining for years, but decided against wasting money doing it. It wouldn’t be so far fetched for people to buy up AMD cards after hearing about the mining bubble. Mining has only really hit mainstream in the last few months, which definitely matches with demand. It’s actually in mainstream news now and normal people know about it, so naturally demand will increase exponentially. Before coin mining was a niche thing with only tech savvy people knowing about it. Most of which are smart enough not to hop on bubbles.

    Unfortunately this put a damper on buying a second 7870 for crossfire this time around. πŸ™

      • WiseInvestor
      • 6 years ago

      Exactly, why waste money and time when you can simply buy and then sell cryptocurrency.

    • Deanjo
    • 6 years ago

    Coin mining has to be biggest waste of computing power ever. Crunching numbers just for the sake of crunching numbers to achieve meaningless results is disturbing to say the least. I could see if they were actually computing items that would yield results that could be useful (such as folding or even seti) then at least that computing power is being put towards something that may yield greater gains for society as a whole.

    What kills me is that many of the miners are the same people that bitched and groaned with their sit-ins and shook their fist at the “man” for not giving back enough and only being in it for the money. Meanwhile these same people are putting extra load on the power system, being very eco-unfriendly, and are doing it just to make a buck without contributing NOTHING of use to others.

    Biggest bunch of hypocrites I ever have seen.

    • Krogoth
    • 6 years ago

    It is because of yielding issues and an unusual demand from morons suckered into the cryptocurrency mania.

    The current cyptocurrency mania is combination of a speculation and a diffuse Ponzi scheme. The early adopters are trying to sucker in new investors/miners to push up the exchange rates and will try to cash out before it crashes. “Bitcoins” had a close call last weekend and it is extremely volatile at the moment.

    The whole thing is so ironic that it hurts. The early adopters are using some of the same tactics that centralized banking systems have been accused of. The raison d’etre for cryptocurrnices is to move away from centralized banking systems who some people feel yield too much power and abuse it.

    The only people laughing to the bank are energy companies. They are getting a nice jump in consumption rates. The kiddies are going to get a stern talk from their landlord, parents or college RA trying to explain a huge increase in the electric bill. They cannot easily use the coins that they had “mined” to pay for the bill either.

      • ptsant
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<] The current cyptocurrency mania is combination of a speculation and a diffuse Ponzi scheme. The early adopters are trying to sucker in new investors/miners to push up the exchange rates and will try to cash out before it crashes. "Bitcoins" had a close call last weekend and it is extremely volatile at the moment. [/quote<] Miners and "investors" are in a completely different situation. Those who bought litecoins obviously want to sell them high and want to advertise them. However, a miner does not want many more miners joining the network. As you probably know, the rate of production of litecoins is constant. If the number of miners is doubled, their income is halved. I do admit that there is a correlation between the number of people mining and the price of litecoins, but the two are not the same thing. Despite all this, a mining rig is not such an absurd investment. With current calculations, a $300 card can pay for itself in less than two months, ie a return of 100% of capital in 60 days. A swiss bank account is probably safer, but gives you 100% of capital (without taxes) in approximately 12775 days, with compounding. A hedge fund at 10% annual return gives you 100% in approximately 2500 days. Finaly, the worst case scenario is that you get left with a bunch of high end GPUs, which will always have some value in the used market (maybe 50%?) or that you can use in a gaming rig. So, best case is quite good, worst case is an excuse for an upgrade... That being said, I would certainly not invest in 20x 7950 as some people have done.

        • Krogoth
        • 6 years ago

        That only makes sense for the early adopters who get all of the “easy” fruit. They are the crowd who are building up most of the hype and trying to get more people on board (via greed, stupidity and/or being too naive). It is not too different from a Ponzi investment scene. It is more of a diffused effort though.

        The biggest problem with cryptocurriences is no major financial institution is willing to accept them as tender (too much risk, it is not tied to futures, hedges, stock etc, not backed by governments, linked to underground/shady groups etc.). The list is continuing to grow as more businesses and people in finance are made aware of their existence and problems. This makes cryptocurriences highly illiquid. At best, they are a digital bartering system that are isolated to themselves.

        Most of the miners and investors who got in the game too late are going to learn the hard way. They will barely break even or just take losts on the whole thing.

        • Bensam123
        • 6 years ago

        Yup… I see it more as a hobby with the fringe benefit of making money and I’m definitely considering buying some GPUs to do so. Even if Bitcoin falls through or Litecoin, there are other currencies. I spent a lot of time the last few days looking into it and it does seem like a pretty safe investment. Not because the currency is safe, but because when everything falls through (if) you still have great hardware to sell off on fleabay.

          • jstern
          • 6 years ago

          If it goes boom, then there’s going to be a lot of high end cards on eBay. It will force sellers to sell them cheap, gamers to buy them cheap.

    • PrincipalSkinner
    • 6 years ago

    TR, please do something like this :
    [url<]http://www.cryptobadger.com/build-your-own-litecoin-mining-rig/[/url<]

      • derFunkenstein
      • 6 years ago

      You want a copycat article for a copycat time/power sink? Sounds legit.

        • PrincipalSkinner
        • 6 years ago

        Yes.

    • PrincipalSkinner
    • 6 years ago

    LTC mining. Nothing else. I’m just waiting for the day when mining results get included into GPU reviews.

    • sschaem
    • 6 years ago

    The 7970 AKA R9-280x often had a sell price for ~$200 on ebay after the 290x release time.
    I saw a few going for ~$190

    If litecoin mining was all the rage, it surely wasn’t just a month ago… Because plenty of tahiti GHZ boards where going for cheap cheap cheap.

    Also, its not like AMD is going to release a R10-390 in January to make any stock of R9-290 obsolete. So if AMD ordered too many boards, they could float the inventory over the next 6 month without fears.

    And then I read this, and this makes no sense.

    ” AMD, another major 28nm chip customer of TSMC, has also slowed down its pace of orders due to a seasonal drop in chip demand for games consoles, the sources said.”

    [url<]http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20131209PD213.html[/url<] Edit: wild.. Even eBay prices for the 2year old 7970 have shoot up 50% in the past 30 days !!! Most of those old cards goes for higher then retail r9-280x msrp... Never seen this before, where you can sell your graphics card for more then you originally bought it for.. Wild time, wild time... Hopefully amd can cash in on this craze before its over and eBay is littered with sub $300 r9-290

      • Firestarter
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<]If litecoin mining was all the rage, it surely wasn't just a month ago...[/quote<] that's because it wasn't: [url<]https://www.litecoinpool.org/charts[/url<] in just a month, the resources dedicated to mining LTC have almost tripled and the price went up ~750%

        • sschaem
        • 6 years ago

        Thanks for providing this chart to backup my general observation.

        The price seem to have stabilized so far at $30, but the difficulty is exponentially going up.
        This make me curious as to when electricity cost will become greater than what you get out of a litecoin…
        And when that happen, are we going to see all those R9 dumped back into the market on ebay ?

        So AMD ramp up production, litecoin mining become absurdly costly, miner dump the cards on ebay to recover cost… Result a flood of cheap R9, and AMD is faced with an inventory nightmare ?

          • Meadows
          • 6 years ago

          Oh boy, you have no idea how markets work, do you.

            • thermistor
            • 6 years ago

            From a high-level quick read, I think he got it just about right.

            What’s your problem?

            • Meadows
            • 6 years ago

            Supply and demand isn’t so clear-cut. It’s not like “card is useful, buy it, card is not useful anymore, sell it”. A GPU has more uses than one and even if the mining cards stop being useful, not 100% of the mining cards will be resold; far from it. There’s no “inventory nightmare” unless AMD misinterprets this “windfall demand” and orders too many cards to be produced.

            • Diplomacy42
            • 6 years ago

            Yes, people are speculating on a commodity (well actually they are speculating on a commodity used in the production of another commodity who’s value is also highly spectulative) and of course its the guy who grows the coffee beans who is really at fault when the global supply gets bought up. In all honesty, how could they not know and plan for the market to be flooded with old supply at a random time dictated by irrational market forces.

            Honestly if AMD doesn’t stop making cards today and just wait for the market to normalize without them, they are fools. who needs rent anyway? Once light-coin settles down, then they can make more R9-290x’s without fear of stupid market forces.

            /sarcasm

            in all seriousness,
            1. AMD produces cards just to meet inflated demand levels
            2. large portion of demand for their cards (25%? 50%?) dries up
            3. Additional supply floods market.

            this is how markets work. this is a bubble, it is unsustainable, it will pop. there is nothing AMD can do about it, except not produce the cards that people want, which would also be stupid.

          • ZGradt
          • 6 years ago

          I’d guess that there are people snapping these cards up, mining litecoins, and then selling the cards on ebay after they’ve paid for themselves. Maybe keeping an Xfire setup when all is said and done. I wish I’d thought of that!

      • Bensam123
      • 6 years ago

      It wasn’t the rage a month ago… you can look at hashrates on crypto networks and see a boom in the last month. Some major media outlet covered it and got the John Does on the train.

      If you have Camelizer installed you can look at the price of this hardware as well: [url<]http://www.amazon.com/ASICMiner-Block-Erupter-Blade-10-7gh/dp/B00FPG1MOW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386997808&sr=8-1&keywords=block+erupter+cube[/url<] It increased 3x in price over the last month, which is because of a lack of supply or a increase in demand... or both. There are plenty of correlations around. As far as the R10... rumors...

    • danny e.
    • 6 years ago

    Yeah, my 14 R290x cards were spitting out litecoins like nobodys business. However, I still wasn’t satisfied.
    So, I cut my cards open to get at the litecoins that were inside faster.

    Then I had to buy 14 new cards.

    So, there’s like 28 cards right there!

    • spuppy
    • 6 years ago

    Trust me it’s mining. There are plenty of people doing this

    [url<]http://i.imgur.com/T5BbvrG.jpg[/url<]

    • tanker27
    • 6 years ago

    Am I glad I pulled the trigger on my R9 280x last week for 299. That being said if anyone wants it for $450 I will gladly sell it! πŸ˜‰

    (BTW if you’re serious about it its the Gigabyte rev2 3GB version.)

    • Neutronbeam
    • 6 years ago

    The shortage and jacked prices are blockading my new build. Have all the components but the GPU, and have decided to wait for this situation–whatever is causing it–to calm down so there are more choices and possibly slightly better prices.

    • bittermann
    • 6 years ago

    OK great, another opinion piece making wild statements against that which is well known. I think we all know what I’m hinting at. All you have to do is go to some of the popular forums and check how many miners are purchasing multiple AMD cards. I’m talking anywhere from 5-30 cards at a crack. Nobody can keep up production when multiple people buy in that kind of quantity. Heck I just sold a 6970 to a miner 2 hours ago on a forum and made a nice little profit. I swear this site is looking more and more for just page hits.

    • the
    • 6 years ago

    I would fathom Ockham’s Razor would apply here: we have had recent highend GPU launches near the holiday season. I would expect that there is pretty high demand as people are buying these for gifts.

    This also turns out to be a rather good time to buy as newer highend cards won’t arrive until TSMC’s 20 nm process is up to speed, roughly 6 months away before they’d reach retail.

    With regards to the Radeon R9 280X specifically, it is just a rebranded Radeon 7970. The issue here is that the Radeon 7970 is still available in a reasonable quantity despite being replaced. Retailers want to get the older model off of the shelves first before stocking the R9 280X variant. The other factor to point out is that the nice $299 price point for the R9 280X is nonexistent as they’re going for the Radeon 7970 price. Looking around I see $330 for out of stock listings with $360 to $400 for spots that’ll have either R9 280X or Radeon 7970 in stock. So while prices haven’t reached MSRP for the R9 280X, they have dropped form the previous MSRP of the Radeon 7970.

    There is one thing that’d point toward the R9 280X being in higher demand than the R9 290X for mining though: the double precision throughput is not capped on the R9 280X here it is reduced on the R9 290X. I’m not familiar enough with these mining applications to say that they utilize double precision computations but it worth noting.

    nVidia reduces the double precision throughput of its Geforce cards where as the Quadro/Tesla cares using the same chip are not. The Titan is the sole exception and has always been in relatively high demand for this reason despite a MSRP of $1000. If double precision is used, it would also explain why Radeon are favored in general.

      • technodoc
      • 6 years ago

      7950s and 7970 are sold out except on eBay where they can be bought for at least a $100 premium over msrp.

      • cal_guy
      • 6 years ago

      The scrypt algorithm used by Litecoin is integer based.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 6 years ago

      I want whoever gifts these things as a friend/family member.

        • JustAnEngineer
        • 6 years ago

        That’d be me.

    • relztes
    • 6 years ago

    Of course it’s Litecoin. It’s about as obvious as it can get. The price of Litecoin spiked around November 26:
    [url<]http://www.ltc-charts.com/period-charts.php?period=1-month&resolution=day&pair=ltc-usd&market=btc-e[/url<] Suddenly, mining became immensely profitable, with payoff periods of about one month. The 7970 and 280X went out of stock very quickly, as Tahiti offers the best Litecoin performance per watt and per dollar. Ebay used prices went sky high. Then the 290 and 290X sold out. Right now, there is only one 280X in stock at Newegg and it is selling for $420 vs. the usual $300. Here is the result in terms of the total Litecoin hash rate: [url<]http://bitcoinwisdom.com/litecoin/difficulty[/url<] It's increased by about 50 GH/s since November 26, which for a hash rate of about 700 kH/s for a 280X corresponds to about 70,000 cards added to the network. Sure, some of that may have been old bitcoin mining rigs that were turned back on or gaming PCs that are now mining, but a substantial amount has to be new cards. Tahiti has been out for almost two years. Selling out of the 290 series because of strong gaming demand is feasible, but selling out of a rebranded two year old card?

    • ptsant
    • 6 years ago

    You are looking at it from the wrong direction. You can’t know where GPUs went. However, I can tell you that the litecoin network has approximately doubled its global computation speed (http://ltc.block-explorer.com/charts and [url<]http://litecoinscout.com/static/)[/url<] in less than 30d. Given that litecoin ASICs/FPGAs don't exist and that CPU performance is laughable (approximately 50k for an APU, max 100k for a Xeon), this capacity most probably comes from GPUs. Now, a casual reading of hardware performance data shows that a Titan yields approx 500k hash/s and a 280X about 750k hash/s. I could go on about hash/w or hash/j/purchase price but I think you get the point.

    • tomc100
    • 6 years ago

    Too bad this litecoin mining doesn’t work with AMD cpu.

    • technodoc
    • 6 years ago

    Long time reader first time poster. This topic has been heavily discussed in the AMD investment community. The definitive article that confirms the increased demand is due to litecoin can be found here: [url<]http://seekingalpha.com/article/1891251-amd-so-how-much-does-the-interest-in-litecoins-matter-for-amd#comments_header.[/url<] Long read but worth it,not only that but even sempron's sales have skyrocketed due to the litecoin mining craze.

      • PrincipalSkinner
      • 6 years ago

      Got 4 7970’s and waiting on a Sempron I never would have bought otherwise.

    • Kougar
    • 6 years ago

    I understand people want Litecoins (or Primecoins) to to work out like Bitcoins did, but honestly do any exchanges exist to convert litecoins into dollars, or accept them for physical goods?

    Bitcoins can buy pizza, online services, and Humble Bundles. But I’d be amazed if any other copycat crytpocurrency manage to pull that off. Currency of any kind is worthless if it can’t be used anywhere.

      • Krogoth
      • 6 years ago

      All of the cryptocurrencies are inherently illiquid. It is only going to get worse as more and more parties are going to move away from them due to being “too risky”. There’s no major financial institution that it is willing to accept cryptocurrenices as tender/exchange. That alone is a big red flag for risk. Currencies are meant to be liquid as much as possible. The miners/adopters are treating cryptocurrenices like a stock exchange and investment.

        • DaveBaumann
        • 6 years ago

        Not sure that’s the case. There are many places where these can be exchanged for currency by virtue of a wire transfer into your bank. Stockpiling enough and selling such that the wire transfer fee is not prohibitive is sensible. While some may hedge a few in case whatever currency they are mining does another Bitcoin in value, I think many are taking the profits now.

        It seems that there are more regional trading exchanges taking Bitcoin in exchange for a wire transfer to your bank, and it just as easy to do on-line trades from your chosen mined currency, convert that to Bitcoins and then cash those out.

        • Diplomacy42
        • 6 years ago

        its not a currency, its a commodity.

          • Krogoth
          • 6 years ago

          It is a currency, but it is being treated like a commodity by manipulators who are trying to make a quick buck on speculation bubble.

          They are trying to spam out the hype before the big inevitable crash comes around.

          It is no different from the silver and gold speculation bubbles back several decades ago. The players back then where mostly financial types rather then average joe and kiddies trying to play the game.

      • Meadows
      • 6 years ago

      There exist exchanges to convert both bitcoin and litecoin to fiat currencies (usually euro or dollar), and moreover, you can exchange bitcoin *for* litecoin, or vice versa.

      Meaning litecoin can also buy you a pizza or earn dollars.

    • moshpit
    • 6 years ago

    Also, you fail to consider that Nvidia cards are NOT part of the mining phenomenon. AMD cards are the big demand for this. Nvidia takes 3 cycles to complete in what AMD can do in 1 for a specific function that mining uses.

    Look through the list on this page. There’s no question of AMD’s dominance of the mining community. [url<]https://litecoin.info/Mining_hardware_comparison[/url<]

    • moshpit
    • 6 years ago

    There are pictures all over reddit of whole pallets of R9 series cards being snagged up by miners. THAT is evidence enough. Debate as you will, I’m a miner, and I’ve seen the craze for these cards.

    • kilkennycat
    • 6 years ago

    Just did a quick availability scan at Newegg ( 11:30AM Thursday Pacific Time).

    The problem seems to be confined to R9 290/290X series… ALL out of stock.

    A few R9 280 models are also out of stock, probably a knock on from the lack of availability of the R9 290 family.

    In the case of nVidia, I only checked eVGA and the only nVidia 700 series cards out of stock out of a Newegg list of 30 are a couple of Superclocked 770s.

    So what is the problem with the R9 290 series?

    Bitcoin Mining…. a few gamblers buying multiple cards… ? Not likely to be a big dent UNLESS the supply of finished 290 product was universally very small to start with, most likely due to rationing of the GPU… the only part with no alternate source. There is no other obvious reason why ALL the board partners would leave themselves short at the peak sales period of the year.

    So, there seems to be a continuing shortage of the 290 GPU. Why?

    Yield ? Maybe AMD computed their order quantities correctly, but the QC yield has turned out to be poor? As we know, this part is pushed very hard at very high temperature (95 degrees C) and timing margins always narrow with temperature.

    Or maybe AMD has traded fab.priorities at TSMC under pressure (er…financial incentive..) from MS and Sony, temporarily cutting the wafer runs of Hawaii.

    Whatever the reason, I am sure that AMD is feeling enormous heat right now from their graphics board partners….

    Poor AMD, limping from one crisis to another….

    One bright area seems to be their console-chip business, but as we all know, historical profits for the chip manufacturers in this area have always been razor-thin.

      • technodoc
      • 6 years ago

      Actually the 7950s and R9280x are the miner’s current cards of choice as they currently have the best kh/watt efficiency and are completely sold out. The 290 is a poor second choice due to higher power requirements

        • Byte Storm
        • 6 years ago

        Actually, it has better efficiency according to some miners.

        [url<]http://holynerdvana.blogspot.com/2013/11/litecoin-mining-with-r9-290-and-r9-290x.html[/url<]

    • mdk77777
    • 6 years ago

    “In the total absence of data, this assertion seems almost laughable. Sure, the scenario has a certain plausibility,”

    Even your original assertion doesn’t make sense. You lay out how difficult it is to predict, and the long lead times required on a very capital intensive and short shelf life product. Then you discount the affect of an unanticipated demand?

    It stands to reason that even a small disruption can have a large impact.

    Sure the gaming application might still be 95% of total sales. But if suddenly you have an additional 5-7% demand for mining…there is just no way to rapidly increase production! If the demand continues, you can easily accommodate it in your future orders, but TODAY, it has an outsized affect on the entire market.

    You layout the argument well, and then promptly discount it?

    • chuckula
    • 6 years ago

    The thing about bubbles is… they burst.
    If this really is a bubble for AMD GPUs, then be prepared for a glut of used cards come Q1-Q2 when Litecoin ASICs show up.

      • smunter6
      • 6 years ago

      The idea behind Litecoin is that it uses scrypt, which is much harder to optimize using specialized hardware. However, I agree with you about this being a bubble right now. The mining difficulty has already doubled in the last two weeks; it will keep going up until the mining profits roughly equal the cost of the power required to mine. People will stop making a profit and get out of the mining business, it’s basic supply and demand.

      • Meadows
      • 6 years ago

      You won’t know it’s a bubble until after the “burst”.

      • Misel
      • 6 years ago

      Well… as a gamer that’s good news, right?

      • Chrispy_
      • 6 years ago

      Tried some LTC mining over the weekend whilst I was away – I made 0.6 litecoin in about 40 hours, roughly $15 or so, and I reckon it cost me half that in electricity.

      At $4/day net profit for two 7970’s, it’d take me several months just to recoup the cost of additional cards, and I hightly doubt the $4/day rate to stay at that level.

        • smunter6
        • 6 years ago

        You can use this calculator to estimate Litecoin mining profits: [url<]https://www.litecoinpool.org/calc.[/url<] The problem is as you said that the difficulty level keeps going up. No telling where it'll be a month from now.

          • Chrispy_
          • 6 years ago

          Heh, if that calc is accurate I’m already losing $6/week and it’ll only get worse πŸ˜‰

          This bubble has already burst and it never even rose to the surface….

        • xeridea
        • 6 years ago

        Historically, mining has had about a 5 months return on investment if buying new cards, and you have free power. Power will cost about 20-40% of profit depending on where you live, and if it is winter or not. It is better than that now, but it will likely return to about the same level in a couple months.

      • Firestarter
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<]when Litecoin ASICs show up[/quote<] - you mean [b<]IF[/b<] they show up

        • chuckula
        • 6 years ago

        No, when (and the when is more accurately put: when in the next several months): [url<]http://www.coindesk.com/asic-miners-litecoin-soon/[/url<]

      • Modivated1
      • 6 years ago

      While The ASIC’s showing up will one up the AMD GPU productivity I hear that the memory needed to mine for litecoins dramatically reduces the advantages of ASIC’s and that are other types of coin mining that Radeon’s will be suited for once chances for mining Litecoin’s become more rare (like Bit-Coin mining) find.

      The key is that most coin miners will already have their hardware from the litecoin buy. New people could become interested in coin mining and that could drive this trend on for a long period.

        • xeridea
        • 6 years ago

        Yeah, SHA-256 requires basically 0 memory, so accelerating it is a lot easier. Litecoin uses the scrypt algorithm, which was designed to resist acceleration. Mining on a 7950 takes about a gig and a half, so to get a massive improvement in hashrate, would require a huge amount of high speed RAM.

        Litecoin price is what causes miner interest (generally, some, like me started mining a while ago). The price of Litecoins was about $2.30 about a month ago, now it is $31, though it spiked to about $47. The network hashrate doubled in the last month, but it can’t increase as fast as price can, as seen with this shortage. Historically, the hashrate will end up such that it takes ~5 months to recoup cost of a new card, or 8 months if you pay for power.

      • ximage21
      • 6 years ago

      Bright Side of News already covered this topic in detail with interviews with a number of retailers and buyers are both gamers and miners!

      [url<]http://www.brightsideofnews.com/news/2013/12/9/cryptocurrencies-are-causing-shortages-of-amd-radeon-gpus.aspx[/url<]

    • albundy
    • 6 years ago

    i could be wrong, but they do it to raise prices and get more profits, and with newly released hardware from the past few years, new silicon has slowly been getting stagnant. so to save on R&D and not push graphics into the next generation, the two companies try to raise demand by lowering the supply to make people falsely think that the tech is still top notch, when in fact they are using the previous gen silicon with tweaks on new model numbers.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 6 years ago

      I think you might be onto something but that’s kind of weird considering that it’s not really a new tech. It’s just more of it on a single GPU die.

      • Meadows
      • 6 years ago

      Lowering supply doesn’t raise demand.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 6 years ago

        no, but it doesn’t shrink demand either. As long as demand outstrips supply you’ll be in this position, even if people want 2 but only 1 was made.

    • 6GTX9
    • 6 years ago

    It’s because of Bit-Coin miners.
    They need to come up with a different card for them, so we can actually game with our GPUs.

    It’s not just the mining community, but who else will buy up multiple AMD cards at such a rate, causing the price to rise up? Most of us are waiting on the non-reference cards to begin with. They usually have better cooling and performance than the base reference cards.

    No one else has more to gain from these GPUs specifically than the Mining community.

    • hubick
    • 6 years ago

    Because all the foundry time is being used to create chips for the new consoles?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 6 years ago

      Now that’s a reasonable possibility. They’re huge 28nm dies. The R9 series is a bunch of huge 28nm dies. Xbox One and PS4 are sold out everywhere I go (at least B&M stores).

        • hubick
        • 6 years ago

        Between MS and Sony they’ve already sold well over 4 million consoles, and I’d expect that number to hit well over 10 million before manufacturing slows. I’d expect the number of new graphics cards sold to pale in comparison (ie, far less than a million).

      • Andrew Lauritzen
      • 6 years ago

      Isn’t global foundries doing the console SoCs while TSMC does pretty much all (all?) the discrete GPUs?

        • the
        • 6 years ago

        According to chipworks, the PS4 SoC is from TSMC:

        [url<]http://www.chipworks.com/en/technical-competitive-analysis/resources/blog/ps4-core-processor/[/url<] And Microsoft has stated themselves that TSMC is the current SoC supplier: [url<]http://www.theregister.co.uk/Print/2013/08/28/xbox_one_system_on_chip/[/url<]

    • PerroLito
    • 6 years ago

    Don’t forget those PS4/XB1 SoCs have to be fabbed somewhere, and in the same node as highend GPUs. I would figure AMD can confortably estimate a very high demand for them.

    • Srsly_Bro
    • 6 years ago

    Nvidia is buying them up so people are forced to buy Nvidia cards! What an evil plan!

    • jjj
    • 6 years ago

    Actually people are quitting mining with GPUs and going with dedicated ASICs.
    AMD might have yield problems and they don’t want to ramp production before yields get better – they delayed the initial launch and that might mean that they just didn’t had enough chips, plus even some good chips might not clock high enough since they pushed them pretty hard.

      • xeridea
      • 6 years ago

      No one mines Bitcoin anymore because there are SHA-256 ASICs. Litecoin uses the scrypt algorithm, which was designed to resist this. Litecoin mining is still almost entirely done on AMD GPUs. It is still theoretically possible to make a Litecoin ASIC, but the cost of development would be higher (more complex algorithm), and the high speed memory requirements would reduce the benefit. Bitcoin ASICs have such high gains because SHA-256 requires basically 0 RAM. Mining on my 7950 takes about a gig and a half.

    • NeelyCam
    • 6 years ago

    It’s because AMD pushed the size down at the expense of yield, and now they can’t get enough working parts.

      • odizzido
      • 6 years ago

      If that’s true, we might see a 285x soon.

      • anotherengineer
      • 6 years ago

      It’s because Neely foreseen litecoin, gddr5 supply and everything else with his crystal ball so he bought 10,000 units and is now marking them up and selling them on ebay πŸ˜‰

        • NeelyCam
        • 6 years ago

        Hey – it’s only business. I’m not doing it to screw any of you over; I’m just doing it to make money

      • shank15217
      • 6 years ago

      haha lets speculate some more

        • NeelyCam
        • 6 years ago

        Let’s

    • smunter6
    • 6 years ago

    Here’s some numbers for you then. Data from litecoinpool.org and litecoin.info. Since Nov. 28, which is about when the price of Litecoin spiked, the total network hashrate has gone from about 45 GH/sec to about 90 GH/s. Given that an average 280X can run about 650-700 kH/s and the 290 runs about 800 kH/s, that’s an increase in installed capacity of about 55,000 290’s. Even if only 10% of that increase is people buying new cards, and the other 90% is people getting started on cards they already own (which I suspect is a conservative estimate) that’s 5,000 new cards being bought right there. Now someone else can do the math to say whether that’s a significant portion of the available supply or not. But I don’t think 5,000 high end cards is insignificant.

      • Damage
      • 6 years ago

      Interesting.

      We don’t get lots of insight into these numbers, but I’m pretty sure the GPU guys usually sell multiple tens of thousands of high-end GPU models in several months after their introduction, even for a fairly expensive, limited-run kind of product.

      • xeridea
      • 6 years ago

      I was just about to do the calculations… Anyway, it should also be noted that Nvidia cards are bad at crypto-mining, they lack some instructions that are crucial to sha-256 and scrypt, so they must be emulated in multiple cycles (a common one takes 3 cycles). Nvidia cards are much better at protein folding though.

      No one mines Bitcoins on GPUs anymore, now that ASICs are prevalent, it is 25x more profitable to mine Litecoin (or other scrypt coin).

      I was thinking of getting some more cheap 7950s to expand mining, they are now impossible to find on newegg, and prices of the 7970 have gone up :(.

        • Meadows
        • 6 years ago

        There is a CUDA miner available for Litecoin that’s more efficient and reduces the gap between AMD and NVidia cards. AMD cards still remain about twice as efficient, though.

      • the
      • 6 years ago

      Going with R9 280X cards, that 45GH/sec figure would be covered by ~63,000 cards considering the given rates. This would also imply that litecoin mining is more single precision bound and/or restricted by memory bandwidth. (Given the differences stated here, I’d suspect memory bandwidth being the bigger factor.)

      If it was double precision bound, I would have thought the R9 280X would only need ~38,000 by looking at the raw floating point throughput compared R9 290X. This of course assumes perfect scaling between the R9 280X and R9 290X.

      Of course that 45 GH/sec figure isn’t going to come exclusively by one type of card but it does place an upper limit to how many cards would need to have been sold in these time frames for the litecoin theory to be a factor.

      • jss21382
      • 6 years ago

      Change your assumption to the last gen cards (7950/70)which are proven and the guides tell you to use which, for most casual users put out 500 kh/s or so and your number jumps from 55k 290’s to almost 90k 7950’s.

    • Arclight
    • 6 years ago

    The comments from the 2004 article…some things never change.

    Off topic, SteamOS will be available for download shortly.

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 6 years ago

      LOL Yup. Krogoth was still unimpressed at everything.

    • zqw
    • 6 years ago

    If it’s a bitcoin goldrush, they should have bought dedicated ASICs for 10-100x perf/$.
    [url<]https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Mining_hardware_comparison[/url<] It's possible they're poorly informed. But, my gut is on gamers too. A new video card is much more compelling than the new consoles so far.

      • Meadows
      • 6 years ago

      No, Litecoin. You can mine that with GPUs.

      • kuraegomon
      • 6 years ago

      This was addressed in another story’s comment section – there is no ASIC that accelerates litecoin mining today. The original poster posited that the AMD R9 series shortages were caused by people purchasing them for litecoin mining. Unfortunately, I can’t recall the original story where this was posted πŸ™

      Note that the first litecoin ASIC is expected in early to mid-2014 (see [url=http://www.coindesk.com/asic-miners-litecoin-soon/<]here[/url<]), so it's possible that speculators may be aggressively trying to exploit a limited window of opportunity.

    • chuckula
    • 6 years ago

    [quote<]Through a combination of data-driven projections and gut-feel guesswork, companies like AMD and Nvidia have to place their orders for wafers of GPU chips months in advance of when they'll be selling. If they order too many chips, the company can be stuck carrying millions worth of inventory that's inevitably declining in value by the day. Order too few, and you'll see shortages, rising prices, andβ€”perhaps worst of allβ€”the ceding of market share to your rival firm, if they happened to make a better guess about the demand picture.[/quote<] This is the major reason: AMD didn't want to get burned (again) with oversupply of parts that can't sell. I think the Litecoin fad is a contributing factor, but it is more like the straw that broke the camel's back rather than the sole difference between a supply glut and a supply shortage.

      • Modivated1
      • 6 years ago

      I think it’s a little more than a straw that broke the camel’s back. Reports are saying that people who order these cards are doing so in 3’s so the can run triple crossfire configs. They also report additional board and low end cpu (3 year old Sempron’s) sales for AMD.

      This will add quite a bonus on AMD’s quarterly sales.

      • ximage21
      • 6 years ago

      Sorry, but some people’s fortune telling says more about wacky imaginations than reality.

      Majority of Litecoin ASIC companies are either frauds that know the return on investment of such product is underwater or questionable or familiar underhanded attempts at instigating FUD by a certain Green hued company to dissuade millions of users around the world from engaging in crypto currency mining on AMD GPUs

      AMD also has Mantle graphics acceleration software and a whole range of mobile/desktop/embedded Kaveris with powerful GCN graphics, Beema and Mullins APUs that will boost demand even higher for their products in the next 10 to 30 days and all through 2014.

    • jdaven
    • 6 years ago

    GPUs are the most powerful consumer chips one can buy right now. So it is possible that other forces beyond gaming are at work here. Some of that might border on black helicopters in the sky type conspiracy theories.

    Another possibility is limited fab capacity. There are only four major fab companies right now: Samsung, GloFo, TSMC and Intel. For now, Intel is only Intel (although that might change soon), Samsung seems to be only making SoCs, SSDs, etc. That leaves GloFo and TSMC. Does anyone know if GloFo is making GPUs yet?

      • Misel
      • 6 years ago

      UMC still exists but it’s been a while that they produced high-end GPUs.

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