If you’ve wanted to buy a consumer GPU these past few months, you’ve had nothing but tough choices to make. Current high-end cards from AMD and Nvidia are badly overpriced thanks to ongoing pressure from the cryptocurrency market. It’s a complex situation with a lot of moving parts, but the PC market, generally speaking, isn’t used to these kinds of shortages. There’s news that Nvidia is prepping some crypto-focused cards that could take pressure off the mainstream market — but it’s only going to work if the market remains relatively tame.
The specs on the Inno3D P102-100 units, according to Cryptomining-blog, are as follows:
- CUDA Cores: 3200
- Base Clock: 1582 MHz
- Memory Clock: 11 Gbps
- Physical Memory Size: 5 GB
- Memory Type: GDDR5X
- Memory Interface Width: 320-bit
- Memory Bandwidth: 400 GB/s
- Bus Support: PCIe Gen1 x4
- Card Size: 21.5 cm length, 12.5 cm height, dual slot
- Max TDP: 250 Watt
- Power Connectors: 2x 8-pin PCI-E
Since the blog mentions a PCIe Gen 1 x4 bus connection and that’s rather clearly not an x4 bus above, presumably the card is designed to be an x4 electrical connection rather than an x16 (there’s no problem with doing this on PCIe). The GP102 chip, by the way, corresponds with the GTX 1080 Ti, albeit a trimmed configuration of 3,200 CUDA cores instead of 3,584 cores.
As for why we aren’t all that bullish on new cryptocurrency cards relieving pressure on the market, it’s simple: The only way these cards can relieve the consumer space is if demand for them doesn’t outstrip supply. And the only way that happens is if cryptocurrency prices remain stable enough that people stop stripping the market like locusts in a farm field.
“Look at these amazing prices,” said no one, ever.
The situation doesn’t really get better in a hypothetical where we imagine a new Nvidia consumer launch. In fact, it could snarl it worse. (AMD is excepted from this scenario only because, with Vega still relatively new, its next high-end replacement cycle is farther away.) Even a hypothetical situation in which Nvidia was willing to sell its top-end silicon for less money than a full-fledged gaming GPU when in this configuration doesn’t automatically help — if demand is high enough, miners will guzzle up the cheap cards, then gleefully binge on the expensive models. And because Nvidia can’t afford to simply sell top-end GPUs for rock-bottom prices, it’s not going to spend a huge amount of time kicking out GP102 chips just so people can have affordable GTX 1060s or 1070s.
But if Nvidia does bring crypto-focused GPUs to the table, we can at least hope for an improvement to the status quo, and a bit of time when affordable GPUs are at least closer to availability than they generally are these days — assuming, of course, that the crypto market doesn’t just curl up and die. If I sound a little grumpy about this problem, it’s because I am a bit grumpy about it. I’d vastly prefer this was a question of CPUs rather than GPUs, because CPUs age more slowly in general and definitely where gaming is considered. A Core i7-2600K can still turn in good gaming frame rates today — certainly higher frame rates than you’ll see with a GPU from early 2011. Then again, we’re already recommending people potentially consider a GPU from 2012 as an alternative to a modern card, so by this point in 2019 I might be back to recommending digging out an EVGA card and NEC MultiSync II monitor. Have you considered the gaming potential of an 8-bit Atari computer? There’s a world of possibility out there!
Ok, I exaggerate. Slightly. Here’s hoping our mutual hobby gets a bit more affordable as a result of this.