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25% of the GPUs sold in the first part of 2021 went to crypto miners

Cryptocurrency mining was a major driving force of add-in board (AIB) graphics card sales in 2020, and that trend is continuing in 2021. A new report from Jon Peddie Research (JPR) says that miners purchased around 700,000 high-end and midrange cards in the first quarter of the year, totaling a market value of around half a billion dollars.

JPR calculated the number of cards sold by using the trending attach rate of graphics cards and the actual attach rate of graphics cards. With data showing a clear spike in 2017 and 2018 — when the previous crypto boom happened — this model can tease out a fairly accurate estimate of how many graphics cards miners are purchasing. In Q1 2021, the trending attach rate was around 30%, while the actual attach rate was above 45%. Given the model, JPR predicts around 25% of all GPUs sold in Q1 2021 went to miners.

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Graph of trending and actual GPU attach rate in Q1 2021.

It’s important to clarify that the model doesn’t take into account “casual” miners. According to JPR, the model doesn’t include gamers or other users who may use a graphics card for mining on the side. The attach rate method, instead, looks at the number of graphics card sales that didn’t go inside a traditional PC and were instead used as part of a dedicated mining rig.

JPR points out Nvidia’s dedicated CMP crypto-mining cards and the Lite Hash Rate (LHR) GPU featured on new RTX 30-series graphics cards as way to lower demand and protect the company from “another 2018-style crash.” Last week, JPR released a report showcasing the growth in GPU sales in Q1 2021 and warned chip suppliers of a potential market crash. Nvidia’s efforts could help avoid a stock crash similar to the one the company experienced in 2018.

The report contrasts Nvidia’s approach with AMD, which hasn’t taken any specific steps to combat cryptocurrency mining demand. Although AMD’s stock crashed in 2018, it didn’t crash as far as Nvidia’s. With a thriving CPU business that’s separate from any crypto mining, AMD doesn’t seem concerned with its stock price should the market crash.

Regardless, it’s clear that cryptocurrency miners are still a major driving force of GPU sales and demand. Nvidia recently bolstered production of RTX 30-series cards, likely in response to the falling prices of popular coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum. It remains to be seen, however, if demand from miners will drop throughout the rest of the year.

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