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Smugglers transported 300 GPUs in a Mission Impossible-style speed boat chase

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The GPU market has been in a tailspin over the last several months, and now, the coveted cards are showing up in the hands of Chinese smugglers. TVP News reports that the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department intercepted a fishing boat outside of Hong Kong International Airport, busting a smuggling ring that was transporting up to 300 Nvidia CMP 30HX graphics cards.

In a scene ripped straight from Mission Impossible, Hong Kong authorities chased the group of smugglers in a speed boat in the early hours of the morning. Although the smugglers got away, the owner of the boat loaded with goods did not. Among typical fodder for smugglers, including exotic foods, skincare products, and smartphones, the Hong Kong authorities seized 300 unmarked graphics cards in the 2 a.m. raid.

The cards appear to be Nvidia’s Cryptocurrency Mining Processor (CMP), or more specifically, the CMP 30HX. The 30HX is the lowest of the range, with an advertised Ethereum hash rate of 26 MH/s. Although the CMP 30HX isn’t available in the U.S., it has been spotted for $723 at a retailer in Dubai. That’s $219,600 worth of graphics cards.

For some context, a GTX 980 and a GTX 1660 both have a higher Ethereum hash rate. These cards shouldn’t be more than $200, but both are commonly selling above the $500 mark on secondhand markets.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s clear that gamers and enthusiasts weren’t the target of the smuggling operation. Without any video outputs, the CMP 30HX is good for cryptocurrency mining and nothing else. Perhaps the mining market is larger than most expect, or maybe consumer GPUs just aren’t available to smuggle. Regardless, one thing remains clear: GPU demand is at an all-time high.

The smugglers were clued into other shifts in the world of tech, too. Along with a tear-jerking number of graphics cards, Hong Kong officials seized several kits of system RAM, likely in preparation for DRAM price increases coming down the pike.

The owner of the ship was detained by authorities, but the other smugglers made off to mainland China. As for the cards, they’ll likely live in a cold evidence room, much to the dismay of anyone looking for a little GPU horsepower.

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Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
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