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When Nvidia’s GTC conference kicks off this week, the sessions will be filled with some typical discussions on topics such as CUDA architecture, data-centric AI or simulating quantum computers. In the background, however, there will be more whispers about highly non-technical areas such as central banks, supply chain tensions, stagnant inflation and aggression. A few years ago when the only chatter about guns was about virtual models in the latest first person shooter.
Chips, once seen only by gamers and AI scientists, are now key components in many essential parts of the economy. The GPU is the best-selling top profile circuit and is now a kind of flagship for the entire industry. When they are hard to find or the price goes up, everyone pays attention.
Effects can be seen browsing through the shelves. For more than a year now, gamers have been complaining loudly about how difficult it is to find a GPU card, creating videos full of bitter humor. On Twitter, many curse GPU scalpers And GPU shortage,
Why GPU doesn’t rain
Some suggest the drought is easing, if only because the stores are not completely empty. However, many of the listings for Nvidia graphics cards on Amazon at this writing include a few notes in the red warning that only a few remain in stock. Other sellers like CDW have many cards listed as backorder for 4-6 weeks. Currently, the prices used on cards like the RTX 3070 are often a few dollars lower than the new list price.
If the problem were limited to gamers who had to wait a little longer to explore the vast virtual world at 60 Hz, that would be one thing. But the shortage is affecting many other industries. Car manufacturers can’t get all the chips needed to make the latest model and the prices of anything that rolls are skyrocketing. In March 2022, the Mannheim Used Car Index was up 22% from a year earlier.
The supply shocks cascade through the economy. If workers cannot afford cars, they cannot reach jobs. If they can’t get to work, the assembly lines will be closed. Prices rise as supply cannot keep up with demand. And the process is repetitive and repetitive in that no one wants to turn into an endless loop that makes the economy a brick.
“The chip shortage isn’t getting better and it won’t last for a few years,” said Meribel Lopez, an analyst at Lopez Research. “Processing power is going to increase so much that we will need to drive certain things like driving metawars or guiding autonomous cars. The GPU cycle is in tremendous demand and it goes far beyond its ability to supply.”
Inflation is one of the many GPU-related issues raising global stress levels. Part of the reason why demand for GPUs has soared is that some cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, offer first-hand prizes for solving useless mathematical puzzles. Nvidia’s GPUs are some of the fastest options for finding solutions and so any bump in Bitcoin, Ethereum or a number of other cryptocurrencies leads to an increase in GPU demand.
This so-called proof-of-work can be better described as proof-of-waste-energy, though, and many are wondering if it means putting so much gels into what was supposed to be a low-cost, non-friction-free society. Debt settlement means. Environmentalists point to the carbon footprint and anyone who wants to compete for electricity, say, needs to pay more for cooking or heating a home.
For its part, Nvidia has tried to limit these side effects. Some of their newer models have been tweaked to dramatically slow down for cryptocurrency applications but are still fairly zippy for gamers or AI researchers. Hackers, however, find vulnerabilities and find it difficult to keep market forces at bay, especially when GPUs are designed to be easily reprogrammed.
Does COVID-19 drive GPU values?
The second is the future of the COVID-19 epidemic and the world’s response to it. Some have wondered how much the epidemic has increased the price of GPUs. More parents and children working and learning remotely means more purchases of PCs and laptops. If the world goes back to the office, will the demand go down? Or is this a new pattern for GPU demand?
The recent outbreak of a new type of COVID is also plaguing the electronics industry and shutting down factories in Shenzhen. Apple’s main supplier, Foxxconn, shut down some assembly lines on April 14. Will the same precaution affect the GPU supply? No one can be certain.
One difficult issue is what could happen to the Taiwan Semiconductor Company (TSMC), the world’s leading chip maker that produces some of Nvidia’s best chips, if a shooting war breaks out between China and Taiwan. Just a few months ago, no one imagined that such a war could begin, but then a few months ago some people believed that Russia would send a wave of tanks to invade Ukraine.
The real battle bursting through the Proscenium wall creates a little obstacle mismatch for the gaming community. While the industry has long devoted an impressive level of attention to recreating even the smallest details to recreate the feeling of combat, it is somewhat different when it comes to real tanks and real AK-47s.
With titles like “Call of Duty WWII”, players are, of course, well-educated about patrol-level tactics in the Ardennes forest. The game’s Shadow War DLC Pack 4 sends the user on a mission to “unravel the secrets of the classified Axis Weapons Facility”, but this does not prepare them to find a way to save the fab lines that make up the chips. They were in love.
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