Cryptocurrencies are blisteringly hot right now. Bitcoin just crossed the $US3,500 mark for the first time and is up 493.38% over the last year.
The meteoric rise of cryptocurrencies has been a boost to several chip makers. Nvidia and AMD are the two largest manufacturers producing graphics processing units that cryptocurrency users take advantage of to speed up the network.
GPUs from both AMD and Nvidia have been sold out in many places as demand for the cards has skyrocketed with the value of bitcoin.
Even though the currencies have provided a boost to both companies, the CEOs running Nvidia and AMD have very different views of how to approach the “miners” hungry for their technology.
On Nvidia’s latest earnings call, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang responded to a question about the company’s plan to address cryptocurrencies by saying they are “here to stay.”
“The market need for it is going to grow, and over time it will become quite large. It is very clear that new currencies will come to market, and it’s very clear that the GPU is just fantastic at cryptography,” Huang said. “Our strategy is to stay very, very close to the market. We understand its dynamics really well.”
Nvidia has released several GPUs dedicated to cryptocurrency mining recently. The chips are optimised for lower power consumption and faster processing speeds for the type of maths specific to mining.
This runs contrary to AMD’s strategy. AMD’s CEO, Lisa Su, said bitcoin and its competing currencies won’t be a “long-term growth driver” for the company.
“Relative to cryptocurrency, we have seen some elevated demand,” Su said. “But it’s important to say we didn’t have cryptocurrency in our forecast, and we’re not looking at it as a long-term growth driver. But we’ll certainly continue to watch the developments around the blockchain technologies as they go forward.”
Since Su’s comments on July 25, bitcoin saw a surprise “fork” of its software, introducing a new version of the cryptocurrency called bitcoin cash alongside the original bitcoin. The price of a bitcoin is up 38.44%, or about $US1,000, to $US3556.16 since the split. Gains are even higher if you consider the additional value all users of bitcoin were able to receive from bitcoin cash as a result of the split.
Su says AMD’s plans don’t extend beyond refilling supply channels to make up for added demand. The company will continue to focus on its core PC gaming market.
AMD is up 7.29% this year, and Nvidia is up 51.69%.
Get the latest Bitcoin price here.
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