As the price of Bitcoin and Ethereum continue to explode, miners of cryptocurrency have found themselves in a Cold War style technological arms race to outdo the other side.
In this latest round of cryptocurrency competition, the weapons used are the latest graphics processors from AMD, and at the centre of the new battle is the world’s second largest cryptocurrency (real money wise), Ethereum. The price of the Ethereum currency, Ether, has grown from $10 in February to a market high of $400 in June.
Ethereum miners are paying ridiculous sums of money to increase the processing power of their mining operation, and according to one source have even resorted to hiring Boeing 747s to fly the AMD graphics cards to their locations to get a jump on their rivals, as quickly as possible.
Marco Streng, chief executive of Genesis Mining, (a major Ethereum miner) told quartz that his company had leased a 747 specifically for that purpose. In the Ethereum mining community, not having the latest and most powerful processors means a substantial loss of revenue
“You risk the opportunity to mine for the days you are delayed,” Streng told Quartz. “we are renting entire airplanes, Boeing 747s, to ship on time. Anything else, like shipping by sea, loses so much opportunity… If you are deploying 10 days later, you are losing 10 days of mining — that is the cost… Time is critical, very critical,” he concluded.
Just like Bitcoin, back in the day. (2013)
Ethereum is just the latest cryptocurrency that markets have gone crazy for. A similar rush happened four years ago with Bitcoin. The average cost of a mining rig that could sustainably mine bitcoins then cost around $10,000. Less than five years later, that same setup is effectively nothing more than junk in the eyes of miners.
Part of the rush for Ethereum is just how readily available it is and the potential for huge profits. While there is currently money to be made from Ether, miners are hoping that it too will one-day trade at the $3,400 price bitcoin. Ether is currently trading at around $240, at the time of writing.