hardware

Nvidia’s Plan for Weathering the Global Chip Shortage

For Nvidia, it’s in with the old, out with the new
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Nvidia

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We’ve seen the law of supply and demand play out in a big way during Covid-19—from TP and Clorox wipes to those viral leggings from TikTok.

Now, it’s giving Nvidia a run for its money.

Inventory issues

Thanks to the great semiconductor shortage, all of Nvidia’s newest chips have been instant sellouts for months—and each unit’s resale price has been inflated by hundreds of dollars (in some cases, by more than 300%).

The company’s got a few duct-tape fixes up its sleeve:

In with the old: To help satisfy demand, Nvidia is releasing stock of older, lower-end GPUs to partners that can use them to supplement new hardware.

Out with the new: It’s also intentionally limiting the capabilities of its new, gamer-focused RTX 3060 graphics cards. Since users can typically program Nvidia’s GPUs according to their preferences, and the RTX 3060 can be tweaked to mine ethereum, crypto’s recent spike has led to even higher demand for the GPUs.

  • Nvidia’s fix: New drivers for the GPUs, with software detection to inhibit crypto mining, and a brand-new product for ethereum miners: the Cryptocurrency Mining Processor (CMP).
  • This way gamers can game, miners can mine, and, according to Nvidia, the uptick in crypto mining “[won’t] impact the availability of GeForce GPUs to gamers.”

Are we there yet?

For months, the semi shortage has had the tech sector—from automakers to smartphone manufacturers—reeling. Chipmakers everywhere are brainstorming solutions, like TSMC’s decision to fast-track chips for use in vehicles.

Looking ahead: Nvidia says inventory should “remain lean” through Q1—which, for the company, means the end of April. Other leaders in the space back up the timeline of the semi shortage continuing through H1 2021.

Look out for more creative solves from chipmakers everywhere.

Stay up to date on emerging tech

Drones, automation, AI, and more. The technologies that will shape the future of business, all in one newsletter.