Home Computer graphics The Ethereum merger actually happened – and just in time to spare the Nvidia RTX 4090

The Ethereum merger actually happened – and just in time to spare the Nvidia RTX 4090

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The long-awaited “merger” event for the Ethereum blockchain is finally happening, and it’s a great day for all gamers looking to get the next-gen Nvidia Lovelace graphics cards (such as the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090) that we anticipate in the coming weeks.

Ethereum is the second largest cryptocurrency in the world after Bitcoin, and it has been particularly troublesome for PC gamers. Cryptocurrency is mined using what is known as “proof of work”, which requires a computer to solve an unsolvable mathematical problem in order to generate a token.

This problem becomes exponentially more difficult as time passes by design, requiring increasingly powerful computers to solve the problem. The solution proposed by Ethereum miners was to take the best graphics cards on the market over the past two years and use them in mining operations large and small.

Demand for Nvidia Ampere graphics cards in particular was always going to be high after their launch at the end of 2020, but in fact finding one in stock has been near impossible for the past two years as resellers have used bots to buy stocks to resell at inflated prices.

Cryptominers, who were there for Ethereum, apparently agreed to buy these graphics cards at inflated prices, which only fueled the shortage of graphics cards. Even the best cheap graphics cards weren’t spared, as five- and six-year-old cards disappeared from store shelves to create a crypto bubble.

Meanwhile, all of this has turned math into carbon emissions at a frightening rate, and cryptocurrency mining now uses as much energy as a small industrialized country in Europe. This prompted Ethereum to switch to proof-of-stake, which uses a different system to validate transactions from the blockchain that doesn’t require wading through algorithms for years.

This is the so-called merger that happened on September 15, and Ethereum is now out of the proof-of-work model. Former Ethereum miners who dumped tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars into GPU mining operations are now looking for other proof-of-work coins to mine instead, including a hard-forking of the Ethereum blockchain into a totally different cryptocurrency called Ethereum Proof of Work, according to Coindesk (opens in a new tab)or ETHW.

Meanwhile, Bitcoin – which primarily uses specialized ASICs to mine this cryptocurrency – will continue to buzz as usual and has no plans to transition to the new proof-of-stake system.


Analysis: Will the merger save Nvidia’s Lovelace launch?

Rendering Nvidia graphics card

(Image credit: Nvidia)

The timing of the Ethereum merger couldn’t have come at a better time for PC gamers. In less than a week, we expect the announcement of the Nvidia RTX 4090 and possibly the Nvidia RTX 4080 as well, and these cards will always be ripe targets for cryptominers looking to increase their hashrates.

But aside from Ethereum and Bitcoin, there are simply no other coins that could attract large-scale miners, and the proof, so to speak, has been the drop in graphics card prices and the rise stocks. If proof of work had a real future, these cards would still be purchased as before.

Now things could change, obviously, and another NFT or decentralized finance project could bloom like tulips on a Dutch shore and drive the next bubble, but with our current economic environment, inflation and an energy crisis, it is unlikely to happen in the near future. This eliminates a major buyer from the graphics card market for the next generation of graphics cards, so even if these cards sell out immediately, gamers have a much better chance of getting one this time around.