The battle for high-powered silicon between the video-gaming and cryptocurrency worlds spilled into the open on Tuesday, as chipmaker Nvidia intervened to prevent its most popular graphics cards being used for crypto mining.
The move was designed to ease an acute shortage facing video gamers and highlights the booming demand from cryptocurrency enthusiasts as prices spiked this year.
Nvidia said it was deliberately limiting the capabilities of its most popular video gaming cards to make them less useful for performing the calculations needed to validate transactions on the ethereum network.
Known as mining, this involves solving a complex problem in return for fractions of a token — something that has become increasingly attractive as prices of ether, the tokens used on the network, have soared.
Nvidia’s graphics processing units, or GPUs, were first designed to handle the demands of rendering video images in real time, a challenge given the large amount of data that needs to be processed simultaneously. The same technology has since been adapted to become the workhouse of artificial intelligence, one of the most data-intensive computing tasks, as well as crypto mining.