After the merger, dejected former Ethereum miners are finding new uses for their rusty GPUs, like heating their homes.
Imagine this: You work as an Ethereum miner, and your typical day has been the same for almost ten years:
you wake up to the sound of industrial wheezing in your backyard,
eat a hastily prepared breakfast of heavily contaminated Cinnamon Crunch,
take an asthmatic jog around the polluted freshwater lake,
and then return to the garage where the machines are kept so that you can attend to their mysterious
whims in case they refuse to pay you with valuable Ethereum.
You have amassed a significant amount of wealth as a result of continuing in this manner for many years,
but you are painfully aware that oblivion will eventually arrive as
it was planned by some nasty geeks somewhere around Haight-Ashbury.
When the merge eventually occurs, as earlier this month, your entire world of mining Ethereum gets upended and quickly vanishes.
A practical query looms large, putting aside other metaphysical puzzles:
what can you do with a shed’s worth of expensive GPUs?
Beyond mining, computer graphics processors may help with a tonne of intriguing tasks,
such as high-speed password cracking, protein folding for cancer research,
and, of course, the quest for extraterrestrial life. (With coins!)
What else can you use them for, though?
Can you create a super-fast graphics unit to improve the realism of your “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” runs at night?
Can you create an artificial heart before the inevitable heart attack occurs?
Can you use them to heat your filthy home in time for Putin’s winter?
Strangely enough, yes—I’ve heard from a number of former miners who say they are doing just that.
One miner told me that he intended to utilise his outdated, power-hungry GPUs to heat his home. He goes by the handle Alphamine, which is probably not his real identity.
For the time being, he continues to mine, although for a tiny, largely profitless coin called FLUX, out of a pure passion for supporting the crypto ecosystem.
He told me that he is only making 10% of the profit he made on Ethereum,
but he intends to cover his expenses by heating his home with about 80 GeForce RTX 3060 Ti GPUs.
Another miner who goes under the name “stepwn”
likewise uses outdated mining equipment to heat his greenhouse rather than his residence.
He declared, “I’ve changed from mining to farming.”
He claims he now has a “full-blown aquaponics system inside a 200-square-foot greenhouse”
after beginning with a few minor “no-till” plots in his yard.
He continued, “Mining taught me that if I have the proper equipment in the right circumstances,
I can create passive income,
and growing items is just using the correct equipment to keep the right conditions for plants.”
Okra, tomatoes, beans,
and peas are the crops that I have found to perform best for me after much trial and error.
Monero (XMR), not ETH chips, are used to heat the greenhouse. For the ETH chips, he has another plan in mind: a “PC gaming bar.”
Of course, GPUs have other fascinating applications.
The co-founder of Luxor, a significant mining pool that combined the efforts of mining customers and shared winnings among them,
is Nick Hansen (likely his birth name).
The merger eliminated a particularly attractive cash stream for Hansen.
Hansen’s main focus is finding new uses for his clients’ hardware.
(He told me that a third of them have already turned off their GPUs.) One viable option is to run huge neural networks,
AI data centres, and digital rendering farms with spare GPUs. We’ll probably be able to make up for our losses, Hansen said.
If you didn’t already know, you hypocrite!, the DALL-E AI image generator requires an absurd amount of computational power.
In this situation, the GPUs would direct their crazy watts into intricate and energy-intensive tasks like these.
This somewhat disproves Hansen’s claim that the merger will significantly cut GPU electricity consumption. He declared,
“Those GPUs aren’t going to vanish by themselves.” They’ll be put to other uses, says the speaker.
The idea that the merging will cause a widespread exodus of miners,
feeding and empowering the Artificial General Intelligence that will eventually reduce humans to the size of paperclips, is actually rather beautiful.
It is unclear if that would be better for the environment.