Where are all the GPU's?
The hot topic at the moment is the shortage of graphics cards and when are we going to get them. New GPU's such as the RTX 3000 series from Nvidia and the 6000 series range from AMD are almost impossible to find at the moment. There are a lot of factors involved and this guide will cover everything you need to know and answer all your questions.
Let's start with who these people are, these people are the scourge of society and gave been around for years mainly attacking ticketing markets for concerts and festivals. In later years it became common place for gaming consoles to become the latest target for scalpers as there is always a finite amount available upon release and demand always outstrips the supply, so if your lucky enough to get one by waiting all night in a queue the its a guarantee that someone out there will buy it off you for more money than you paid for it, so this creates an opportunity for just about anyone to make money. Some of your more reputable retailers have measures in place to counter this such as 'one per customer'.
Then the scalpers sight's shifted towards graphics cards such as the RTX 3000 series from Nvidia which was inevitably going to be released in short supply which creates a demand and that demand is the incentive for the scalper to buy as many as they can and sell for a significant mark up, there's also nothing to stop them mining with that card before they sell it for a crippling profit but more on this later in the article, coupled with this shortage and the incredible hype create by the new cards themselves these cards started popping up on varios online market places and the prices were incredible but what was more incredible is that computer nerds wit deep pocket were still buying them.
The scalpers have raked in an estimated $61.5 million in sales and sold almost 50,000 cards through many websites such as ebay. As you can see from the graph scalpers have added a minimum of 200 dollars to the prices. The prize possession of the 3000 series is the 3090, the holy grail of GPU's these bad boys are about 1,200 dollars new and on ebay for any were up to 3000 dollars. These guys are one of the biggest reason for shortages helped primarily by using bots to source and buy the cards but we'll find out more about bots in our next topic.
This is what a bot looks like, a bot is simply a computer program written exclusively to scan multiple websites to find and buy a product quicker than you can refresh the page.
Thankfully the gaming community decided to combat the bots, if you were to search sites like ebay or Craigslist you will almost certainly find "Jpg" versions, jpeg is just the name used for an image file so the clue is kind of in the name, these may appear to be normal graphics cards up for sale but they are not if you read the description closely or see jpg version printed anywhere then this is simply a photograph of a card not an actual card but the bot doesn't recognise this and buys it anyway causing the scalper to waste money. I've also seen with my own eyes, retailers cleverly placing their limited stock of cards in obscure categories or labelling them as '3D printers' to fool bots.
This is not the first time that mining Cryptocurrency with high powered GPU's has brought the PC gaming industry to it's knees, this actually happened back in 2017 with the mining craze causing prices to almost double. The Bitcoin price had dropped and the incredibly high hash rates that could be achieved from a modern graphics card led to people mining. Because of this both bedrooms, garages and warehouses full of cards started showing up everywhere with even large corporations getting involved too.
So that was in 2017 and since then the popularity and profitability of mining had started to dwindle but here we are again but on a bigger scale. This time around the coin of choice is Ethereum and it's profitability is showing no signs of dropping and as the cryptocurrency industry starts to gain a foothold again it seems like miners are going to be around for the foreseeable future.
As you can see by the drastic up trend of bitcoin and the profitability of similar emerging cryptocurrencies, it's easy to see why people would want to get onboard.
Shortage of silicon:
Another reason that consumers are facing massive price hikes and crippling shortages is due to the global shortage of semi conductors, this has been going on for around a year due to the increasing demand for them as they operate as the brain for most modern day technologies, anything from mobile phones, televisions cars and more importantly GPU's and gaming consoles. This situation was made worse like by the covid outbreak and subsequent restrictions and lockdowns, causing almost every part of the manufacturing chain from the silicon mines to the actual factories where they are made.
We now live in a world were technological advancements are moving at the speed of light and trillion dollar tech firms, the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Sony and Ford all purchase billions of dollars worth of these precious semi-conductors to act as the brain for almost all of their products.
Well this is a no brainer...
When the Corona virus first struck and lockdowns happened globally and factories had to close and stop production halting the progress made. As well as manufacturing and production, logistics between different countries became even harder with lorries getting stuck and ships being halted. It also meant that we were all suddenly spending more time at home and the gaming industry as a whole.
The Suez Canal is one of the worlds biggest shipping lanes and most goods imported from China including graphics cards and gaming consoles come through this as it's the quickest and safest route.
The Evergreen ran aground in the Suez Canal on March 23 while hauling around 18,000 containers, which is just your average journey from Asia to Europe. It took almost a week for the ship to be freed with a combination of earth mover to widen the banks and up to 20 tugboats strategically placed to move the giant vessel, whilst the canal was blocked it caused a queue of around 100 ships and caused many others to divert course around the bay of good hope potentially adding an extra 15 days to the journey.
Getting cargo on a container on a vessel is now harder than ever because of the shut down there are that many companies like Apple and Samsung desperately trying to secure a spot. Before covid it was 1500 for a 20-foot container on a ship and now its gone up to 15k to get the same container, this invariably means that the cost is yet again passed onto the retailer.
Even though the vessel was eventually freed it now remains in a holding area in a side canal while the Suez Canal Authorities and Japanese based Ship owners battle it out in court for around $900 million in expenses including the cost of salvage and other damages.
When will GPU's be available?
Truth is no one knows, there are rumours for July but like any rumour take it with a pinch of salt. Keep checking online with popular retailers or even pre-order wherever possible and don't forget live stock checkers. The latest from Nvidia themselves is that demand is likely to outstrip supply for most of 2021.
As I have explained there are many different factors which contribute to such a severe lack of available graphics cards. So finding the all new 3060ti with ray tracing tech is gonna be tricky, I'm not gonna lie but its not impossible, find yourself a stock checker and have your money ready to buy and be ready to jump into action the moment the bell rings. You will be competing with scalpers and bots so its gonna be tricky to get a card.
Or of course you can play the waiting game and wait it out until covid eases and the world gets back to normal again. The worst thing you can do at the minute is buy one from a scalper at two or three times the retail value because if the scalpers keep making so much money then why would they ever stop?