New Cryptocurrency could cause HDD and SSD Shortages

Chia, a new eco-friendly cryptocurrency, is predicted to lead to a shortage of hard drives and solid-state drives based on current sales patterns in Asia.

In recent years, the proliferation of crypto miners has led to a shortage in graphics cards. Skyrocketing cryptocurrency prices have been bad news for anyone looking to purchase a new GPU. Following relatively stable prices during the first nine months of 2020, from October the price of Bitcoin started to massively increase, with December surpassing the previous record of $20,000; January 2021 saw Bitcoin hit $35,000. It isn’t just Bitcoin hat has contributed to the GPU shortage either – the Ethereum cryptocurrency doubled from under $200 in early 2020 to over $400 by mid-2020, and over $1,000 by early 2021.

As climate change becomes more of a hot topic in recent months, concerns have arisen regarding the environmental impact of cryptocurrency like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Mining for cryptocurrency is power-hungry, and involves heavy computer calculations to verify transactions. Research has suggested that Bitcoin consumes around 121.36 terawatt-hours, more than entire countries. As prices rise, there’s even more incentive to cryptocurrency miners to run more machines, further increasing energy consumption.

The new Chia cryptocurrency, created by BitTorrent developer Bram Cohen, relies on storage rather than processing performance to mine, using far less energy. However, with other cryptocurrencies causing a GPU shortage, there are concerns about this new, energy efficient one causing shortages of HDDs and SSDs – and there are already signs of this. Despite the Chia cryptocurrency not having launched yet, the Hong Kong-based tech site HKEPC has reported that higher capacity drives – 4TB to 18TB – are already being purchased on mass by miners. China-based hard drive manufacturer Jiahe Jinwei have reportedly sold out of their high performance Gloway and Asgard 1TB and 2TB NVMe M.2 SSDs, with the company increasing production to meet demand, in addition to developing an SSD specifically for crypto-mining.

However, in slightly better news, the SSDs that are being purchased are higher-end, enterprise models. While mining is viable on consumer SSDs, enterprise or data centre SSDs provide endurance as well as speed and storage capacity - so consumer drives should be safe.

Chia Cryptocurrency