Litecoin miners to account for $195 million in AMD GPU sales?
With the recent run up in prices in litecoin, the second most popular crypto-currency reached a market cap of $1 billion dollars in November. Litecoin had traditionally hovered around $3.00 for several months, then rose to an all time high of $48. Litecoin's meteoric rise has recently outpaced bitcoin, which topped the $1200 mark around the same time. Led by promising news of broader adoption by some of the larger currency exchanges, such as Mt. Gox. Which says it will fully support litecoin when they've completed the implementation of their new trading engine, code named "Midas". This news has led Coinbase, the largest US based crypto-currency payment processor, to state that they will adopt litecoin after the Mt. Gox, and Bitstamp implementations.
Where does AMD (Advanced Micro Devices, NYSE: AMD) come into play? Litecoin utilizes AMD GPU's to mine, and secure the network. These GPU's are perfect for litecoin mining, as it uses a different proof of work algorithm called Scrypt. This algorithm requires a larger memory (RAM) footprint than bitcoin's SHA256. With the recent flood of ASIC hardware in the bitcoin network, there are fears that large mining operations can procure significant portions of network power, further consolidating the creation of bitcoins. While there is more evidence of this happening, it is difficult to quantify the outcome, but it is still a growing concern among some long-time bitcoiner's.
When the bitcoin FPGA & ASIC mining hardware hit the scene, it was not profitable for the vast amount of GPU's. These GPU mining operations either turned off their equipment, but most likely switched to litecoin as a profitable alternative, as evidence, the litecoin network has steadily grown. The current network hashrate is around 90,000 MH/s for the litecoin network. By comparison this would equal 90,000 GH/s in the bitcoin world, as the Scrypt algorithm reduces the speed at which a GPU can perform the complex proof of work calculations.
For many months the ratio of the litecoin network hashrate/price was 30,000MH at $3.00 USD. This would have placed the total value of AMD graphics cards at nearly $17 million, using the equivalent of the AMD 7970 GPU at $400 each. Typically the price scales to the network hashrate (speed), this means with the current litecoin price of $30.00, the network hashrate should scale to 300,000 MH/s. This is the equivalent of 390,000 AMD R9 290 GPUs. This places the AMD GPU sales at $195 million, that accounts for roughly 10% of AMDs yearly GPU revenue, solely with the litecoin network.
With the rapid increase of adoption in litecoin, AMD stands to benefit greatly from this growing market segment. The question is, how is AMD going to respond to the growing demand for its GPU products. The larger question is if NVIDIA will finally roll out compatible GPU cards for the litecoin network. AMD has monopolized the market when it comes to mining scrypt-based crypto-currencies. With the explosive growth and future potential, both AMD and NVIDIA would be wise to further their position in this market, and possibly create products to cater specifically to the mining of crypto-currencies.
At the Inside Bitcoins conference, there was plenty of buzz about litecoin and its success. Charles Lee, the creator of litecoin was in attendance, along with his brother Bobby Lee, the CEO of BTC China, the largest bitcoin exchange in the world. Bobby explained in his presentation how popular litecoin is becoming in China, and elluded to the possibility that BTC China would start trading litecoin soon. With the price of litecoin being significantly less than bitcoin, more attention is being directed at litecoin, as a lightweight, and more efficient alternative to bitcoin.