When the Ethereum blockchain moved away from using a technique for verifying transactions known as proof of work last September, crypto market demand for the specialized processors that performed these calculations disappeared virtually overnight. Companies that used and hosted GPUs, or graphics processing units, saw a key part of their once-booming business vanish against an increasingly difficult backdrop for crypto. But now mining infrastructure companies like Hive Blockchain and Hut 8 Mining are finding opportunities to repurpose their GPU-based equipment for another industry on the precipice of a possible boom: artificial intelligence. From a report:
“If you can reapply some of that investment in the GPU mining infrastructure and convert it to new cards and workloads, it makes sense,” Hut 8 Chief Executive Officer Jaime Leverton said in an interview. GPUs — designed to accelerate graphics rendering — require constant maintenance and physical infrastructure not all users are prepared to provide. As such, Hut 8 and a few other miners have been using the chips to power high-performance computing, or HPC, services for clients across a range of industries. But inroads with the burgeoning and much-hyped AI sector — which requires huge amounts of computing power — represent the kind of transformational opportunity miners had been seeking when they originally bought the processors.