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Gamers Could Earn Crypto with ASUS Partnership with Quantumcloud

Gamers Could Earn Crypto with ASUS Partnership with Quantumcloud

Gamers have been presented with an opportunity to earn cryptocurrencies through their GPUs based on the newfound partnership between Taiwan-based leading tech company AsusTek Computer Inc and startup cloud-based mining solution platform Quantumcloud.

The partnership announcement yesterday disclosed how the Taiwan tech manufacturer will leverage on its market distribution of its branded graphics card to promote cryptocurrency mining on the cloud mining app developed by the Quantumcloud project.

Gamers will be able to co-earn through the mining process carried out by the platform using their idle GPU power. The cryptocurrencies earned can be cashed out through payment gateways such as PayPal or WeChat.

The earnings will be based on the percentage of GPU processing power allocated by the user, which is often the unused GPU resource – that is, portions of the graphics card not engaged in any other processing.

One essential takeaway is that the privacy of users including their financial data on the app will be protected under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), making it GDPR compliant. As per the announcement:

“As part of its pledge to protect user data, Quantumcloud launched with GDPR compliance in place and does not require customers to create a unique login. Instead, customers use their existing PayPal or WeChat account to log in and collect their earnings.”

On the other side of the partnership, Quantumcloud has made it known that it does not guarantee that users of its software will earn profits and that earnings will be based on the performance of the cryptocurrency market. More so, the earnings are relative to the amount of processing power allocated.

Unlike Bitcoin mining where sophisticated processors called ASICs are required due to computational difficulty, the most commonly threaded path is to use GPUs to mine cryptocurrencies.

Miners have had to either mine alone or join a pool of miners to earn reasonably. However, the downtrend in the cryptocurrency market has made it extremely difficult for miners to cope. This grim picture is accentuated by the growing numbers of mining firms shutting down due to high operational costs and miners going the length of selling their mining rigs at second-hand values.

To top it all, hardware provider Nvidia reported in its Q3 financial data that there has been a “substantial decline” in patronage for GPU chips.


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GPU Manufacturer Nvidia Abandons Crypto Mining

Nvidia has decided to exit the crypto mining business due to plummeting crypto mining-related sales. Nvidia is one of the top graphics processing unit (GPU) manufacturers in the world. In 2017, it pulled in USD 9.7 billion of revenue, USD 3.2 billion of profits and had USD 11.2 billion of assets.

The CEO of Nvidia, Colette Kress, said, “We believe we’ve reached a normal period as we’re looking forward to essentially no cryptocurrency as we move forward. Our revenue outlook had anticipated cryptocurrency-specific products declining to approximately USD 100 million, while actual crypto-specific product revenue was USD 18 million, and we now expect a negligible contribution going forward.”

At the beginning of crypto mining around 2009, there was only computer processing unit (CPU) mining. However, someone wrote the code to mine with GPUs, which were far more efficient than CPUs. People bought up whatever GPUs they could find to build mining farms, including from Nvidia. Early on, these were tailored for gaming but in recent years, Nvidia had been producing GPUs specifically for crypto mining. This announcement from Nvidia is effectively stating that they will no longer produce GPUs specifically for crypto mining, although miners will still be able to buy those built for gaming and mine crypto with them.

This decision is the result of two important factors. First off, the crypto markets hit their peak in December 2017 and January 2018 when Bitcoin hit USD 20,000, and other cryptos rallied heavily as well. Now the crypto markets are in a recession, with Bitcoin below USD 7,000. This factor has made crypto mining with GPUs much less profitable, and for most mining operations, electricity costs more than the revenue.

The second factor is rising mining difficulty. Companies that specifically design cryptocurrency mining equipment have developed application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) for most cryptocurrencies that used to be GPU or CPU only, including SHA-256, Scrypt and X11. It is very difficult to find any cryptocurrency that is ASIC resistant, since if a crypto gets popular enough then a mining manufacturer will spend the time to develop an ASIC for that crypto. This is because ASICs perform much better in terms of hash rate and energy efficiency.

The combined result of rising difficulty from the proliferation of ASICs and decreasing crypto price has made GPU farms an unprofitable venture for the most part. This has caused GPU miners to liquidate their hardware to get some cash instead of continuing to mine, causing a massive crash in GPU prices.

Nvidia had been preparing to sell crypto mining GPUs long term and acquired a large stash but now people are trying to sell the ones they have and generally not buying new GPUs from the manufacturer. Nvidia actually has 1 million units of surplus due to the unexpected crash of the crypto markets, forcing them to slash prices and delaying the release of newer, better models until the surplus is sold off.


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Indie Game “Abstractism” Removed for Alleged Crypto-Jacking

Valve Corporation has been forced to remove a video game from its platform as it has been associated with crypto jacking.

Valve’s video game marketplace Steam was created in 2013 as a digital content distribution channel before app stores existed. Its become a platform for creators and publishers to deliver content as part of a community of players and developers.

Steam has removed an indie game ‘Abstractism’ accused of deceptive practices and crypto jacking – the secret use of a user’s computing device to mine cryptocurrency through an unknowingly installed a program on their computer.

A number of users had complained that the game set up file included a Trojan virus and malware disguised in two files as “launcher” and “steam.exe processes”. On further investigation by other users, it was found that the infected files were actually Monero crypto miners.

The game itself was released on Steam in March through game developer Okalo Union and publisher Motherboard suggests that the fact that that the developers encouraged users to keep the game running, even when not it use, should have been a warning to players. Extra in-game bonuses were offered for players happy to leave their game running.

Many users were alerted to a problem, noticing that running the game used excessive system resources, considering the size of the game which was relatively low key. They also noticed that the game triggered malware alerts.

Okalo Union, who developed the game, have denied all allegations claiming that sign of crypto mining such as increased CPU and GPU power use have been misread by users and were simply caused by playing on high graphics, although the following contradictory statement via Steam seems to suggest otherwise, the first part of which they later purported to be a joke:

“Bitcoin is outdated, we currently use Abstractism to mine only Monero coins. Abstractism does not mine any of cryptocurrency. Probably, you are playing on high graphics settings, because they take a bit of CPU and GPU power, required for post-processing effects rendering.”

According to a Valve representative via PCGamesN, they have “removed Abstractism and banned its developer from Steam for shipping unauthorized code, trolling with content, and scamming customers with deceptive in-game items”.


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GPU Prices in Tailspin After Drastic Demand Decrease from Crypto Miners

Prices of graphics processing units (GPUs) have drastically dropped, under pressure from declining cryptocurrency prices which have led to lower demand from cryptocurrency miners.

Bitcoin has dropped from a peak of USD 20,000 in December 2017 to around USD 6,000 in June and July, a 70% decline. Almost all other cryptocurrencies have had similar or worse price declines. When market conditions are right, miners buy as many GPUs as possible and strap them together to create a mining farm. However, GPU mining is only profitable if cryptocurrency prices are high enough, and now prices for cryptocurrency have dropped so much that GPU mining has become unprofitable for many cryptocurrencies.

In April 2018, the top end AMD OEM 4 GB RX 580 GPU was selling in six packs for USD 3,600 and sold out, now there is plenty of inventory and it is selling for USD 2,500. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 GPU declined from USD 1,050 to USD 709 during the same time period. This is directly caused by decreasing demand from cryptocurrency miners; shipments of GPUs to crypto mining have decreased 55.5% since late 2017.

It is estimated that there are several million GPU units in inventory worldwide, including 1 million being held by NVIDIA. This massive surplus is the result of GPU manufacturers ramping up production to keep up with demand during the cryptocurrency rally, followed by demand unexpectedly dropping drastically, leaving them holding the bag.

Now, manufacturers are forced to lower prices until they sell off their surplus inventory and this is actually delaying them from launching new and improved GPUs, giving smaller competitors a chance to get the upper hand by releasing faster GPUs.

Another compounding factor is that cryptocurrency mining with GPUs has become so unprofitable that miners are trying to salvage some money by reselling GPUs at a fraction of the retail cost, releasing large amounts of miners onto the market. Ethereum miners also face a fresh threat in the form of the Antminer E3 from Bitmain, which is more cost-effective than GPUs for mining Ether.


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