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Cryptocurrency mining is interfering with the search for alien life

By Shawn Knight ยท 37 replies
Feb 14, 2018
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  1. Gamers aren’t the only ones inconvenienced by the ongoing cryptocurrency mining craze. Researchers with SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) are also suffering through inventory shortages, potentially slowing the search for intelligent life beyond Earth.

    According to a recent report from the BBC, researchers with SETI are looking to improve their ability to analyze radio frequencies at two observatories – the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia, and the Parkes Observatory in Australia. Dr. Dan Werthimer, chief scientist at the Berkeley SETI Research Center, said they wanted to use the latest GPUs but quite simply, they can’t get them.

    “This is a new problem, it's only happened on orders we've been trying to make in the last couple of months,” Werthimer said.

    “We've got the money, we've contacted the vendors, and they say, 'We just don't have them',” Werthimer added.

    Organizations such as SETI utilize the latest hardware – like high-end graphics cards – to process large amounts of data (in the case of SETI, data from large radio telescope arrays). Because they don’t know what frequency an extraterrestrial might broadcast on, SETI scans a vast array of different signal types in hopes of finding correspondence from alien lifeforms.

    The Berkeley SETI Research Center where Werthimer works was responsible for launching the SETI@home distributed computing project in 1999. The program uses idle computing power from machines around the world to analyze signal data.

    Lead image courtesy Stephane Gulsard, ESO

    Permalink to story.

  2. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,514   +3,700

    Well, the two disciplines share a great deal in common!

    One searches endlessly for alien life, which may, or may not, exist.

    The other searches endlessly for currency, which may, or may not exist...:D
  3. Comanche

    Comanche TS Enthusiast Posts: 46   +35

    honestly , good point but you have better chances with cryptocurrency
  4. pawel04

    pawel04 TS Booster Posts: 81   +90

    Ironically, theres actually a blockchain project Golem which once developed I guess could reduce issues like this as researchers can pay to use the combined computer power from the network which acts as a supercomputer.
  5. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,514   +3,700

    Yeah but, wouldn't the miners simply outbid them for it?
    Boilerhog146 and davislane1 like this.
  6. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 4,866   +3,311

    Well, we might be able to solve any money shortages by setting up a few deep space toll booths and start collecting ..... by the way, don't forget to get a nice one from Musk's rocket as it zooms past ......
  7. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,514   +3,700

    Undoubtedly, the dummy in the red Tesla will have left his wallet at home. So, good luck with that.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
  8. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,425   +1,824

    The possibility of life elsewhere has gone way up with the discovery of planets in other galaxies - at least according to the Drake equation; however, given the distances involved there, we only have several million years to wait for a signal from other galaxies if it left today. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/did-we-just-find-exoplanets-in-another-galaxy/

    I am still occasionally running Seti@home You guys are welcome to laugh and tease. It is, obviously, like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, and I would personally be surprised if advanced civilizations still use radio for communication. AFAIK, the search has yet to turn up something and may never turn up something.
  9. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,704   +1,945

    So I guess miners aren't the only ones who buy large quantities of graphics cards. Just another example of how Nvidia was caught up prepared when they said GPUs are the future of computing
    davislane1 likes this.
  10. misor

    misor TS Evangelist Posts: 1,379   +294

    No need to search for extra-terrestrial aliens...because we are doomed...
    ...why (create) the need for digital/virtual coins when real money is available in the real world?
  11. Taking this observation into account, the miner stereotype should be modified as follows:


    Theoretically. If for no other reason than mining profits being infinitely more taxable than research grants.
  12. holdum323

    holdum323 Banned Posts: 1,724   +455

    Hi I will follow this thread. It is very interesting. Here's my 2cents. Does anyone here think we are the only ones in the galaxy. There is no beginning and no end. Does that scare You? Am I off topic? If so, I'll get deleted again. ROFL. This is all above my pay grade @mailpup I do the best I can with what I have. You are appreciated my friend.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
  13. Humza

    Humza TS Maniac Posts: 174   +136

    And maybe aliens are having the same problem on their planet.
    wiyosaya and holdum323 like this.
  14. holdum323

    holdum323 Banned Posts: 1,724   +455

    Maybe! Very possible my friend!
    Humza likes this.
  15. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,514   +3,700

    By the time we have "Mork & Mindy" reruns rebraodcast from another galaxy, cockroaches with 400+ IQs will be running the earth.
  16. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,208   +4,873

    Stop drawing attention to yourself like this. If you have something to say, like you did in the first quote, say it and stop typing.
    Boilerhog146 and holdum323 like this.
  17. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 4,246   +2,719

    I propose a unification, in the form of a new crypto-coin called Little-Green-Man Coin, or simply LGMC. Then they all will be searching for the same.
  18. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,514   +3,700

    Cliff, are you trying to take over my role as Hoodlum666's therapist? Cause if so, I'll send you over the paperwork.(y):D
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
    Boilerhog146 and holdum323 like this.
  19. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,514   +3,700

    Well why didn't you say so earlier? You can find both right here on earth, without so much as a radio telescope or a computer![​IMG]
  20. ypsylon

    ypsylon TS Booster Posts: 147   +35

    Technically I don't know what's the problem with SETI.

    Any dweeb on YT can ask nVidia or AMD (to lesser degree, but still) to dump them some graphic cards "for review" even if nobody will watch that review.

    On the other hand can't SETI simply ask nVidia for same thing? What's the problem? SETI can certainly advertise the action in every media imaginable so nVidia will benefit greatly from such action from ad revenue alone. Propaganda is potent economic tool.
  21. pawel04

    pawel04 TS Booster Posts: 81   +90

    'tis a good point there sir. Guess miners always win (n)
  22. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,526   +416

    Those "dweebs" are seen as a direct marketing tool that is almost guaranteed to increase sales through their viewers. . SETI on the other hand would be a PR move at most, as in Looks good for the company, but will likely not have as much of an affect on sales as you think it would, even if SETI "advertised" that they were powered by Nvidia/AMD.

    It also comes to supply and demand as well as who actually manufacturers those GPUs. Rarely does the chipmaker (Nvidia, AMD) make their own cards outside some special edition/founders edition, etc, and even then those cards are made in relatively small stocks compared to the number of cards an OEM will churn out. As far as supply... well look at high end GPU prices right now lol...

    Nvidia says they are "committed" to gamers and trying to get inventory levels back up to "help" with the massive markups. If ANY of that has any truth to it, then SETI is not the audience Nvidia wants to focus on either.
  23. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,425   +1,824

    seti@home is significantly faster when run on GPUs than it is when run on CPUs.

    There is one way of looking at GPGPU - a solution looking for a problem that has yet to be envisioned. :D We probably have not seen the end of it yet. nVidia, in retrospective, was forward-thinking - at least on the usage part, but obviously not on the supply part. GPGPU/CUDA has been going on since the 8800 series. In fact, up until a few months ago, I still had an 8800 GT running Seti@Home and Milkyway@Home.
    You mean they aren't already?
  24. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,425   +1,824

    The thing is that usage of GPUs for SETI is not any different than usage for HPC. It is only making news because it is SETI. In theory, anyway, since HPC uses Tesla cards, they are not affected by the shortage. However, it would cost SETI a bundle to get Tesla cards; for SETI, Tesla cards would be a waste of money since SETI has absolutely no need of DP compute and that is the only significant difference between consumer GPUs and Tesla cards - other than the lack of video outputs on the Teslas. SETI is strictly SP compute - assuming that the calculations that they will run in this system are the same or nearly the same as those they distribute to SETI@Home participants. In some ways, I am surprised that nVidia did not simply respond to SETI and say "your intended use violates our recently announced policy against using consumer cards in data center/HPC applications." But that, especially given the visibility of SETI, would be very bad public relations.

    As for nVidia being committed to gamers, I think that is a bunch of public relations drivel being spewed to prevent a gamer revolt. If not, they would be doing everything they can on the manufacturing side to step up production of cards - if they really were committed to gamers; correct me if I am wrong, but we have yet to hear that they are doing this.They are rolling in profits right now, and they could not be happier IMO. nVidia seems to me, for reasons in addition to this which include, but are not limited to, crippling DP compute on consumer cards, to be run by corporate greed and, as I see it, it is catching up to them.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
    Jimster480 likes this.
  25. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,704   +1,945

    Between self driving cars, mining, scientific research and AI (probably more I cant think of) this stuff has been going on for years. There is no getting around that this is Nvidias fault. They are trying to blame miners because it's making the rounds in the news but the fact of the matter is that GPUs largest market hasn't been gamers for close to a decade. This is nothing but a PR stunt where they are trying to save face.

    Honestly I'd buy another 12 GPUs if the price was right but I'm just going to wait until Volta. Volta seems like it's only a few months away. I have 2 1080ti's and 6 1070ti's. You can call me part of the problem if you want but let's not deny Nvidia hasn't increased production for years even though they have been preaching the GPU is the future of everything for years now.

    I buy GPUs because Nvidia is right! GPUs are the future, now they just need to start making enough to make that future a reality
    wiyosaya and Whltng like this.

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