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In a nutshell: The crypto-mining craze has traditionally been GPU-focused, however, an emerging cryptocurrency could take its toll on the storage market following reports of early adopters in China mass purchasing high-capacity drives for farming Chia. For now, only enterprise-grade drives are being scooped up, but the coin's success and worldwide traction - which remains to be seen - could also spell trouble for consumer drives down the road.
Would you like some storage shortage to go along with the ongoing GPU shortage? The possibility could be on the horizon as Chia, a storage-based cryptocurrency, has allegedly led to the mass purchasing of hard drives and SSDs by miners in China that could potentially trigger a global price hike and hardware shortage in the future.
Created by Bram Cohen, the inventor of BitTorrent, the Chia blockchain uses a 'proof of space and time' model instead of 'proof of work' (Bitcoin) or 'proof of stake' (Etherium 2.0), essentially allowing miners to farm/earn Chia currency by allocating their unused disk space, along with a time factor tied in for increasing the blockchain's overall security.
Although this crypto hasn't become tradeable yet, early adopters of Chia are panic buying HDDs between 4TB to 18TB capacities, reports Hong Kong-based tech site HKEPC (via Tom's Hardware). Drive shortages and price hikes have been predicted as a result, with hardware costs expected to rise between HKD$200 to HKD$600 (~$26 to $77).
Interestingly, Chia farming is better suited for high-endurance, enterprise-grade drives due to its constant read/write operations, but this doesn't exactly rule out consumer HDDs and SSDs as they can still be used for mining. Jiahe Jinwei, China's fourth-largest memory manufacturer, told MyDrivers (Chinese) that it has sold out all of its Gloway and Asgard-branded 1TB and 2TB NVMe SSDs, and is now looking into increasing production and developing a purpose-built SSD for crypto mining.
We've previously seen GPU vendors go down this route, and it shouldn't be surprising for disk drive manufacturers to explore this option if Chia or other storage-based cryptos gain enough traction in the future.