Sep 17, 2022
Three days ago, just before midnight PST on September 14, the Ethereum cryptocurrency completed The Merge.
Prior to The Merge, new ethereum was created by "proof-of-work" mining which involved GPUs consuming electricity and producing ethereum, that could in turn be sold for money. The GPUs used are the same type of computer hardware that can play the latest video games in your computer. Up until The Merge, there were roughly 20 million GPUs running the mining program. It is estimated that this was using 23 million MWh of power per year.
The demand for GPUs shot up in 2021 when the price of ethereum skyrocketed. This inflated prices for GPUs during a worldwide chip supply chrunch. For a while, it was become near impossible to buy GPUs except on the resale market, such as eBay.
After The Merge, which was known in advance, GPUs can no longer be used to mine ethereum, and cannot profit mining other coins. The party is over. Good Riddance.
Last year I scraped some eBay sold prices for various GPUs. I repeated it this year, though there is a gap in my data. The resulting charts are pretty telling of how The Merge has decimated GPU prices.
The next chart shows the same data, but each card is divided by the estimated MH/s it produces, which is essentially the speed it mined ethereum. I also use a 10 day trailing moving average to smooth out the spikes a little bit.
I don't know why cards seem to have an uptick right before the merge. It's possible that it's thin volume, or just the news cycle around The Merge creating some interest in purchases at a bargain.
I have no crystal ball, but I suspect these prices will fall a good bit more in the near future. There are a lot of ethereum miners who believed that they would be able to profitably mine something after The Merge, or that The Merge simply wouldn't happen. These folks are quickly learning otherwise. Also, the next generation 4000 series NVidia cards are nearing release, which should reduce demand for the previous generation even further.