Nvidia (NVDA) gave an extremely rosy financial forecast as the chipmaker benefits from surging demand for hardware to power the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution ushered in by the likes of ChatGPT. It was the talk of Wall Street on Thursday as Nvidia’s stock price soared.
For bitcoin (BTC) miners, it’s a reminder that they already have the expertise and data-center space to join in and run AI applications. Whether they’ll dive in remains to be seen.
“The overwhelmingly positive market reaction” to Nvidia’s news “will incentivize more mining companies to follow suit making announcements of their own and allocating more of their power capacity to other forms of compute,” said Ethan Vera, chief operating officer at mining services firm Luxor Technologies.
Vera noted the Wednesday announcement that Applied Digital (APLD) is working with data center design firm Supermicro (SMCI) on its AI cloud offering.
Applied Digital is one of a handful of miners that have had their eyes on diversifying their data center space into other areas of computing for a while, along with peers Hut 8 Mining (HUT) and Hive Blockchain (HIVE). Miners will see better margins in AI than mining, said Applied Digital CEO and Chairman Wes Cummins – at least before another bull run in the price of bitcoin.
However, the transition might not be a straight line. High-performance computing such as AI and cloud applications “requires a different level of infrastructure build” than bitcoin mining, Vera said. Firms will have to hire engineers to plan their sites differently and sales staff to sign up clients, he said.
“It’s not a straightforward process for a miner to repurpose their mines for AI compute – latency, compliance, cooling, environmental factors (humidity, dust) and power redundancy all need to be factored in when upgrading a site,” said Erin Dermer, Hut 8’s senior vice president of communications and culture, echoing Vera.
The cost to build a data centre in North Dakota that meets the standards of the AI industry was ten times higher than mining, said Cummins, sharing his experience.
Even though most miners are not likely to repurpose their facilities for AI, “there are some miners who have always had a more diverse approach to their business operation, with high-performance compute or edge-compute services, in addition to bitcoin mining. With the rapid growth of AI, these companies may accelerate the development of those business lines,” said Juri Bulovic, head of mining at Foundry Digital (which, like CoinDesk, is owned by Digital Currency Group).
Meanwhile, Nvidia’s forecast is lifting AI-linked crypto tokens, including SingularityNET (AGIX), which climbed about 13% on Thursday. Fetch.ai (FET) and Render (RNDR) are up more than 5% in the past 24 hours, according to CoinGecko data.
UPDATE (May 25, 2023, 20:24 UTC): Adds quote from Foundry Digital’s Juri Bulovic.
UPDATE (May 26, 2023, 12:40 UTC): Adds second quote from Applied Digital’s Wes Cummins.