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Hardware Woes Compound as SSDs, HDDs Suffer From Supply Shortage

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A new report indicates that both solid-state drives (SSD) and hard drives (HDD) are in short supply. Combined with the global chip shortage, the issue will only add to the woes experienced by consumers and manufacturers alike.

When coupled with the supply chain disruptions like the Suez canal blockage and general slowdowns and work stoppages that occurred as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, the lack of parts availability is already dire for people seeking much-needed hardware.

According to a recent report from Digital Trends, cryptocurrency miners, who have already been blamed for the current shortage of graphics cards, are now being blamed for a new shortage that is hitting computer storage. If the report is accurate, these digital currency miners are already responsible for snapping up as many SSDs and HDDs as possible, making it all the more difficult for normal consumers to find sources for the same products. The PC, gaming, and photo/video industries will be forced to deal with a depleted supply.

A lot of this worry depends on if a new cryptocurrency called Chia rises in popularity. Unlike other digital currencies, Chia heavily relies on storage space as it is based on a “proof of space and time” model. This currency, developed by BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen, is said to rely on storage as a more environmentally friendly model since drives like SSDs and HDDs consume less energy when compared to the more powerful GPUs for Ethereum mining, making the Chia model more accessible to the general public.

The downside is this accessibility could end up resulting in massive shortages in vital computer storage components as digital miners start stockpiling the storage devices. According to the report, this situation is already happening with even casual miners quickly acquiring stores of both types of drives in anticipation of the Chia launch.

SSD manufacturer Jiahe Jinwei in China has reported in a note on MyDrivers that it has been completely depleted of its one and two terabyte NVMe M.2 drives which have prompted the company to take steps to copy what AMD and Nvidia did in the GPU industry. It aims to prevent cryptocurrency miners from buying large numbers of SSDs intended for sale to consumers, and they will start to make drives that are designed specifically for mining, much like how Nvidia has released mining-specific CMP graphics cards. It is possible these SSD and HD manufacturers will also start releasing drives for consumers with drivers that make them less suitable for mining in an attempt to prevent cryptocurrency miners from hoarding the devices before general consumers can buy them.

There is some debate as to whether this method actually works, however. Some argue that making products specifically for miners doesn’t help, as production of hardware is limited and the manufacture of devices made for miners have limited to no resale value, which also hurts supply. The full argument against mining-specific GPUs can be seen in the video below by Linus Tech Tips.

Given there’s already an existing shortage of GPUs and CPUs due in part to mining (but not entirely), the addition of a new cryptocurrency that specifically calls for more physical storage is poised to make building a computer — both traditional desktop PCs and any computing device that requires onboard storage such as cars, gaming consoles, and other popular modern tech — much more expensive for those not willing to wait the shortage out. It also means backup options for photographers and videographers is going to get much more expensive — and important.

Until this new Chia currency is launched, the full extent of its impact on the computer and storage market won’t be known, but if the predictions are accurate, prices for storage will aggressively increase — that is of course, if you can find any drives at all. According to Wccftech, pricing has already increased by the equivalent of $26 to $76 for hard drives with storage of 4TB to 18TB, and prices are expected to continue to rise once Chia launches.


Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.

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