Cryptocurrency Mining Is Stalling The Search For Extraterrestrial Beings

  • Researchers at SETI, which listens to potential alien signals, are unable to expand operations due to a GPU shortage
  • GPU maker Nvidia has stated it is working to keep up with demand

According to the BBC, the Search for Extraterrestrial Life (SETI) is stalling its expansion plans due to the lack of available GPUs in the market. Researchers reportedly want to expand their operations at two facilities, but are unable to find GPUs to buy.

GPUs are used by cryptocurrency miners and gamers. The recent cryptocurrency ‘craze’ that saw most cryptocurrencies hit new all-time highs in late 2017 has led to a shortage of these units as demand skyrocketed. Large GPU producers like Nvidia have yet to meet the high demand which has caused the shortages and inflated prices. They’re also used by researchers at SETI, who scan many communications frequencies at once. They do this to ensure they don’t miss any potential extraterrestrial call.

The BBC even reports that at some telescopes, Berkeley SETI has around 100 GPUs working on data. The organization’s facilities in Green Bank, West Virginia, and Parkes in Australia are currently unable to expand. According to SETI chief scientist Dan Werthimer, the organization has the money to invest, but retailers have to keep turning them down due to a lack of stock. He stated:

Earlier this year, gamers reportedly suffered from the shortage as well. Graphics card maker Nvidia, whose CEO recently stated that cryptocurrencies are “not going to go away,” reportedly told investors it is “working really hard” to “catch up with supply” to get more units out on the market.

"We'd like to use the latest GPUs [graphics processing units]... and we can't get 'em. This is a new problem, it's only happened on orders we've been trying to make in the last couple of months."

Dan Werthimer

Other radio-astronomers have seemingly also been affected. A group looking at evidence of the earliest stars claimed that the rising prices of GPUs forced them to use their contingency budget to expand its telescope.

Hacker House’s cybersecurity expert Matthew Hickey explained that GPUs can be used to profitably mine Ethereum and other altcoins. Whereas bitcoin miners largely moved on to specialized ASIC chips that were built for mining. He said:

"[Miners can] use GPUs effectively to turn a small profit, you're not going to make millions but if you put 12 or 24 GPUs together, you'll make back the cost in six months.”

Matthew Hickey

He further pointed out that GPUs are versatile, as cybersecurity experts often use them for password-cracking experiments. In these, computers attempt to “brute force” a password by attempting to crack it millions of times. The unmet demand for GPUs, he noted, led to the inflation of their prices.

Ethereum's Top DEX Announces Update Powered by ‘Unbounded’ Scaling Solution

IDEX, the top decentralized cryptocurrency exchange for trading ERC-20 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain, has announced a new update powered by an ‘unbounded’ scaling solution called Optimized Optimistic Rollup (O2R).

The scaling solution is made possible by the upcoming Istanbul hard fork, which is expected to take place over the weekend, and brings six Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs). One of these is EIP 2028, which reduces the gas fee for requesting call data from 68 gas per byte to 16 gas per byte. Calldata, CoinDesk reports, is information broadcast on the ETH state necessary for creating specific smart contracts.

These include smart contracts to bundle on-chain transaction off-chain. Aurora Labs, the company behind IDEX, sees Istanbul as a potential way to lower operating costs while processing more transactions. Alex Wearn, IDEX’s co-founder and CEO, said in a press release:

We designed O2R as a way to solve for Ethereum’s scaling challenges today by offering an alternative system that gives businesses a platform to scale to their needs. For IDEX, this 2.0 release gives traders what they want most—the performance and scalability of a centralized platform combined with the security of a DEX

The release notes each settlement transaction processed using the Optimized Optimistic Rollup solution will consume less gas than a single transaction on the IDEX 1.0 exchange, allowing for significant savings on gas fees. A demo version of the IDEX 2.0 trading platform is now available for traders, and comes with a trading competition that the exchange claims will be distributing over $200,000 in prizes.

It’s worth noting that according to Etherscan data, IDEX was responsible for nearly 28% of all transactions conducted on decentralized exchanges on the Ethereum blockchain over the last 30-day period. Uniswap came in first place with 28.9% of transactions, with Kyber Network coming in third with 17%

Decentralized Exchanges

Decentralized trading platforms are a growing trend in the cryptocurrency space. While the first prominent decentralized exchanges were on the Ethereum blockchain, there are now some available on various blockchains, allowing users to trade directly from their wallets.

Allowing users to trade directly from their wallets means there won’t be a risk of losing funds if a centralized platform gets hacked. This has long attracted users, so much so even decentralized exchanges have launched decentralized trading platforms.

These include controversial South Korean trading platform Bithumb, and its Bithumb DEX, popular exchange Binance and its DEX, Poloniex and its TRON-focused DEX launched shortly after it spun out of Circle, and platforms like Waves, which is partly known for its DEX.

As CryptoGlobe reported, OKEx has also announced that the development of its own blockchain, OKChain, is in its final testing phase. OKChain is going to be used to support the unbanked by “providing them basic financial services.” The first decentralized application on the network will be a decentralized trading platform, OKDEX.

OKB, OKEx’s native token, is set to be equipped with more use cases in different fields, including cybersecurity, finance, lifestyle services, and more.

Featured image via Pixabay.