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Watch out, crypto-mining SSDs are on the way now, too

A global SSD shortage could follow as a result

Buying an new SSD could be about to become as difficult as buying a new, next-gen graphics card in the coming months thanks to the rise of a new cryptocurrency known as Chia. According to a new report from HKEPC (thanks Hexus), storage prices in Hong Kong have soared in recent days as miners snap up high capacity drives in anticipation of Chia being the next big thing, causing several models to go out of stock. Now, manufacturers in China have confirmed they're starting to produce dedicated cryptocurrency mining SSDs to help handle the growing demand.

Developed by the founder of BitTorrent Bram Cohen, Chia sets itself apart from other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin by relying much more heavily on having a fast SSD than a high-powered graphics card. From what we understand over on Chia's website, it's built around having lots of free space on your PC, and the high number of read and write operations it's expected to perform also favours SSDs with high endurance ratings.

You can't actually trade Chia just yet, but the HKEPC report states that SSDs and hard disk drives are already in short supply in Hong Kong, and many 4-18TB models have already gone out of stock. Prices have increased by an average of HK$200-HK$600 in just a few days, too, which for context works out to be around £20-60 in the UK.

As SSD supplies continue to dry up, Chinese manufacturer Jiahe Jinwei have now announced they're starting to make a new suite of dedicated cryptocurrency mining SSDs to cope with the current demand. It looks like they'll be mainly targeted at Chia miners, so may miss the consumer retail market altogether, but the company have already warned that it could prompt a new rush on SSDs more generally as Chia becomes more popular. As such, we could be in for another great graphics card-sized shortage of our beloved SSDs soon, and prices for the best SSDs for gaming could start to rise all over the world as a result.

Graphics cards have been in desperately short supply ever since the end of last year, suffering from a double-whammy of manufacturing delays related to Covid-19 and another surge in cryptocurrency mining, making it nigh on impossible for regular folk like us to get hold of new hardware such as Nvidia's new RTX 30-series GPUs and AMD's Radeon RX 6000 cards.

Indeed, Nvidia's CFO Colette Kress recently warned investors that they "expect demand to continue to exceed supply for much of this year," suggesting the current graphics card situation may not resolve itself until sometime in 2022. That's a long time to wait for those trying to upgrade their PC right now, and will probably result in many simply skipping this generation of hardware altogether. Here's hope the evolving SSD landscape doesn't get quite that bad over the coming months, but if you've been thinking at all about buying a new SSD in recent weeks, I'd advise getting one sooner rather than later.

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