- A new kind of crypto that lets people “farm” from their empty disk storage is creating an SSD and HDD buying frenzy.
- The crypto called ‘Chia’ aspires to introduce an environmentally-friendly way to join the cryptocurrency world.
- The result is yet another shortage or at least a price hike in one more critical part of the home office equipment.
The ‘Chia’ cryptocurrency officially launched for mining (not trading yet) on March 19, 2021, and miners of the new coin are already hoarding massive amounts of SSDs and HDDs, causing price hikes in China – and soon, shortages. The particular crypto requires local capacity for mining, as it needs to perform a large number of read and write operations. This is busting SSDs a lot quicker than what they would last under normal/typical use-case scenarios, so miners are snatching HDDs too.
Because of the high anticipated profits, though, SSDs are still swept from the Chinese market, so the availability of both products is threatened. Right now, the whole thing is driven by panic buying, as miners fear being left out of the first very profitable months of Chia, so they’re getting any HDD between 4TB and 18TB they can find. SSDs between 1TB and 2TB are also sold out in the biggest Chinese electronic retail shops, so the situation is already seriously problematic.
This comes on top of the existing chip shortage problems that are estimated to last until the end of 2023, adding more agitation to the troubles the world is facing. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to work from home, so the demand for desktop PCs and laptops is unprecedented, and in 2021, this demand is going to rise even more. Not being able to get chips and/or storage for home-work devices could be a serious disturbance for the world economy.
Chia’s creator, Bram Cohen, who is also the inventor of BitTorrent, wanted to create something more eco-friendly than traditional cryptos that require a lot of processing power and thus energy. The idea is to introduce “Proof of Space” and “Proof of Time,” linking unused hard drive space with block times cryptographically, to form a security system for the Chia blockchain.
The unused space on the hard drives of the miners will be needed for the installation of a collection of cryptographic numbers used by the “farmers” of the network. So, instead of actively “mining” and spending a lot of energy, Chia lets people “farm” using empty drive space.
As it becomes clear almost immediately following the launch, though, there’s no “green” crypto in reality because there are no limits in buying products and depleting natural resources when it makes economic sense to do so. If the Chia craze goes global, which is very likely considering that it is intrinsically very decentralized and its value is theoretically less volatile, expect SSD prices to rise and shelves to empty.