Sales of GPUs for Bitcoin miners is a very, very tiny portion of NVDA’s revenue. If Bitcoin were to completely vanish, it would be like a little mosquito bite to NVDA’s financials. Here’s what CEO Huang said on the last conference call (quarter ending 10/29/17):
Colette, on the last call, you mentioned that crypto was $150 million in the OEM line in the July quarter. Can you quantify how much crypto was in the October quarter? And expectations in the January quarter directionally? And just longer-term, why should we think that crypto won’t impact the gaming demand in the future? If you can just talk about the steps anybody has taken with respect to having the different mode and all that?
So in our results, in the OEM results, our specific crypto boards equated to about $70 million of revenue, which is the comparable to the $150 million that we saw last quarter.
Yes. Our longer term, Atif – well, first of all, thank you for that. The longer-term way to think about that is crypto is small for us but not 0. And I believe that crypto will be around for some time, kind of like today. There will be new currencies emerging, existing currencies would grow in value. The interest in mining these new emerging currency crypto algorithms that emerge are going to continue to happen. And so I think for some time, we’re going to see that crypto will be a small but not 0, small but not 0 part of our business. The – when you think about crypto in the context of our company overall, the thing to remember is that we’re the largest GPU computing company in the world.
And our overall GPU business is really sizable and we have multiple segments. And there’s data center and I’ve already talked about the five different segments within data center. There’s [indiscernible] and even that has multiple segments within it, whether it’s rendering or computed design or broadcast, in a workstation, in a laptop or in a data center, the architecture is rather different. And of course, you know that we have high performance computing, you know that we have autonomous machine business, self-driving cars and robotics.
And you know of course that we have gaming; and so these different segments are all quite large and growing. And so my sense is that as although crypto will be here to stay, it will remain small not zero.
Cryptocurrency is small for them. Specifically, last quarter it was $70M out of $2650M which is 2.6% of revenue.
Huang also said the following specifically about Bitcoin and the other emerging cryptocurrencies:
Just following up on that last question. You mentioned that some of the crypto market had moved to traditional gaming. What drives that? Is there a lack of availability of the specialized crypto product? Or is it just that there’s a preference driven for the gaming oriented crypto solutions?
Yes, Joe, I appreciate you asking that. Here’s the reason why. So what happens is when a crypto – when a currency – digital currency market becomes very large, it entices somebody to build a custom ASIC for it. And of course, Bitcoin is the perfect example of that. Bitcoin is incredibly easy to design in its specialized chip form. But then what happens is a couple of different players starts to monopolize the marketplace. As a result, it chases everybody out of the mining market and it encourages a new currency to evolve, to emerge. And the new currency, the only way to get people to mine is if it’s hard to mine, okay? You got to put some effort into it. However, you want a lot of people to try to mine it.
And so therefore, the platform that is perfect for it, the ideal platform for digital, new emerging digital currencies turns out to be a CUDA GPU. And the reason for that is because there are several hundred million NVIDIA GPUs in the marketplace. If you want to create a new cryptocurrency algorithm, optimizing for our GPUs is really quite ideal. It’s hard to do. It’s hard to do, therefore, you need a lot of computation to do it. And yet there is enough GPUs in the marketplace, it’s such an open platform that the ability for somebody to get in and start mining is very low barriers to entry.
And so that’s the cycles of these digital currencies, and that’s the reason why I say that digital currency crypto usage of GPUs, crypto usage of GPUs will be small but not 0 for some time. And it’s small because when it gets big, somebody will be able to build custom ASIC. But if somebody builds a custom ASIC, there will be a new emerging cryptocurrency. So ebbs and flows.
So there you have it. NVDA is not the best solution for mining established cryptocurrencies. GPUs are well positioned for the new, emerging cryptocurrencies.