Nvidia’s (NASDAQ:NVDA) management has recently stated that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH) don’t bring anything “useful” for society. This, despite the firm’s powerful processors selling in massive quantities to the nascent crypto industry.
Michael Kagan, Nvidia’s CTO, noted that other popular uses of processing power like the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT were a lot more practical, especially when compared to mining virtual currencies.
It’s worth noting that Nvidia never actually fully embraced the crypto and blockchain community.
Back in 2021, the firm introduced special software that had constrained the option to use its graphics cards from being used to mine Ethereum (ETH). According to a report from the Guardian, this was done to ensure that the supply would go towards the firm’s preferred clients, which reportedly include established AI-focused researchers and gaming experts.
Kagan pointed out that the move is justified due to the relatively limited value of using processing power to mine decentralized digital currencies.
Notably, the very first version ChatGPT has been trained on a supercomputer, which is made up of around 10,000 Nvidia graphics cards.
In statements shared with the Guardian, Kagan said:
“All this crypto stuff, it needed parallel processing, and [Nvidia] is the best, so people just programmed it to use for this purpose. They bought a lot of stuff, and then eventually it collapsed, because it doesn’t bring anything useful for society. AI does. With ChatGPT, everybody can now create his own machine, his own programme: you just tell it what to do, and it will. And if it doesn’t work the way you want it to, you tell it ‘I want something different’.”
When compared to crypto, it is evident that these so-called digital currencies are more like speculative, high-frequency trading. It’s a sector that led to considerable business for Mellanox, the startup Kagan launched before Nvidia acquired it.
“I never believed that [crypto] is something that will do something good for humanity. You know, people do crazy things, but they buy your stuff, you sell them stuff. But you don’t redirect the company to support whatever it is.”
Initially known for releasing high-performance graphics cards primarily for PC gamers to play the most innovative games, it was simply by chance that Nvidia’s products took their place at the time of the AI craze.
The extensive work of training AI systems, which typically take a lot of computing power, worked considerably quicker on the types of rudimentary but high-performance processors that had been adopted by gaming enthusiasts.
Recently, Microsoft revealed it acquired a fairly large number of Nvidia’s AI-enhanced processors, the A100 GPU, to support the workload of OpenAI.
Nvidia has reportedly sold 20,000 H100s, which serves as the successor to that particular chip, to Amazon for its Cloud computing AWS service, as well as an additional 16,000 that have been sold to Oracle.