The mining of bitcoins and cryptocurrencies has provided a consistent and growing market for the computer hardware manufacturers that produce the relevant chips for each segment. The main player on the GPU side (in contrast to ASIC mining) in 2017 was Nvidia, but even it could not anticipate the strong demand from miners as the year progressed.
Nvidia Corporation (NASDAQ: NVDA), the graphics processing unit (GPU) manufacturer, has reported a record revenue for the fourth quarter (which ended January 28, 2018) of $2.91 billion, up 34 percent from $2.17 billion a year earlier. The company achieved this peak financial performance, at least in part, thanks to strong demand from cryptocurrency miners which buy its graphics cards in bulk.
“We achieved another record quarter, capping an excellent year,” said Jensen Huang, founder and chief executive officer of Nvidia. “In a powerful sign of our progress, attendees at Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conferences reached 22,000, up tenfold in five years, as software developers working in AI, self-driving cars, and a broad range of other fields continued to discover the acceleration and money-saving benefits of our GPU computing platform.”
“Strong demand in the cryptocurrency market exceeded our expectations,” Nvidia Chief Financial Officer Colette Kress said in the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call. “While the overall contribution of cryptocurrency to our business remains difficult to quantify, we believe it was a higher percentage of revenue than the prior quarter. That said, our main focus remains on our core gaming market, as cryptocurrency trends will likely remain volatile.” He added, “We modeled crypto approximately flat” for next quarter.
The analysts who followed the stock estimated the impact, which the CFO was reluctant to quantify, in the hundreds of millions. RBC Capital Markets’ Mitch Steves evaluated that Nvidia’s cryptocurrency revenue rose to $180 million in Q4 from just $70 million the previous quarter. BMO Capital Markets Ambrish Srivastava predicted that in total the mining segment constituted more than $230 million for the period. “We had said the company needed to beat and raise, and it sure did, and then some,” Srivastava wrote in a note to clients. “Crypto likely had a hand to play in the results.”
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