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When crypto miners diversify into AI

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When crypto miners diversify into AI

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In 2023, the AI sector experienced a meteoric rise, marked by an exponential demand for computing power, fuelled in particular by applications such as OpenAI's ChatGPT. This rise has led to a significant increase in demand for graphics processing units (GPUs), which are essential for processing the complex data needed to make AI work.

In light of this development, it is no surprise that companies specialising in cryptocurrency mining, which were once GPU-hungry, are now repositioning themselves towards AI. Indeed, Nvidia, a leader in the GPU market, recently compared these units to rare metals, highlighting their fundamental nature for AI. With such a comparison and the GPU market projected to grow from $3 billion in 2023 to $26 billion in 2030, the sector is attracting new players.

One of the most striking examples of this transition is Hive Blockchain, renamed Hive Digital Technologies. Initially specialising in cryptocurrency mining since 2017, this Canadian company has turned its attention to cloud computing and AI, leveraging its fleet of GPUs for new revenue avenues. This strategic pivot illustrates the reorientation of skills and infrastructure initially dedicated to cryptocurrencies towards AI applications, which require similar computing power but for distinctly different uses.

This migration is not without its challenges. As Hive executive chairman Frank Holmes explains, moving from mining Ethereum to hosting GPU cloud services involves significant investment in powerful servers and networking equipment, as well as upgrading data centres to meet the demands of AI. This change requires a steep learning curve, but the skills developed in cryptocurrency mining provide a solid foundation for this evolution.

Other companies, such as Iris Energy, have adopted a similar strategy, albeit one that was planned from the outset. The latter has used Bitcoin mining to initiate its data centre platform, while preserving its flexibility to adapt to market needs, whether cryptocurrencies or AI.

The competitive advantage for these companies lies in their ability to alternate between cryptocurrency mining and AI services, optimising their operations according to market demands. This allows them to benefit from the potentially volatile revenues of mining while exploring the more stable and rapidly growing opportunities of AI.