Typically, a story involving smugglers and a high-speed boat chase through the harbors of Hong Kong would be fuel for a Jason Statham movie surrounding organized crime, guns and/or drugs.
Post-pandemic however, we’re not talking about nefarious substances or weapons. Rather, a report on DigitalTrends.com links these events to approximately 300 stolen Cryptocurrency Mining Processors made by Santa Clara, CA-based Nvidia.
The cards in question were recently confiscated after the aforementioned chase. They carry an inflated retail value of about $220,000, but pandemic-related slowdowns in production and distribution could be driving their black market values even higher.
Considered a lower-tier offering, the 30HX cards in question are not currently available in the U.S., but have been seen in stores throughout Asia selling at more than $500 over typical retail prices.
The lower processing power and lack of video outputs of the 30HX means it’s not a viable option for gaming or other high-level processing applications facing shortages, like the automotive sector.
And, while the 30HX’s hash rate of 26 MH/s is less desirable for cryptocurrency miners, this is another market sector feeling the pinch of supply chain pressures.
Bitcoin value, for example, has continued to skyrocket, driving an uptick in minors, mining activity and transactions. This increased activity demands more processing power, and has led to a run on applicable processors and chips – creating shortages similar to those seen in the automotive and gaming sectors.
So, if something is better than nothing and you’re not particular about the origins of what you’re buying, this type of activity could continue.
The smugglers got away, with law enforcement believing they fled to mainland China. But in addition to the CMP’s, the local police also found kits for increasing computer system RAM within their cargo. It’s believed that the crew obtained these kits in response to a projected price increase for DRAM.
To oversimplify what this means for those who, like me, are not familiar with computing memory and processing terminology, more RAM allows for handling more data at higher speeds. RAM is also chip-based, making it more expense and difficult to obtain right now.
DRAM is off-chip and less expensive, but with a chip shortage, DRAM demand could seek a spike. For these smugglers, that means these stolen kits represent a new market opportunity and could lead to repeats of the recent Hong Kong chase.