The end of the road for computer hardware as US indices dive


Those who have worked within any large company in a technical capacity will likely recall the sudden way in which computer hardware simply disappeared seamingly overnight.

Back in the 1990s, huge server farms and arrays of switches adorned massive rooms in most offices worldwide, and stacks of beige plastic desktop PCs whirred away all day.

Cabling was everywhere, and lights flashed as data was carried around the office, and IT professionals observed and controlled these gargantuan operations.

Suddenly, around 15 years ago, it all disappeared.

Server rooms gave way to open spaces and coffee machines, and suddenly the office space business grew toward coworker spaces and remote work.

The old beige stacks of in-house computers were gone, and cloud computing was in vogue.

What's that got to do with the stock market?

Well, quite a lot.

The computer hardware industry has long since disappeared from the top stocks, largely due to the aforementioned cloud computing revolution, but there has been one hardware type that has endured. Graphics cards.

NVIDIA, a publicly-listed American giant which manufactures graphics cards has been the final enduring stock on the blue-chip indices, and has been doing very well until now.

That's because graphics cards are used in cryptocurrency mining, and the vast, industrial-scale Chinese Bitcoin mining rigs which existed in mainland China until last year were using them en masse.

Suddenly, the Chinese government swept in and put an end to the use of cheap (and sometimes free) electricity that the commercial miners in China had been using and banned their operations in mid 2021.

Some operators moved their mining rigs outside China to regions with cheap or free electricity such as Kazakhstan or Armenia, but many gave up and moved on.

Since the cost of electricity in many other countries outweighs the potential gains made by Bitcoin mining, graphics card usage has declined and therefore NVIDIA stock has been volatile.

Right now, its earnings season, and NVIDIA has been in the news for having shown concern about its forthcoming earnings, given that the Bitcoin mining-related demand for graphics cards is down.

During the course of yesterday, the S&P 500 slid 0.4% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite lost 1.2%, closing down for a third consecutive day. Chip stocks are taking a beating after Micron Technology and Nvidia issued revenue warnings, dragging down the overall market with them.

It is perhaps a sign of the times, a sign that the final bastion of hardware-based computer science is coming to its nadir, but also a sign that modern innovation is once again on the march and as gas fees for other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum will likely decrease, mining and the use of such tokens for other purposes such as smart contracts is the way of the future, all of which of course aim to further the cause of paperless and hardware-free lifestyle and business operations.

Onwards and upwards.

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