The demand for high-powered graphics processing units (GPUs) has been very high since cryptocurrencies became popular. First gamers were displeased with the lack of supply for GPUs, and now SETI is complaining as well.
SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) cannot find the GPUs needed to improve their two observatories in Green Bank in West Virginia and Parkes in Australia, because of the recent shortage.
“We’ve got the money, we’ve contacted the vendors, and they say, ‘We just don’t have them’,” said Dr. Werthimer to BBC.
Dr. Dan Werthimer is the chief scientist at Berkeley University’s SETA Research Center, and he also told BBC:
“We’d like to use the latest GPUs [graphics processing units]… and we can’t get ’em,”
Dr. Werthimer added:
“That’s limiting our search for extra-terrestrials, to try to answer the question, ‘Are we alone? Is there anybody out there?’,”
“This is a new problem, it’s only happened on orders we’ve been trying to make in the last couple of months.”
Cryptocurrency miners are using GPUs from brands like AMD and Nvidia to build their ‘mines’, but the companies can’t keep up with the demand. That has resulted in higher prices and caused a big shortage. The SETI researchers need the high-performance GPUs to scan communications frequencies to ensure they don’t miss out on alien’s potential call.