Litecoin mining has quietly undergone a sharp rise in popularity in recent days. The cryptocurrency is an alternative to Bitcoin, which recently saw a meteoric rise in value to about $1200 before dropping off and settling in at the mid-$800 range. Litecoin's sudden breakout has resulted in a worldwide run on graphics cards used in mining Litecoins.
ExtremeTech has done some sleuthing, and it found last week that certain GPUs (graphics processing units) were no longer available at many retailers, likely having been bought out by Litecoin miners. High-end AMD Radeon GPUs were cited as one of the sold-out models. Newegg and Amazon, among many other retailers, have recently found their high-end GPU shelves empty.
As further evidence that Litecoin miners are the cause of the strange disappearance of GPUs, the site posted a screen grab of the Litecoin network hash rate. It seems the network has seen a strong upswing in activity. This all but confirms the fact that Litecoin is now the cost-effective choice of cryptocurrency miners using GPUs.
Much of the surge in scrypt-based Litecoin mining is likely due to the fact that Bitcoin is no longer a power-efficient currency for mining using GPUs -- or, even less powerful, CPUs (central processing units.) Most of Litecoin's new miners are Bitcoin converts.