The cryptocurrency boom in late 2017 not only increased the price of Bitcoin, it also increased the average mining difficulty of the digital currency. According to data from BitcoinWisdom, the Bitcoin mining difficulty in the beginning of 2017 was at 336,899,932,796 units; fast forward 14 months, the difficulty has skyrocketed to 1,590,896,927,258 units, nearly five times what the difficulty was just a year ago.
The increasing Bitcoin mining difficulty also meant that the hash power of a regular laptop is no longer enough to ensure a profitable mining experience. 5 years ago, miners were able to make almost $2 worth of Bitcoin daily with a regular laptop; today, they won’t even be able to make half of that amount in a year with that same laptop.
To stay on top of the game, miners started purchasing GPU Graphics Cards like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 and the AMD Radeon RX 580 to increase their hash power. As a result, the price of these graphics cards inflated to unprecedented levels, thanks to the 2017 GPU shortage.
Shortage of Crypto Mining Equipment Led to Theft
The shortage of mining equipment prompted a group of thieves in Iceland to go to extreme ends in order to obtain the required elements for their mining activities. According to a report by The Associated Press and Visir, this organized theft occurred over the last two months, and the list of missing items includes the following :
- 600 powerful servers specifically designed to mine Bitcoin
- 600 graphics cards
- 100 processors
- 100 power supplies
- 100 motherboards
- 100 sets of computer memory
The stolen equipment were taken in three separate thefts, which took place between December and January. Two of the three occurred inside the grounds of Advania, a server company that offers Bitcoin mining rigs, while the other remaining graphics cards and processors were allegedly taken from a home. The heist was captured on Advania’s surveillance cameras, and this evidence led to the capture of the 11 of the burglars, with two of them in custody. However, none of the stolen devices have been recovered yet.
Although there have been similar thefts in the past, the scale of this heist is unprecedented. According to an industry estimate, the combined value of all the stolen devices is allegedly worth over $2 million.
“This is a grand theft on a scale unseen before,” Police Commissioner Olafur Helgi Kjartansson said in an interview with the Associated Press. “Everything points to this being a highly organized crime.”
To solve this case, police will be tracking energy consumption levels across Iceland, in hopes that the thieves will turn on their devices and cause a strain on the power grid, allowing the authorities to track their location.