The mysterious demise of 61 AMD Radeon RX 6000-series graphics cards appears to have been solved by a German YouTuber. Widely reported earlier this month, a large batch of these powerful graphics cards were suddenly and mysteriously failing, a number of which with cracked silicon, all within range of a single German repair shop.
So what was the culprit? A manufacturing error? A sudden EMP burst above the local area? A witch’s curse? It seems to be a much simpler reason, and it’s a fatal pairing of cryptocurrency mining and poor storage that seems to be the culprit.
A number of initial theories were proven right, and rather than being some sort of wild coding error on AMD’s part, it’s highly likely these particular cards were part of a mass selloff of components after the price of crypto crashed. According to German YouTuber KrisFix, it’s likely these cards were sold off for cheap once mining for cryptocurrency became pointless -- but before then, were stored poorly for some time, probably to see whether the price of cryptocurrency recovered.
KrisFix’s theory posits that the cards were stored in an area with variable or inappropriate temperatures, and humidity levels. Despite any usual efforts being made by those reselling the components -- allowing the parts to fully dry, breathe at room temperature, and then acclimatize -- the effects of the soaking from the humidity were simply too much for the cards to sustain after strenuous activity, and it led to the silicon cracking.
It’s not hard to see this as a cautionary tale for the dangers of the components market following the crash of the cryptocurrency market, though there’s not much anyone could have done to have foreseen this. A full dehumidifying session may have been able to save the cards, but that would be a tough sell for every second hand component on the market. The key element for the failure here seems to have been the humidity soaking the cards, rather than the impact of the crypto mining, and so, it’s by sheer dumb luck that these cards were confined to a future of failure.