Crypto-Currency Mining Fueled Radeon R9 Series Demand is probably great for AMD in the long run. The internet is going crazy about how the crypto-currency mining demand is going to hurt AMD, especially the gaming side of the equation. I have a different take on this. I think this is going to help AMD in the long run. Before I write any further, let me be clear is that this is my opinion and perspective and opinions vary from person to person.
Currently AMD R9 series cards are hard to find as crypto-currency miners are gobbling up the cards at whatever price they can get. On one side any demand is good demand for AMD as that helps it bottom line, but on the other hand lot of gamers are not able to buy the cards. Many tech sites and bloggers are suggesting that this will hurt the long term plans AMD has for gaming as gamers will jump ship to Nvidia's cards. Let's assume that of all cards that AMD is selling, 90% of those are going to crypto-currency miners. However the 10% of the cards that gamers have bought are probably being used to play games with "MANTLE" enabled. Prospectively there are plenty of gamers who would like to buy AMD graphic cards but either cannot buy or will not buy at this point in time. Now, Mantle is still in its early days, and despite that it has been providing very good performance gains. Hence, gamers have got a hint of the gaming performance boost Mantle can provide.
Numerous tech-sites and people are cribbing that the performance boost is often only 15-25% higher in majority of cases and up to 40% in only some games and that it is not enough. Well I would like to respectfully tell those people that Mantle provides that additional performance increase "FREE", if one had a card and playing a game that is Mantle enabled. Mantle enables acceptable gaming without spending a lot of money and in fact makes lot of games playable without high end gaming rigs. A widely read tech site, Anandtech.com mentioned that they would be providing in-depth performance analysis and benchmark for Mantle within the next week or two after the initial preview was released on February 1st, but for some reason those detailed evaluation haven't arrived yet. Below is a quote from anandtech.com, "Today we'll be looking at just the average framerates, but be sure to come back next week for our full evaluation………..". Probably the site was busy with writing reviews for the Nvidia's new cards and Intel's new XEON and decided to put the Mantle analysis on the back burner or for some reasons known only to them did not publish additional evaluation article on Mantle. Sooner or later, the benefits and advantages of Mantle will come forward and I think there will be more acceptance of the technology. Gamers are demanding and expecting the tech sites to write fair, unbiased reviews and benchmarks for Mantle, free from the influences some big companies might have on those sites and I hope we will see those soon.
Now, let's go back to why the current huge demand of the cards from the crypto-currency miners might help AMD in furthering its gaming cause. Since many gamers haven't been able to buy the card now, means that AMD has got some extra time to fix and refine those drivers for Mantle before majority of gamers can or will get the card. Also, lots of gamers are actually waiting for Mantle to be in better shape before they go and buy an AMD graphic card. Any extra time AMD gets to refine Mantle will lead to better game play experience and performance gains for gamers. If the gamers get the cards after say another month or whenever the crypto-currency mining craze is over, the drivers for Mantle will probably be in better shape than they are now. This will lead to better performance and game play experience for whoever buys those cards for gaming and if the experience is good I am sure more cards will sell. As more Mantle enabled games are released, the better the chances AMD cards will get more popular among gamers and that will have a good effect on the demand of the cards. I am sure AMD is not looking at a short term horizon with its gaming strategy. It is probably looking to sell more cards with every new game that is released and it will have enough time to sell its cards.
In summary, Mantle is in its infancy and as this year goes along, AMD will get in better shape selling its technology and its gaming strategy. Hence I think this demand from crypto-currency miners is providing some extra time to AMD to get its drivers in shape and be ready to sell graphic cards to gamers when the crypto-currency craze subsides.
Disclosure: I am long AMD.