Cryptocurrencies have not only changed the way some see and exchange money, it has also changed how some companies make and sell computer components. By moving money to the purely digital realm, cryptocurrencies have also shifted the burden of “making” to computer hardware. CPUs and GPUs are the prime targets, but now even SSDs are also fair game. The latter, however, might be on the losing end of the wear and tear battle, forcing SSD makers to make changes to their warranty policies, sometimes in questionable and bewildering ways like what Micron’s Crucial consumer SSD brand almost did.
Most of the cryptocurrencies you may have heard of are utilizing processing power as the primary mechanism for minting new currencies. Given the simultaneous number-crunching involved, attention was unsurprisingly shifted to GPUs that are better at handling such tasks. The relatively new Chia cryptocurrency is unique in being one of the very few that uses storage space as the resource instead.
Cryptomining is a very process-intensive task that could quickly shorten the lifespan of the components used for these puproses. This new situation has forced CPU, GPU, and storage manufacturers to adjust their policies to account for the new use case, even if they generally frown upon their precious hardware being used in such a manner. Storage space is even more at risk since even SSDs have a limited number of write processes before they lose their ability to hold data accurately, though that number is often in the millions.
It seems that Crucial’s knee-jerk reaction was to make cryptomining activities a special case. For a brief moment, its new warranty policy stated that using SSDs for any mining activity like cryptomining or data mining immediately voids the product’s warranty. It quickly backtracked on that change but not before Tom’s Hardware saved the evidence for posterity.
Crucial’s new SSD warranty policy now expires either after a certain number of years or after reaching a certain number of Total Bytes Written (TBW), whichever of the two comes first. Given how Chia mining eats through SSDs, those SSDs might not last years in the service anyway. Of course, the decision on how to legally use data storage should be up to the users, but those users should also be aware of the consequences of putting hardware to unintended use.