Ethereum is aiming to end GPU mining on September 19th. According to Tim Beiko, miners should stop buying new mining equipment in preparation for the merger. When the merger occurs, the difficulty of mining Ethereum will skyrocket due to the “difficulty bomb”, a mechanism designed to eliminate the incentive to mine Ethereum in favor of staking. Over the past year, the difficulty of mining on the Ethereum blockchain has been steadily increasing due to the growing number of GPUs actively mining ETH.
Many people believe that burning so much energy into mining money from the Internet is not right, so calls for cryptocurrencies to move to a more sustainable proof-of-stake algorithm have been intensifying. Ethereum is taking this step. These miners are designed from the ground up to mine a cryptocurrency very efficiently, meaning they can produce more hash rate with less electricity. The difficulty bomb will make mining Ethereum worthless, so miners will have to transition to a different currency or sell their graphics cards in favor of staking.
There are other Proof of Work cryptocurrencies that can be mined with consumer hardware for profit; however, with many Ethereum miners looking for new coins to mine, these alternative options may no longer be profitable. This centrality can be seen once again in China's crypto mining ban; while Ethereum saw a decline of approximately 20%, Bitcoin lost nearly 50% of its total hashing power, demonstrating that a large part of total Bitcoin mining came from certain regions of China. The profitability of mining these altcoins fluctuates, but they are generally 30-50% less profitable than mining Ethereum at any given time.