NVIDIA Is Taking a Fierce Anti-Mining Stance for RTX 3060

By Bill Toulas / February 19, 2021

NVIDIA wants the upcoming (next week) GeForce RTX 3060 to end up in the hands of gamers and not to get snatched by cryptocurrency miners and Ethereum in particular. Obviously, the emergency solutions of pumping older cards into the market aren’t even remotely satisfactory to the category of users looking to play modern AAA titles with ray-tracing and DLSS AI-based rendering systems. Also, anti-bot systems have failed spectacularly to keep any availability for actual people, so a radical solution had to be developed.

What NVIDIA is doing now with the RTX 3060 is introducing a special sub-system in the drivers to detect specific attributes of the Ethereum cryptocurrency mining algorithm and drop the hash rate to make the mining efficiency 50% worse. So, essentially, the card will artificially drop its performance significantly when the user attempts to mine Ethereum with it. As such, NVIDIA hopes that it will be a lot less lucrative for miners, and so gamers will finally get to enjoy product stocks and general availability.

Of course, NVIDIA cannot disregard miners completely, as they are still a very significant portion of graphics card sales. For this reason, the company announces the NVIDIA CMP (Cryptocurrency Mining Processor) product line, which will be specifically optimized for mining. These cards won’t even output graphics and will feature a lower peak core voltage and frequency, so they will have a vastly improved power efficiency. This way, gamers will get their GPUs, and miners will focus on their line.

That is at least NVIDIA’s plan here, which is admittedly good on paper. In reality, we may see miners tapping on gaming GPUs due to the depletion of CMP stocks, as the ever-rising value of cryptos makes any investment - even inefficient ones - quite profitable. And then there’s the question of how well NVIDIA can cover the demand for both CMP and gaming GPUs, considering the finite production output that has been bottlenecking everything thus far.

Also, we shouldn’t undermine the chances of hackers releasing unofficial drivers for the locked cards, which won’t throttle their performance when mining crypto. That one will be tough to do considering the closed source nature of NVIDIA’s products, but nothing is impossible. Finally, the mining algorithms themselves may be changed or passed through a translation layer to evade detection from NVIDIA’s driver, which is again complicated but not unlikely.

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