Graphics card manufacturer Nvidia has reintroduced a feature that limits crypto mining on its flagship RTX 3060 GPU, a month after a previous update accidentally removed the feature and enabled crypto miners to make use of the cards.
Nvidia has had a thorny relationship with crypto miners, who use its GPUs for the number-crunching required to mine proof-of-work cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum. The recent crypto bull run has seen miners snap up the cards, which were designed to power high-end gaming PCs—resulting in shortages and spiraling prices.
Facing mounting anger from gamers, Nvidia introduced hash rate limiters on its gaming GPUs, which throttle the cards’ mining performance. But a March beta driver release inadvertently allowed miners to bypass Nvidia’s restrictions, once again enabling the RTX 3060 to be used for crypto mining.
Now Nvidia has released the new GeForce 466.27 driver, which reinstates the hash rate limit. According to videocardz.com, future RTX 3060 cards will prevent them from being used with older drivers—such as the beta driver that removed hash rate restrictions.
Separately, the company is also working on an updated version of “Lite Hash Rate” GPUs across other RTX 30-series cards; the cards will limit hash rates, making them of limited value to crypto miners. How the company intends to accomplish this—and whether it’ll be through software, hardware or a combination of both—has yet to be disclosed.
The GPU mining landscape
Nvidia is walking a tightrope, attempting to balance the needs of its core PC gaming customer base with the expanding crypto mining market.
Nvidia has announced a dedicated card designed for crypto miners, the Nvidia CMP, which has reportedly demonstrated performance comparable to that of a RTX 3060 in tests. Miners are already snapping them up; Hut 8 Mining Corp, has placed an order for $30 million worth of the cards, while Nvidia has raised its 2022 first-quarter revenue projection for the crypto mining cards to $150 million.
Meanwhile, Nvidia rival AMD has announced that it won’t try to throttle hash rate on its gaming GPUs—while stressing that they’re designed with gamers in mind.
The long-running dispute between miners and gamers may be set to fizzle out soon, though. Most GPUs are used for mining Ethereum; Bitcoin miners have long since moved on to more powerful ASIC miners.
But Ethereum is shifting over from the computationally-intensive proof-of-work consensus mechanism to the less demanding proof-of-stake model, which doesn’t require miners at all.
It’ll make the switch with the long-awaited Ethereum 2.0 upgrade. As a result, the crypto industry could be set to lose its voracious appetite for GPUs—something that will leave gamers feeling like they’ve hit a high score.