Nvidia has announced a couple of interesting initiatives to try and clearly separate the awkward bedfellows of PC gaming and crypto-currency mining. First of all, with the release of the GeForce RTX 3060 GPU (12GB) on 25th Feb, the launch driver will detect crypto-mining activity and half the hardware's hash rate. Secondly, Nvidia has announced a range of GPUs to specifically address the needs of Ethereum mining. These new headless GPUs will be dubbed the Nvidia CMP (Cryptocurrency Mining Processor) line. Please read on to try and understand Nvidia's reasoning for the above decisions, and how it thinks it has closed any loopholes.
When the GeForce RTX 3060 12GB is launched the drivers that support it will automatically limit hash rate speeds. Obviously Nvidia doesn't want to disclose too much about how it detects mining activity and throttles it but it is said to be a driver side solution and Windows and Linux drivers will both limit hash rates.
If this limiter sounds a little easy to hack or bypass, Nvidia has asserted in a follow-up communication with PC Gamer that "the software cannot be hacked to remove the limiter." It almost sounds dangerous to be so dismissive of the hacking community.
Another important point about the RTX 3060 launch drivers are that the newest GeForce drivers from that date won't affect GPU hash rates for GeForce hardware released previously. Such a retrospective nerf would not be as effective as miners, not interested in new gaming graphics features, could just use the older driver sets.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and we will see in the coming weeks and months if the RTX 3060 has much better availability and doesn't get hacked to enable its full ETH mining potential. The GeForce RTX 3060 12GB will become available starting 25th Feb.
The other half of Nvidia's pincer movement on crypto miners is to release a range of dedicated GPUs for pro miners, tuned for low voltage efficiency. You can read about the first four Nvidia CMP HX processors on the official product pages. The specs table is below, alongside a die shot of a CMP GPU.
How do those quoted hash rates compare to existing RTX 30 series graphics cards? Surprisingly, not that well, as a 290W RTX 3090 is capable of 121MH/s, a 224W RTX 3080 can do 98MH/s, a 117W RTX 3070 can achieve 62MH/s, and at 117W the RTX 3060 Ti is capable of 60MH/s. AMD cards like the Radeon RX 6800 XT, for example, aren't quite such good choices for ETH, as at 147W it can only achieve 60MH/s.
Hopefully the CMP processors make financial sense to miners as they can't be repurposed for gamers later in their lives. They lack not just the outputs on the bracket but the necessary output support on the chip. Nvidia explains further that CMP GPUs "don’t meet the specifications required of a GeForce GPU and, thus, don’t impact the availability of GeForce GPUs to gamers."
Do HEXUS readers reckon Nvidia's RTX 3060 driver patching and launch of CMP solutions is going to make a difference to gaming GPU supply? Let us know your thoughts below.