Nvidia have announced they're limiting the hash rate of their upcoming RTX 3060 GPU in order to make the latest member of their next-gen graphics card family less desirable to cryptocurrency miners. Nvidia have called this "an important step to help ensure GeForce GPUs end up in the hands of gamers" when the RTX 3060 launches on February 25th next week, and they've also launched a new, separate line of Nvidia CMP (or cryptocurrency mining processor) cards to help with this even further.
"We designed GeForce GPUs for gamers, and gamers are clamoring for more," Nvidia said in a blog post. "Yet Nvidia GPUs are programmable. And users are constantly discovering new applications for them, from weather simulation and gene sequencing to deep learning and robotics. Mining cryptocurrency is one of them."
To help deter potential miners from snapping up large swathes of (probably very limited) RTX 3060 stock next week, Nvidia will be releasing a software driver that will be able to automatically detect when the card is being used for mining, and limit its hash rate by around 50%. The hash rate is what miners use to measure the speed of any cryptocurrency mining device, so halving this figure will make the card a lot less efficient when it comes to doing the actual mining.
By nuking the RTX 3060's mining credentials like this, the hope is that miners will gravitate instead toward Nvidia's dedicated line-up of newly-announced CMP cards. There are four cards in total, and will be available from Asus, Colorful, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI, and Palit.
"CMP products — which don’t do graphics — are sold through authorized partners and optimized for the best mining performance and efficiency," according to Nvidia. "They don’t meet the specifications required of a GeForce GPU and, thus, don’t impact the availability of GeForce GPUs to gamers. For instance, CMP lacks display outputs, enabling improved airflow while mining so they can be more densely packed. CMPs also have a lower peak core voltage and frequency, which improves mining power efficiency.
"Creating tailored products for customers with specific needs delivers the best value for customers. With CMP, we can help miners build the most efficient data centers while preserving GeForce RTX GPUs for gamers.
It's a welcome step forward, to be sure, although I'm 99.9% certain that the RTX 3060 will still sell-out within minutes when it launches next Thursday regardless. Stock levels of next-gen graphic cards and CPUs have been extremely tight across the globe since the end of last year, and they continue to sell-out almost instantly whenever new stock does manage to trickle in. The situation isn't likely to improve for several months, either, as both Nvidia and AMD have said they're still struggling to meet demand. Nvidia recently told investors that GPU stock levels "will likely remain lean through Q1," for example (and that's the end of their first fiscal quarter - April - not calendar quarter - March - I might add), while AMD are saying we'll likely see stock problems until the end of June.
It's a bad time all round for those looking to upgrade their PC, but still, if GPU manufacturers can make their cards as unappealing as possible to hordes of cryptominers out there, here's hoping things will improve sooner rather than later.