Nvidia Driver For New GPU Card Restricts Cryptomining

Nvidia has taken steps to address the global shortage of GPU (graphics processing unit) cards for gamers and digital artists.

The GPU giant announced last week that with the upcoming launch of its new GeForce RTX 3060 card, it has implemented some changes to ensure it remains in the hands of gamers and not ecurrency miners.

To this end it said the RTX 3060 card is “tailored to meet the needs of gamers and those who create digital experiences.” It has deliberately reduced the efficiency of its latest card by 50 percent when it is used to mine the crypto-currency Ethereum. And it is now also offering a bespoke crypto-currency mining processor.

Price gouging GPUs

Nvidia made the announcement in a blog posting on the matter.

“We are gamers, through and through,” said the firm. “We designed GeForce GPUs for gamers, and gamers are clamouring for more.”

“Yet Nvidia GPUs are programmable,” it added. “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.”

“With the launch of GeForce RTX 3060 on 25 February, we’re taking an important step to help ensure GeForce GPUs end up in the hands of gamers,” it said. “RTX 3060 software drivers are designed to detect specific attributes of the Ethereum cryptocurrency mining algorithm, and limit the hash rate, or cryptocurrency mining efficiency, by around 50 percent.”

Nvidia is taking this action because of the problems caused by those snapping up new GPU cards for cryptomining, which has regularly resulted in new GPU cards being sold out almost as soon as they are released.

This GPU shortage has also resulted in unscrupulous people and indeed certain big name electronic stores, bulk buying GPU cards and then price gouging the cards (i.e selling the cards in some cases for double the recommended retail price).

Nvidia CMP

In effort to stop cryptominers snapping up GPU cards intended for the gaming sector, Nvidia has announced Nvidia CMP, or, Cryptocurrency Mining Processor, product line for professional mining.

“CMP products – which don’t do graphics – are sold through authorised partners and optimised for the best mining performance and efficiency,” said the firm. “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,” it said. “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,” the firm said. “With CMP, we can help miners build the most efficient data centres while preserving GeForce RTX GPUs for gamers.”

ARM protests

In July last year, Nvidia overtook chip giant Intel to become the most valuable chipmaker in the United States, despite not actually making any of its own chips.

But the company is not having everything its own way.

Last week it emerged that Alphabet, Qualcomm and Microsoft were opposing the proposed sale of British chip designer ARM Holdings to Nvidia.

Last month the UK competition regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), confirmed it would investigate Nvidia’s acquisition of ARM.

On top of this UK probe, the European Commission and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have also launched their own investigations into the matter.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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