Nvidia has announced that it will take steps to ensure RTX 3060 GPUs wind up in the hands of gamers, not crypto miners. On Thursday, the company said it would launch a new lineup of CMP (Crypto-Mining Processor) cards, while also restricting the maximum performance of the RTX 3060 when mining Ethereum.
RTX 3060 GPUs will only mine Ethereum at 50 percent of their potential hash rate due to driver-level restrictions. According to Nvidia, its new CMP cards will run at full speed. These cards lack video outputs and they offer both lower peak voltage and lower maximum core clocks, in order to improve mining efficiency.
Nvidia claims CMPs shouldn’t be referred to as video cards or GPUs because they lack the fundamental hardware to fulfill that role. This is true, as far as it goes, but it’s not because the cards actually lack support for “RTX real-time ray-tracing, DLSS AI-accelerated image upscaling technology, [and] Reflex super-fast response rendering for the best system latency.” All of that capability is still baked into the CMP — you just can’t make practical use of it.
Nvidia’s push to rebrand mining GPUs as “CMPs” makes some objective sense, since you literally can’t use these cards for gaming or video output, but an actual custom-designed CMP wouldn’t just be missing some video outputs.
A custom processor designed for mining Ethereum would be considered a specific type of ASIC. A GPU design repurposed for mining Ethereum without any additional customization work would at least include additional processing cores rather than dedicating the physical silicon to useless gaming features. Nvidia calling this iteration of the RTX 3060 a CMP makes sense from a marketing perspective, but from a technical one you’d expect the chip to be a little more specialized than these cards actually are.
Will This Actually Help Anything?
We’re glad to see Nvidia trying to fix this situation, but it’s not clear how much this is going to help. We should see some improvement in RTX 3060 availability, but GPUs are hard to find right now across the product spectrum, and that means there’s additional upward price pressure on any available GPU, even if we ignore cryptocurrency mining demand.
If TSMC and Samsung are currently capacity-constrained and shipping every chip they can manufacture, then splitting the pile of RTX 3060 GPUs into “CMP” and “GPU” buckets just means there are less chips available to fill demand in both segments. Unmet demand for CMP cards will waterfall into the GPU space, even if GPUs are disfavored for these workloads. Specialized cards might blunt the impact, but it’s doubtful they’ll completely offset it.
If the entire market wasn’t supply constrained, Nvidia would have more options. Well-priced CMP cards could be counted on to divert buyers from the GPU market, and there would be enough inventory to meet demand. With GPUs hard to come by at every price point and both TSMC and Samsung running at maximum production, this looks a bit more like subdividing the same pie to carve out another slice. We’d like to be wrong on this, because the semiconductor market needs all the help it can get. But it’s not clear that limiting the RTX 3060 alone in this fashion will meaningfully improve GPU supplies in and of itself. We’re hopeful this will help at the margins, but only ramping up
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