We’re living in a perfect storm for GPU price inflation — cryptocurrency mining is on the rise, as is interest in gaming during the pandemic. There’s also a global semiconductor shortage at the moment. The result: even if you can find a high-end GPU, it’ll probably cost at least twice what it should. Nvidia hopes to combat this with the upcoming RTX 3060, which will have its crypto mining capabilities nerfed. The company has now clarified its plans, saying it won’t make crypto changes to any existing GPUs.
Nvidia raised eyebrows when it announced the restrictions for its next RTX video card. Using driver-level limits, the RTX 3060 will be limited to 50 percent of the usual Etherium hash rate. So, why just Etherium? Nvidia says Etherium is the only popular cryptocurrency that benefits heavily from GPU-based mining. The hope is that by intentionally handicapping the cards for this one, very specific use case, that the supply for gamers will increase.
In place of RTX cards, Nvidia wants miners to buy one of its upcoming CMP (Crypto-Mining Processor) cards. These parts don’t have video output capabilities, but most of the internal components should be identical to RTX video cards. Nvidia has said RTX supply won’t be impacted by CMP production because these chips “could not meet the specifications of GeForce.” That vague wording suggests Nvidia is binning chips, a common practice across the industry that involves selling chips with minor manufacturing errors as lower-tiered models.
Knowing that Nvidia could just slash the hash rate of GPUs at the driver level has naturally led some to wonder if changes are coming to other RTX cards. After all, if Nvidia wants miners to buy CMP cards, nerfing RTX cards would certainly drive adoption. However, Nvidia says that’s not going to happen — no existing GPUs will see forced hash rate changes.
The fate of future GPU models will probably depend on how the CMP launch goes. The first mining-specific Nvidia cards will launch in the first quarter of the year, with more to follow later. Still, the RTX 3060 is a mid-range model. People buying the top-of-the-line hardware might balk at any mining limits. Still, it’s possible future high-end video cards will have limits on Etherium mining if CMP takes off. That might not be all bad if it means gamers can buy cards at (or at least within spitting distance of) MSRP.
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