The day that Nvidia announced their CMP HX Mining GPUs they also noted that newly released RTX 3060 GPUs would be hashrate limited for mining by 50%. This move was directly in response to the latest video card drought – finding Nvidia RTX cards was next to impossible then, and is today, too.
They didn’t mention which algorithms they were limiting, but in the past few weeks it appears they were focused specifically on the Ethash algorithm, required to mine Ethereum.
Nvidia RTX Cards that are Hashrate Limited
At the time of writing this the only card which has been singled out is the RTX 3060. But, industry insiders believe, gamers hope, and miners fear that there rest of the RTX line will go the same way as the 3060.
Known Nvidia Hashrate Limited Cards
- Nvidia GeForce 3060 – Hashrate limited by 50%
If other cards are subject to the same fate as the RTX 3060 we’ll add them to the list.
Why is Nvidia Reducing RTX Card Hashrates?
The move is a coordinated attempt to stratify the gaming and mining customers. First by developing mining-specific GPUs video cards, and second by making those intended for gamers less profitable for miners.
According to a press release, RTX 3060 GPUs that were to follow would have a sophisticated handshake between hardware and firmware to make it difficult to un-do the limiter, too. The CMP video cards aren’t worth anything to a gamer – they made sure of that by not including any video out whatsoever.
In the press release with Nvidia’s high-wire approach they stated “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.” But, miners have largely approached the situation with frustration. They want to be able to mine with the best possible GPUs without limitation and enjoy resale values when they cards become less profitable.
Previous Attempts at Mining-Specific GPUs
Years ago, AMD came out with a link of mining-only GPUs. Those cards were made in response to the same challenges that we face today. The cards weren’t very popular, but they did sell. But, not many were manufactured in the first place.
But, we may see AMD mining-specific GPUs once again. PCGamesN notes “it looks like AMD may combat stock issues in the same way, reserving its Radeon RX 6000 cards for gamers rather than miners. A Linux kernel driver patch list discovered by Phoronix mentions an RDNA 1, Navi 12-based GPU without display outputs, which suggests AMD could release mining-dedicated chips of its own.”
If you’re an AMD miner or want to learn more, you can read the entire article over on PCGamesN.
Circumventing the Hashrate Limiter
There have been reports of the hashrate limiter being overcome. This was surprising since Nvidia indicated that they used a fairly robust method as opposed to a software-only approach.
The first report of a bypass turned out to be miners that were not mining Ethash, the algorithm necessary to mine Ethereum. They were instead mining using the Octopus algorithm, likely mining CFX tokens which are the next-best thing to Ethereum for many Nvidia cards.
There have been other rumors of workarounds, but there isn’t any proof or software patch that is in the wild. We’ll keep our eyes open and update this page as we learn more. But, out of nowhere, Nvidia made any efforts at an end-around seem far less complex to figure out.
How? They accidentally released a driver which would unlock the full potential of hashrate limited 3060s. That’s not a headline for an article in The Onion. They really did that.
Why Single Out and Limit Ethereum Mining Only?
it’s actually not Ethereum, but the algorithm behind it, Ethash, that Nvidia has has focused on. But, Ethereum is on a multi-year path to change over from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of -Stake. While the date when Ethereum Proof-of-Work will end isn’t clear, and could be more than a year or two away, the process is underway. But, when it does happen, you won’t be mining Ethereum with the kind of GPU Mining Rig we focus on here.
When this happens, we do not believe that miners will stop mining. We believe they will do what we will be doing and simply move to the next most profitable option. That option will most likely be mining a different cryptocurrency, possibly a different algorithm. It could also be leasing their hardware for video render work or retooling and leasing out machine learning time. But, our bet is it’ll be simply moving to the next best coin.
Today, for instance, we’re mining CFX. While we are making 25% to 33% less than if we were mining Ethereum, it is profitable. The ROI works out. And, we chose this coin because we believe in the long-term upside delivering large gains, even larger than Ethereum.
CFX uses a different algorithm, Octopus. So, then what? Will Nvidia end up in a whack-a-mole of continually creating cards which are hashrate limited for more and more algorithms?
Our Take on Nvidia’s Hashrate Limited Strategy
While we understand the frustration with miners not being able to get any hardware to build out new miners, and acknowledge that resale rates will be far less on dedicated mining GPUs, there still may be a win-win situation.
We had seen some speculative pricing for mining-only cards. And, it’s easy to find the MSRP prices for RTX cards intended for gaming. If the prices come in the way they could, buying a mining version of a 3060 would be less than 1/3 of what miners are paying today.
And, if miners can buy hashrate limited hardware at a reasonable price, and modding RTX cards is difficult or prohibitive, prices for gaming and general computing could come down to earth, too.