Yesterday, Nvidia announced that the RTX 3060 would limit hashing power when it detected Ethereum mining, but Nvidia was oddly specific about Ethereum. That made us wonder: What about other coins? After all, Ethereum isn’t the only crypto coin out there, and new coins and algorithms come out on a regular basis.
As it turns out, we were right to wonder about this. The RTX 3060 implements vBIOS and driver protections to detect when it is mining Ethereum. But as found by YouTuber CryptoLeo, it will still happily mine other coins, as if it has no idea that it’s still mining coins at full power… because… well… it doesn’t know better.
Leo tested a Pre-NDA RTX 3060 GPU with coins such as Octopus, Cortex, and a handful more, and found that with the first two the GPU is still able to generate about $6.5 in profits per day… which is enough to still make it attractive to miners, and not what gamers were hoping for.
Of course, these coins aren’t as popular as Ethereum due to overall lower profitability, so it makes sense that Nvidia targeted Ethereum coin mining with the hashing limiter. But it makes you wonder: Was it all just a complicated PR stunt to regain some popularity with gamers?
Why Not Just Gimp All Hashing?
Of course, we’re all asking ourselves the same question, but the solution isn’t quite that simple. Creating a general limiting algorithm for when crypto-mining behavior is detected is harder than one would think for one simple reason: How do you make it distinguish between coin mining and other non-gaming GPU workloads that can look like mining, such as machine learning, cryptography, or graphical work with Adobe products? Maybe that last one is easier, but GPUs are fully programmable for a reason.
As a result, if the Ethereum protocol were to change even slightly, for example, the update to Ethereum 2.0 with the new Proof-of-Stake mining model, the entire mining limiter would likely cease to be useful. But that’s still quite a ways away, so the main issue, for now, remains other profitable coins and the risk of someone finding a workaround for the in-vBIOS detection.
We’re scratching our heads about how well the measure will be useful to limiting the RTX 3060’s appeal to miners. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see to find out. The RTX 3060 is slated to launch on the 25th of February for $329 — but we all know it’s going to cost a lot more than that, especially if miners do set their sights on it. The Ampere GPUs were already selling out faster than Nvidia could make them before the recent surge in mining profitability, and the underlying problem (not enough supply) isn’t going away any time soon.