How long the mining boom will last is the million-dollar question. As long as Ethereum prices spike on an almost daily basis, demand from the mining market will remain massive. Today there are two snippets of news from NVIDIA that concern the mining market.
First up, the company is taking direct action to reduce the mining appeal of GeForce gaming video cards. The green team says the upcoming GeForce RTX 3060, which launches on February 25th, will have code to detect specific attributes of the Ethereum mining algorithm. NVIDIA claims its new driver will roughly halve the cryptocurrency mining efficiency of the RTX 3060. I assume that for legal reasons, this performance cap will not be implemented for existing Ampere GPUs.
Whether a software-based performance cap will be enough is a big question mark. I can imagine that it won't take long until the mining community finds a way to circumvent the driver-based limitations.
The second big news item is the introduction of the CMP (Cryptocurrency Mining Processor). These are GPUs designed exclusively for cryptocurrency mining, they will be sold through authorized NVIDIA partners like ASUS, Colorful, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI, Palit, and PC Partner. According to NVIDIA, the CMP will not impact the availability of GeForce GPUs to gamers. That sounds a tad optimistic as these chips are made in the same factories that are currently struggling to produce enough GeForce GPUs.
NVIDIA has four CMPs; the 30HX, 40HX, 50HX, and 90HX. The first two models have an Ethereum hash rate of 26MH/s and 36MH/s, respectively, they will ship later this quarter. The other two models follow in Q2 2020, they have a hash rate of 45MH/s and 86MH/s, respectively. These cards lack display outputs and are not suitable for gaming.
Here is the full message from NVIDIA:
We are gamers, through and through. We obsess about new gaming features, new architectures, new games and tech. We designed GeForce GPUs for gamers, and gamers are clamoring for more.
Yet NVIDIA GPUs are programmable. 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 Feb. 25, we’re taking an important step to help ensure GeForce GPUs end up in the hands of gamers.
Halving Hash Rate
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.
That only makes sense. Our GeForce RTX GPUs introduce cutting-edge technologies — such as RTX real-time ray-tracing, DLSS AI-accelerated image upscaling technology, Reflex super-fast response rendering for the best system latency, and many more — tailored to meet the needs of gamers and those who create digital experiences.
To address the specific needs of Ethereum mining, we’re announcing the NVIDIA CMP, or, Cryptocurrency Mining Processor, product line for professional mining.
CMP products — which don’t do graphics — are sold through authorized partners and optimized for the best mining performance and efficiency. 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. 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. With CMP, we can help miners build the most efficient data centers while preserving GeForce RTX GPUs for gamers.