Once upon a time, graphics processing units (GPUs) weren’t used for things other than gaming, content creation, and high-level science computing. Just over ten years ago, one of the most popular uses for GPUs today—cryptocurrency—didn’t even exist.
Now, countless people around the world use GPU hardware to mine for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. That’s because GPUs offer the power necessary to efficiently mine cryptocurrency.
In a statement made on Thursday, Nvidia took a stance against using its GeForce RTX 3060 GPU hardware for cryptocurrency mining. The company plans to limit the hash rate of Ethereum mining by about 50 percent. The card’s software will reportedly be able to detect parts of the Ethereum mining algorithm to do so.
Nvidia’s latest move is designed to ensure that more GPUs end up in the hands of gamers and scientists. The company has had a difficult time keeping its hardware in-stock over the past year as more users demand extra computing power.
To make up for the change, Nvidia also announced that it will launch a new Cryptocurrency Mining Processor (CMP) that’s designed specifically for crypto miners.
While miners may be upset in the short-term, the move is ultimately a win-win situation for everyone involved. Gamers will be able to get their hands on Nvidia’s RTX 3060 cards, cryptocurrency miners will have more efficient hardware for their needs, and Nvidia can sell more processing units to all of its customers.
Without a doubt, Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3060 GPU is designed for gamers. It supports a number of next-gen features, such as real-time ray-tracing, DLSS AI-accelerated image upscaling technology, and Reflex super-fast response rendering. All of these features amplify the quality of gameplay.
The RTX 3060 is slated to launch on February 25 and will be accompanied by immense demand from consumers. Nvidia’s vice president of global GeForce marketing, Matt Wuebbling, said in a blog post, “We designed GeForce GPUs for gamers, and gamers are clamoring for more.”
Still, GPUs are also useful in many other ways. As Wuebbling notes, “Nvidia GPUs are programmable. And users are constantly discovering new applications for them, from weather simulation and gene sequencing to deep learning and robotics.”
As cryptocurrencies have reached new all-time highs in recent months, GPU demand for mining purposes has skyrocketed. At the same time, gamers and professionals have also been trying to get their hands on new graphics hardware.
Amid the global chip shortage, Nvidia is having a hard time keeping up. Many of its GPUs are selling for double or triple their retail value via third-party sites and scalpers. The move to limit crypto mining efficiency (and to launch dedicated mining hardware) should help Nvidia manage its supply chain. As a result, it will be able to get more GPUs into the hands of gamers and researchers.
Nvidia’s New CMP
Nvidia’s recent move will surely anger cryptocurrency miners. However, the company isn’t abandoning them. In fact, the move to design hardware completely dedicated to crypto mining is noteworthy.
Nvidia says that its upcoming CMP doesn’t “meet the specifications required of a GeForce GPU.” As such, rolling out the CMP won’t impact the availability or production of its GeForce GPU hardware.
That’s because the CMP doesn’t support graphics or have display outputs. For those using the hardware to mine digital coins, those features go unused anyway. Instead, Nvidia’s new CMP will have better efficiency and airflow to optimize its performance for cryptocurrency mining.