After all that talk about launching a new GPU line explicitly for cryptomining, and making sure RTX GPUs got in the hands of actual gamers, wouldn’t it be really funny if Nvidia just … made their mainline RTX GPUs good for cryptomining again?
That’s the bizarre set of circumstances Nvidia has made for itself this week, after the company astonishingly shipped a driver update that unlocked the mining potential of its RTX 3060 GPU. Nvidia confirmed in a statement to the press that their latest beta driver, 470.05, had unlocked the full hash rate of the RTX 3060 GPU despite Nvidia expressly saying only last month that their anti-mining algorithm was more secure than that.
Here’s the statement from Nvidia, as given to The Verge:
“A developer driver inadvertently included code used for internal development which removes the hash rate limiter on RTX 3060 in some configurations … The driver has been removed.”
Just for posterity, here’s Nvidia back in February talking about why they were limiting the RTX 3060’s crpytomining rate in the first place:
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.
It’s a bit awkward, really. First you spend months saying cryptocurrency isn’t really that big a factor in the Great GPU Shortage, then you launch a new line of cryptomining cards just so your very vocal gaming audience can actually buy the cards they want, and then you just … go and make the original gaming GPUs good for cryptomining again.
Not the best week for Nvidia, then. The GPU maker has pulled the beta driver offline, but it was already released publicly, so there’s nothing they can do to stop other users and forums from sharing it around. Newer RTX 3060 drivers might artificially limit the card’s hash rate, but if an Etherium/Bitcoin Bro wants to buy up the gaming GPU and use the older unlocked driver … well, there’s absolutely bugger all anyone can do about it. And what’s worse is that this will pretty much kill any interest from cryptominers in Nvidia’s crypto-specific GPUs. Those GPUs never had any resale value, whereas a regular RTX 3060 (or something else) can still be used for gaming — so, naturally, every miner will just opt for an RTX 3060 or better.
On the bright side, it’s not like there was a lot of justification for Australians to buy a RTX 3060 anyway. The card is already selling for $200 and more above its actual MSRP, completely eroding any actual value that it might have had. That puts it into the same territory that the RTX 3070 is supposed to cost in Australia, but that too has been gouged to around the $900 mark.
But hey, it’s not like you can easily buy a PS5 or an Xbox Series X either. So I guess we’ll all wait until Christmas?