New GeForce drivers reveal Nvidia's next crypto mining counterstrike

nvidia geforce rtx graphics card generic image ces 2021Image: Nvidia

It may be impossible to buy a graphics card right now, but the new Game Ready 466.27 drivers released today just tipped off Nvidia’s next counterstrike in the war against cryptocurrency miners. The company accidentally cracked its own anti-mining “hashrate limiter” introduced alongside the GeForce RTX 3060 but it’s coming back for a second round of restrictions, and these ones could be even more extensive.

In the “new features” section of the 466.27 driver release notes, you’ll find the following note: “This driver updates the hash limiter for the GeForce RTX 3060 12GB and is required for product shipped starting mid-May.”

That alone would be intriguing enough, but just yesterday, reputable leak site Videocardz reported that Nvidia plans to start shipping a “Lite Hash Rate” series for the GeForce RTX 30-series graphics cards starting in mid-May. These refreshed silicon iterations won’t perform any differently in gaming workloads than the original versions of the RTX 3060 Ti, 3070, 3080, and 3090, nor will they be marketed as new products with new names, if Videocardz’s report proves true (and the note in Nvidia’s new drivers certainly adds credence to it). But the new, slightly tweaked GPUs will require new drivers, and it looks like they’ll sport Nvidia’s latest anti-mining technology. Videocardz reports the new silicon with an older name will also add in native Resizable BAR support for increased performance in compatible systems.

[ Further reading: Best graphics cards for PC gaming ]

evga geforce rtx 3060 xc black gaming 1 Brad Chacos/IDG

EVGA’s GeForce RTX 3060 XC Black Gaming.

We’d also expect those features (including the updated hash limiter) to come stock in any new GeForce releases as well, such as the long-rumored RTX 3070 Ti and 3080 Ti.

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“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,” Nvidia’s Matt Wuebbling said while announcing the first doomed iteration of the technology. Any graphics card that can’t bypass the hash limiter, new or old, would be significantly less profitable for mining cryptocoins.

Industrious miners may very well wind up cracking Nvidia’s impending anti-mining features, because there’s a lot of money floating around Ethereum, Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies, and big money lets mining farms pay developers dedicated to crafting custom software as needed. Nvidia, conversely, wants miners paying up for its new CMP HX crypto cards instead. But if Nvidia’s countermeasures prove successful, PC gamers may finally be able to start buying GPUs regularly—though mining isn’t the only reason graphics card cost so much right now.

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