The big picture: Nvidia argues that its GeForce products are made for gamers. With cryptocurrency mining on the rise, the ongoing chip shortage and scalpers buying up inventory and reselling it for a premium, gamers have struggled to get their hands on new RTX 30 Series cards. Nvidia believes that by making its cards less desirable to mining enthusiasts, gamers will be able to more easily acquire them for a fair price.
Nvidia has officially reaffirmed its controversial stance against cryptomining – or at least, for those that elect to use RTX 30 Series for the task.
The GPU maker recently revealed that all newly manufactured GeForce RTX 3080, RTX 3070 and RTX 3060 Ti graphics cards will ship with a reduced Ethereum hash rate in place. To help differentiate the new cards from existing models, GeForce partners will label them with a “Lite Hash Rate” or “LHR” identifier.
Notably, the reduced hash rate will only apply to newly manufactured cards with the identifier, and not cards that have already been purchased.
Nvidia earlier this year announced that its newly launched RTX 3060 would ship with an unhackable mining limiter that would reduce its effectiveness by roughly 50 percent. A few weeks after launch, however, Nvidia accidentally published a beta driver for the RTX 3060 that removed the limiter.
The company isn’t totally dismissing the crypto community, however, as it recently introduced a dedicated GPU for miners. Nvidia CMP cards don’t have display outputs and “don’t meet the specifications required of a GeForce GPU,” and thus, are designated as mining-only cards.
Nvidia’s continued pushback against cryptocurrency remains puzzling on multiple levels. The company didn’t explicitly mention what is different about these new LHR cards versus their standard counterparts. Is there a hardware change that truly makes the anti-mining feature irreversible, or is this just round two of a driver implementation?
Furthermore, it’s puzzling from a pure numbers standpoint to see a company do anything that would discourage people from buying your product. At the end of the day, a sale is a sale.
What’s more, it seems as though Nvidia’s moves are going to make non-limited (original) cards more valuable due to their versatility to game and / or mine. Some people want to do both. CMP cards, meanwhile, are only good for mining so once the hash rate climbs past the point that makes them no longer efficient, they’re essentially useless.