The lack of GPU supply has reached profound levels of absurdity since last fall. Enough to turn many gamers off from even caring about Ampere news anymore. As exciting as the next generation cards are in terms of performance, it means little when they are consistently out of stock or marked up to higher prices than they are worth. Nvidia has certainly benefitted from additional GPU sales thanks to the rising prices of cryptocurrencies as well. In fact, the business is so good as of now that Nvidia has finally created a CMP lineup of cards specifically for crypto mining.
Alongside the announcement of these dedicated mining cards, Nvidia confirmed it was taking measures to cripple the hashrate performance for Ethereum (specifically) on its 3060 GPUs. The hope was that by nerfing this specific capability, it would make mining far less attractive on GeForce cards. Nvidia also suggested the limiter would be unhackable, due to it being implemented on several levels.
While these developments were received as positive news within the gaming industry, major concerns still remained. Nvidia suggested its mining cards would not affect the supply of GeForce cards, but that statement also suggested the mining cards would be manufactured on an entirely different process. Likely a less efficient process. Seeing as how time is of the essence to mining, one can see how less efficient and less powerful products would be unattractive to miners. This led us to believe Nvidia wouldn’t back off the 8nm Samsung node for mining, thus splitting supply and keeping availability tight.
An unexpected solution
However, it appears Nvidia is done with selling Ampere to miners now. Instead, the manufacturer is going to use its older Turing architecture and likely the 12nm TSMC process to make CMP mining cards. VideoCardz did some digging around in the latest Nvidia NHQL driver and discovered references to CMP processors that were far more similar to Turing than Ampere. It’s certainly a surprising move, but a welcome one for gamers.
As for miners, they will likely be a bit disappointed by this development. While Nvidia’s mining cards are going to be optimized in a number of other ways to farm crypto, they are going to draw more power for what they yield. Perhaps another tradeoff for miners will be the option to buy more of these cards, since there is less demand for 12nm based GPUs.
All in all, this supports the official statement of Nvidia that mining cards will not affect GeForce supply anymore, though the GDDR6 memory supply issues could still be a separate problem. Seeing as gamers have been subjected to a lot of frustration over the past several months, perhaps it is now the miners’ turn.
Getting rid of extra silicon
The decision to go with Turing is also likely Nvidia’s way of getting rid of extra 12nm silicon, which is another sound business decision. The first wave of these products will be ready to go by March. These look to be the Turing-based models. More powerful cards will then ship out in Q2. The top end mining card, the 90HX, is notably more powerful. As Tom’s Hardware pointed out, the 90HX may actually stem from Ampere. However, these may incorporate rejected silicon that didn’t meet the standards of GeForce GPUs, but weren’t entirely defective either. If that’s the case, it also lines up with some other careful phrasing by Nvidia.
This is a huge development though for Nvidia, as its reputation among gamers is quickly diminishing. If this solution is able to fix the RTX 30 Series supply issues, we’re all for it.