If you’ve been in the market for a new GPU during the last few months, I’m so sorry. The card you were eyeing, ready to open your wallet for, was likely poached. Now it sits on a scalper’s shelf or in some crypto miner’s setup, slowly grinding away to earn more Bitcoin or Ethereum. Thankfully Nvidia recognized where its cards were going and decided to get in front of the problem. Nvidia announced a new line of crypto mining processors in an effort to get gaming-focused cards in the right hands. In the same move, the company has revealed that RTX 3060 cards will come with software that limits mining capabilities.
These new crypto mining processors, titled Nvidia CMP HX, “don’t do graphics” according to a post from the company. Instead, they’ve been built from the ground up just for mining cryptocurrency. They lack any display ports, improving airflow and allowing for more compact designs. CMPs also sport a low peak core voltage and frequency which, according to Nvidia, will improve mining power efficiency. That’s a win all around since it was recently reported by the BBC that mining uses more electricity than Argentina does over the course of a year.
Of course, this all ties in to the release of Nvidia’s RTX 3060. The low-mid tier graphics card, set to release on February 25, was and still is expected to fly off store shelves. However, the card may just end up in the rigs of more PC gamers this time around. Alongside the release of CMPs, Nvidia is purposefully halving the ability for RTX 3060 cards to mine crypto. According to a post on the company’s site, this tech isn’t built into the cards but rather comes with software drivers. This software detects when a card is being used to mine Ethereum. Once detected, the card will automatically halve its hash rate, making it 50 percent less effective. However, it’s not clear if this software will also detect techniques for mining other kinds of crypto, like Bitcoin.
Good moves for everyone, but especially Nvidia
It’s very rare for hardware news to come out and be good for, well, pretty much everyone. But this is one of those cases. By announcing a new line of crypto mining processors, Nvidia is making money while making customers happy. Nobody in this situation loses, but nobody wins as much as Nvidia is. It’s rare for a company to find a way to rake in more dough fixing a problem while making customers happy.
But Nvidia isn’t just profiting with, well, profits here. The company has been losing its reputation over the last few months. Since the release of its 3000 Series cards, scalpers have plagued online marketplaces, picking up every card available. They all end up back on the market eventually, just at a ridiculously high mark-up. Likewise, crypto-miners have been snatching powerful GPUs left and right in a bid to make more cash, though hopefully that issue will be resolved soon. However, there’s one issue that’s far out of Nvidia’s control, at least here in the U.S. Tariffs imposed on China by former President Trump have driven GPU prices up, something that customers obviously aren’t happy about. In terms of that issue, the ball is in the Biden administration’s court, although it’s not clear if those tariffs will go away any time soon.