Nvidia's RTX 3060 GPU will self-throttle if used for crypto mining

Physical manifestation of Ether cryptocurrency buried in gravel
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Nvidia plans to deter cryptocurrency miners from buying large quantities of its upcoming GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card by programming its driver software to automatically halve its efficiency when used to mine for Ether digital tokens.

The RTX 3060’s drivers have been designed to detect specific attributes of the Ethereum cryptocurrency mining algorithm, and limit mining efficiency by roughly 50%, Nvidia has revealed. Its software won’t limit the efficiency of all cryptocurrency mining activities, however, with the limiter only activating when processes use Dagger Hashimoto or Ethash-like algorithms.

This is largely because Ether is considered to have the highest global yield for any GPU-minable coin on the market currently, an Nvidia spokesperson confirmed with IT Pro, and is likely the biggest reason why many cryptocurrency miners are buying up large numbers of GPUs.

However, the company has not ruled out support for mining entirely, with the company also confirming a March launch date for its forthcoming CMP HX series cards. These are dedicated chips built on architecture specifically designed for efficient cryptocurrency mining, and as such will ship without output or graphical rendering capabilities.

Nvidia is hoping these twin measures will be enough to deter cryptocurrency miners from buying out its RTX 3060 GPU when it launches on 25 February. Nvidia declined to confirm whether its mining-limiter was specific to the RTX 3060 chip, or whether this will be rolled out in all forthcoming GPUs.

Like many chipmakers, Nvidia has been struggling to meet the rising demand for its GPUs amid a global components shortage. A combination of COVID-19 supply chain problems, rising demand for devices due to remote working, and the effects of President Donald Trump’s trade war with China have all contributed to a general shortage in hardware supply.

For Nvidia, its GPUs have been highly sought-after by cryptocurrency miners exploiting the recent Bitcoin boom to mine Ether in increasing volumes. As such, the company’s traditional customers and device manufacturing partners have been unable to acquire the latest GPUs to fit into their own systems.

For example, the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti sold out almost immediately after it was launched in December, with a high proportion of customers hoping to embed these chips into Ether-mining systems.

The worsening situation has even forced Nvidia to lean on ‘legacy' GPUs to meet this demand. The GTX 1050 Ti chip, which was technically phased out two years ago, and the GeForce RTX 2060, one of the predecessors to GPUs in the current RTX 30-series, are now back on the market.

Pricing for the Nvidia CMP HX series hasn’t been disclosed, but prospective customers will be able to purchase these chips through the company’s partner network, including from vendors such as ASUS, Colorful, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI, Palit, and PC Partner.

The 30HX and 40HX chips will be launched next month, while Nvidia has scheduled a second-quarter release window for the higher-powered 50HX and 90HX variants. Specifications for all versions can be found below.

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Row 0 - Cell 0 30HX40HX50HX90HX
Ethereum Hash Rate26 MHps36 MHps45 MHps86 MHps
Rated Power125W185W250W320W
Power Connectors1 x 8-pin1 x 8-pin2 x 8-pin2 x 8-pin
Memory Size6GB8GB10B10GB
Keumars Afifi-Sabet

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.