NVIDIA this morning has released a new driver set for their GeForce cards, version 466.27. And though it’s primarily for next week’s release of Metro Exodus PC Enhanced Edition and a couple of other games, this latest driver drop from NVIDIA also includes an update to their anti-Ethereum throttle, which they first implemented in their GeForce RTX 3060 cards. In short, NVIDIA has tweaked future RTX 3060 cards to require this driver (or newer), which will prevent them from using older drivers that can bypass NVIDIA’s hash limiter. As a result, RTX 3060 cards shipping starting in mid-May will once again be fully locked down against running Ethereum at full (native) speed.

As a quick refresher, back in February with the launch of the GeForce RTX 3060 family of desktop video cards, NVIDIA implemented a novel throttling mechanism to artificially limit the Ethereum mining performance of the cards. This was done in an attempt to make the cards less palatable for miners – who have infamously been buying up cards in what is already a supply-constrained market – and thereby ensure more cards made it to gamers. Unfortunately for NVIDIA, this strategy worked for less than a month before the company accidentally released a driver without the full anti-Ethereum code in place, making it possible to mine Ethereum at full speed in some cases.

Now, having learned from their previous snafu, NVIDIA is taking another shot at locking down the Ethereum mining performance in future RTX 3060 cards by updating their hash limiter and preventing those new cards from using the older, broken development driver.

It also updates the hash limiter for the GeForce RTX 3060 and is required for products shipped starting mid-May 2021.

Unpacking this short (and somewhat ambiguous) statement a bit, starting with the next batch of RTX 3060 cards, which are expected to begin shipping in mid-May, 466.27 will be the minimum driver version required for these cards. Which, despite NVIDIA’s multi-branch naming system, is a newer driver than the compromised 470.05 released back in March. This driver has the updated hash limiter code, and thus, baring future unforced errors on NVIDIA’s part, it will not be possible to mine Ethereum at full speed on future RTX 3060 cards.

NVIDIA has otherwise been fairly tight-lipped on their anti-Ethereum code, but thanks to their March flub and efforts by miners to get around the code, we can take an educated guess at what NVIDIA is doing under the hood with these future RTX 3060 cards. Most likely, NVIDIA has blown an eFuse or two in order to require that newly-minted GA106 GPUs can’t be used with older BIOSes. By changing the minimum BIOS requirement, NVIDIA can have the newer BIOS enforce the newer driver requirement, with the driver in turn enforcing (or at least helping to enforce) the Ethereum throttle. All told, this is very similar to how hardware security works on consoles, where NVIDIA has some experience thanks to the Tegra X1-powered Nintendo Switch.

As for whether this attempt will fare any better than NVIDIA’s previous one, it remains to be seen. But even as things stand with current-generation RTX 3060 cards, NVIDIA’s anti-Ethereum throttle has largely held up; the March snafu has exposed that NVIDIA is already operating a “defense in depth” strategy with multiple checks to identify mining cards, looking for things such as cards operating on a PCIe x1 bus and cards not hooked up to monitors. So if there are any weaknesses, especially on the Linux side of things, then this will be NVIDIA’s opportunity to shore things up for their anti-Ethereum throttle.

Finally, NVIDIA has also informed us that these revised RTX 3060 cards will not be labeled any differently than existing RTX 3060 cards. Since the actual product specifications and functionality haven’t changed – and presumably the GPU hasn’t either – the revised cards will be sold with the same RTX 3060 branding as they have since their launch in February. So once these cards hit the market, it will end up being a relatively silent swap.

Source: NVIDIA

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  • CiccioB - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    Yes, it is possible that halving Ethereum algorithm computation is still not enough to make their cards horrible to miners' eyes, but still it is lowering the card value for them, which is better than nothing, as it requires a less than a complete crash of the crypto bubble to make these cards useless and be returned to the gaming market.
  • Silver5urfer - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    Pallet pricing =! MSRP do you think miners are buying these at the MSRP ? haha lol. And I don't even mine on my slow gpu, Nvidia is simply deciding what consumer has to do with their HW, you can ofc enjoy that direction.

    And once the GPU launches you will see whether the Stock is there or not and then come back reply to your own comment.
  • CiccioB - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    Sounds like a rant of an Nvidia hater.
    He already calls it Ngreedia for not known reasons, but probably complete ignorance.

    And it is the usual trick haters like to exploit when they want to hate with clueless arguments:
    1. if the company does nothing, it is a "ngreeder" that just wants money and does not care about its historic customers and core business
    2. if they act to try to somewhat mitigate the problem, they are unlawful because they don't allow you do what you want with the HW you have just bought
    Whatever they do they can be attacked, so they just move on the side they can do that.

    And the clueless hating goes on by praising AMD and its worst performances: so AMD is good because its cards are so shitty in mining and do not require to be castrated being already so shitty and so AMD does not artificially limit you to do what you want with your HW.
    Impeccable reasoning of a perfect clueless hater that just wants to find a good side for its loved company. Even when there's not one resulting quite ridiculous.
    Clueless hater's involute thoughts, just to throw some more hate against a company that he doesn't like because it makes its preferred one a "do not care" on any modern aspect. Even the new crypto craziness.
  • Silver5urfer - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    Epic. I have an Nvidia card with me right now, I never even used any AMD card till date. While Ngreedia is yanking the performance off and going off rails trying to appease dumb people. I think I stepped on as snowflake of a corporate fanboy today who is blindly believing in this move thinking GPU market is going to be normal.

    If you have a modicum of commonsense you would realize that if they really want to appease to gaming crowd, they would nerf the whole hashrate to 0. But they do not. Nowadays lack of commonsense is more keep on shilling for Ngreedia more.
  • inighthawki - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    Mining is just an enormous waste of electricity and resources to produce quite literally nothing, which is valued so highly only because of it's ability to anonymously be used for illegal and untraceable activities. To be quite honest, I hope nvidia gimps every single SKU with the same thing. Miners can seriously go f*** themselves. I've never seen a bigger waste of hardware resources in my life.
  • Silver5urfer - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    It's producing money, how can it be nothing when it's producing money ? Untraceable ? then why did US seize all the operations of Silk Road and others and now sitting on top of more than billions of dollars worth BTC. Crypto was born to be anon but it's not they can trace back to your wallet and your fiat currency, only one or two do it but in the end you will be caught. Period.

    I do not even like this bullshit situation of GPUs and PC market due to Mining and TSMC shortage and artificial price hikes, but I even hate more that Ngreedia is dictating what consumer does. If one wants to power limit say a 3080 GPU and mine, they cannot do it because they castrated it.

    Lol you are too naive man to see and dream how Miners are going to get shafted by this crappy move, they are having tons of GPUs already and made a killing out of them. Nvidia if really cares about YOU they should have made the hash rate to absolute ZERO on all GPUs and existing ones as well. They do not because they know where money is made and can be made.
  • inighthawki - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    It's not producing money. It's producing virtual coins that are valued at what they are due to their illegitimate uses.

    The wallets exist, that's different than anonymous transactions. There is a reason that ransomware uses bitcoin - because the transactions are anonymous and dont need to be tied to anyone. It's completely unregulated and the only real value in cryptocurrency is for unlawful activity.

    I dont really care what nvidia's intentions are. I'm able to vote with my wallet if I don't like what they're doing. I just hate miners, and I'm 110% in favor of what nvidia is doing. Miners are giant piles of shit and and deserve to get shafted in any way possible. Cryptocurrency mining has only negative effects. It's a monumental waste of electricity which produces vast amounts of pollution from the energy consumption, and makes hardware scarce and drives up the price for people who can actually make good use of it. All in the name of getting a few more digital coins. Oh boy!
  • CiccioB - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    The real problems are not the miners, are the ones that buy these virtual moneys at constantly higher prices because they just want to speculate on them.
    I agree that illegitimate use of the crypto coins exists and its a reason for this otherwise useless "service" to exists.
    But nothing would work and exists if for each illegitimate user there would not be thousands of lemmings buying the coins just because "tomorrow they will have higher values and make them rich".
    This a game already used in the past where people think that they can gain money doing absolutely nothing, and that game works as long as there are new users wanting to put fresh money in the game, raising the value. But a certain point, which can be even much higher than today, but it will undoubtedly come, there won't be so many new contributors and the game will start collapsing on itself. As more will withdraw, more value will be removed and more will escape creating an avalanche process.. the crash of the bubble. Few will claim to have become rich, some will make some money, some will loose little or nothing but many more will loose almost everything they out in the game.

    And I agree this would be completely influential, as all other many times it happened, if the game would have not been based on wasting resources and energy.
    I really hope some country will start putting an end to this craziness, just for saving a bit of this already ill planet. For the money players of this game are making or loosing, I'm neutral, as it is a zero sum game.. whatever one gains is the lost of some other one(s). And not being a player I am not on any side of this.
  • Silver5urfer - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    Sorry but the Marketcap for BTC and ETH and even that crap unlimited supply DOGE is sky high, reaching to peaks. All that Mining HW and the control of the flow of money from Robinhood to Paypal to invest in Crypto on behalf of their profits you think this is going to be shafted ? China controls a lot of this industry, and more farms in US.

    It's already heavily regulated. To trade and transact Crypto you need to provide all your details to the companies, more than what you give to Stock investments, you are hating it blindly. I also hate it how it killed the GPU market but your reasoning is dull and naive.

    If Nvidia wants to share your thoughts and thinking that miners are pile of shit then I repeat, They would kill the whole hashrate to Zero. But they won't do it and they will never do it it will cause a huge loss for them in the short and long runs. Period.

    They do not care about you or me, Ngreedia only cares about their profits. Why do you think they had a boatload of cash during Q42020 while the GPUs absolutely not being in stock all the fcking time ? Miners market simple. You pay more to Scalpers but that doesn't go to Ngreedia it goes to the Scalper but miners and the corporate relations to the OEMs ? It directly goes to Nvidia which is why the greedy scum never put gamers first, if they want I again repeat, they would nerf the GPUs to oblivion by silently pushing a HW revision in the middle of the supply chain AND flashing them with a vBIOS PLUS a Driver that completely destroys Hashing.
  • Oxford Guy - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    'I also hate it how it killed the GPU market'

    It did NOT kill the GPU market.

    Inadequate competition and a few corporations (AMD, Nvidia, Sony, and Microsoft) killed the GPU market (also with Intel's assistance).

    Blaming mining for the situation is cute but mining wouldn't have any sort of strangehold on the GPU supply if the companies that make them didn't want them to be used for mining.

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