In an effort to partially mitigate the market chaos that has come from the cryptocurrency mining boom over the last 6 months, last month NVIDIA very publicly introduced a mining throttling mechanism for its then-new GeForce RTX 3060 cards. By throttling the performance of Ethereum mining on these cards to half their native rate, it would ideally keep miners from immediately snapping up any (and every) RTX 3060 card in search for a profit, leaving more available for NVIDIA’s gaming customers. Essentially a software security/DRM system, the success of NVIDIA’s effort would hinge largely on ensuring the underlying throttling mechanism remain undefeated – an effort that has significantly fumbled after NVIDIA accidentally released a driver without the complete throttling code.

As part of the development of their upcoming Release 470 driver branch, last week NVIDIA released driver 470.05 to developers and Windows Insiders. Among other things, this development driver enabled CUDA support on the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL2) for the first time. Unfortunately, this driver didn’t include the complete throttling code for Ethereum, and as a result it’s possible to use the driver to mine the cryptocoin on RTX 3060 cards at their full (native) rate.

The news was initially broken by HardwareLuxx and ComputerBase, who had the driver and were able to confirm that they were no longer getting throttled with the new driver. NVIDIA in turn has since confirmed the matter as well, sending a statement out to various members of the press that “A developer driver inadvertently included code used for internal development which removes the hash rate limiter on RTX 3060 in some configurations. The driver has been removed.”

Unfortunately, this is a prime, real-world example of how software security (and DRM-like systems) are only as strong as their weakest link – in this case NVIDIA’s driver team. NVIDIA security mechanisms rely on signature checks for the BIOS and drivers to prevent bypassing the throttling mechanism, but since this is a signed, legitimate NVIDIA driver to begin with, it is readily accepted by the card. And since the driver doesn’t have a timebomb on it, the genie is out of the bottle, as it were. Windows cryptominers should be able to use the driver with RTX 3060 cards indefinitely, and since the driver was widely released there’s no possibility to preventing its re-distribution.

The silver(ish) lining to this otherwise bad news is that it could have been even worse for NVIDIA. This driver was for Windows and not for Linux, with the latter being the preferred platform for industrial miners. Furthermore there are apparently other mining-checks in the driver that do still work (e.g. checking the PCIe link width), so NVIDIA’s anti-Ethereum throttle for the RTX 3060 is not completely broken. It has, however, had a massive chunk taken out of it with this driver release.

All of which means that the ongoing chip crunch has just become all that more severe for gamers and other video card buyers. With an unthrottled RTX 3060 able to pull in around $5/day in profit, the card risks being a reasonably attractive offering for miners looking to make a quick buck.

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  • Oxford Guy - Wednesday, March 17, 2021 - link

    You're not thinking deeply enough.

    Demand increase = price increase.

    Functionality increase = demand increase = price increase.

    Cutting mining functionality is supposed to decrease demand and thus improve pricing.

    Of course, the only reasons Nvidia has for wanting to do that are:

    1. Stopping people from starting a 3rd GPU company, to provide good-quality competition rather than the trash-tier competition we've been treated to for so many years.

    2. Reducing the number of people going for the 'console' scam, since those ship with AMD parts.

    3. Generate consumer goodwill (brand mindshare). Well, given its monopolist power, it has very little incentive to worry much about this. A fake goodwill gesture (gimping mining, allegedly, then releasing a driver that bypassing the gimp) is apparently all it thinks is needed.
  • Silver5urfer - Wednesday, March 17, 2021 - link

    Yep people are really damn fools to root for 1/2 hashrate is going to do something to their procurement of GPUs. I wish ETH moves away from this whole PC HW BS, that will end in tears for miners but it's the logical path, but the even more logical is to block the pallet backyard sales of all stock.

    Why nobody talks about that ? Limit the fcking GPU to 2/4 per house if they can. Not sell backyard sale, can Ngreedia stop it ? Nope. Do AIBs want to do the same ? Nope. Then why are we clamoring for some bs castration, well it's the nugamer crowd who lack thinking.
  • Oxford Guy - Saturday, March 27, 2021 - link

    You can call any corporation 'greedia'. They are the antithesis of altruistic inventions.

    Their goal is to increase margins as much as they can. That means delivering the least product value to customers as possible. To obtain that goal, they work toward monopolization.
  • FakThisShttyGame - Tuesday, March 16, 2021 - link

    I think someone in nvidia purposely did this lol
  • jabber - Monday, March 22, 2021 - link

    Yeah this was done on purpose. Like they don't have sign off procedures etc. on this stuff.
  • Oxford Guy - Wednesday, March 17, 2021 - link

    'NVIDIA accidentally released'

    I can accidentally sell you some nice Florida swampland, complete with accidental crocodiles.
  • Silver5urfer - Wednesday, March 17, 2021 - link

    Gimping and castrating GPUs is bad. No matter how you see it, I don't even mine because that will wear out the PCB and Silicon. But to those who do on their gaming rigs it's their wish. This was a bullshit move from Ngreedia, because they do not stop Scalping or limiting the Retail market. Period

    If you want to prove it otherwise you are welcome, the mining cap didn't do SHIT to the mining craze, the only way is to stop the backyard sales in pallets to the miners. If you can take that hit of loss sure, but nobody will do it, that's how market / money / capitalism whatever you want to name works.

    AMD didn't castrate their GPUs, why Nvidia is doing ? To lure idiotic fanboys or what...they should stop this bullshit lip service drama to the world. Some idiotic investor pressurzied them apparently to gimp the GPUs, today it's Daggerhashimoto tmrw it will be DLSS or whatver CUDA AI load you want to work based off the data it will block what then ?

    I hope this whole facade of saving face from Ngreedia stops, I had respect for them during Maxwell but with Pascal they started putting vBIOS security and with Turing insane bs pricing and that security went to next level, now with Ampere all things plus you get bonus castrated performance. Utter bullocks.

    Think why do you accept this gimping in the first place when the fucking pallet sales are NOT being blocked and not even covered anywhere damn it.
  • Oxford Guy - Saturday, March 27, 2021 - link

    'Gimping and castrating GPUs is bad. No matter how you see it'

    No, it's not.

    It's irrational to think that staring at a wall instead of gaming, because you can't purchase the card is a better outcome than being able to purchase a card at a reasonable price because it has been 'gimped' and 'castrated' for mining.
  • phenombuilts1 - Wednesday, March 24, 2021 - link

    Really a great information related to gpus.I also love to read about gpus .

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