Nvidia announced today that it has taken necessary actions to gimp the GeForce RTX 3060's mining performance in an effort to stop cryptocurrency miners from getting their hands on the graphics card. YouTuber CryptoLeo has put the GeForce RTX 3060 through its paces and found Nvidia's measures to be extremely effective.
Custom GeForce RTX 3060 graphics cards won't go up for purchase until February 25, however, the YouTuber managed to get his hands on Zotac's GeForce RTX 3060 Twin Edge ahead of launch. The GeForce RTX 3060 is slated to start at $329, but sounds more like an overdose of optimism in present times, with a graphics card shortages and scalpers trying to make a profit. CryptoLeo paid around $830 for his GeForce RTX 3060 with shipping included.
Initially, the GeForce RTX 3060 was pushing a hash rate around 41.526 MH/s on PhoenixMiner 5.5c at the beginning of the mining operation. However, the Ampere graphics card's performance gradually descended until it hit rock bottom at 23.807 MH/s. If we look at the math, that's a massive 42.7% drop in mining performance and falls right in line with Nvidia's claims to slash the GeForce RTX 3060's mining performance by up to 50%.
According to Nvidia's press release, the anti-mining algorithm is built into the driver on a software level. However, the YouTuber claimed that he didn't have access to the latest Nvidia press driver, so he tricked the software into thinking that he's installing a GeForce RTX 3070 with an older driver. This seems to contradict Nvidia's implementation, that is, unless the chipmaker had already slipped in the mechanism into previous drivers without us knowing. It's also plausible that the YouTuber did have the right driver.
Assuming that the protection doesn't reside in the driver, then it's probably hidden inside the graphics card's vBIOS instead. A wild guess is that anti-mining mechanism is triggered with some type of cryptomining workload, resulting the graphics card automatically decreasing its performance.
Whether it's driver-based or vBIOS-based, Nvidia's protection might not be airtight. In the case of the first, cryptocurrency miners could theoretically just use an older driver that doesn't have the anti-mining algorithm. Even if it's baked into the vBIOS, there's a possibility that someone will find a way around it and just flashed the modified vBIOS onto the GeForce RTX 3060.
With its latest anti-mining efforts, Nvidia has found a way to halt cryptocurrency miners from picking up the GeForce RTX 3060 for the meantime. Unfortunately, it will affect legitimate owners that want to do some casual cryptocurrency mining as well.