Nvidia's latest GeForce graphics driver release dealt a blow to casual cryptominers with RTX 30 series GPUs Tuesday. The new Nvidia GeForce Game Ready 512.95 driver enabled DLSS and Ray tracing in Hitman 3 (opens in new tab) and did a hit on Ethereum mining hash rates. VideoCardz spotted a video with proof of what will be disappointing news for some (Portuguese video, embedded at bottom of article), showing graphics cards reduced, again, to approximately half of their potential Ethereum (ETH) mining performance.
Tom's Hardware has been watching the latest developments by NiceHash with interest in recent weeks. NiceHash is the the maker of the QuickMiner software and the Excavator miner. Near the start of the month NiceHash managed to break through Nvidia's LHR algorithm to restore most Ampere GeForce graphics cards to 100% of their potential ETH mining performance. Nvidia LHR was implemented to cut ETH mining performance in half and discourage cryptominers from buying up all of the cards aimed at gamers and enthusiasts.
A week ago, NiceHash announced a further breakthrough. The so called LHRv3 graphics cards, the GeForce RTX 3050 8GB and RTX 3080 12GB for desktops, had their hash rates unlocked (to 90% capability) in a QuickMiner update. These cards are the newest additions to the GeForce 30 series of graphics cards, introduced earlier this year, and have a newer LHR algorithm baked-in.
GeForce driver 512.95 has now arrived with attractive features for gamers, but also with reduced ETH mining performance. Ardent cryptominers will probably just stick with the previous driver, which worked with all of NiceHash's Ampere unlocks.
The newest GeForce Game Ready driver isn't all about Hitman 3; My Time at Sandrock and Sniper Elite 4 also get optimizations in the update, and Nvidia's regular driver updates also usually contain a host of bug fixes. Over successive releases these features and optimizations will rack up, which means pausing driver updates to benefit your ETH mining rate will become more and more difficult. In short, casual miners are likely to be most affected by Nvidia reasserting its LHR program.
Recently we reported on what might at last be some light at the end of the tunnel regarding ETH mining on PC GPUs. A few days ago Ethereum developers confirmed that "the merge" is ready to go. When this occurs ETH mining will become a thing of the past, as the cryptocurrency's blockchain moves to the less hardware and energy-demanding Proof of Stake (PoS) design. "The merge" is expected to complete in August this year (but has been pushed back numerous times, so temper your expectations).