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Nvidia Reportedly Revamps Ampere Silicon to Stop Ethereum Mining For Good

Ampere Silicon
Ampere Silicon (Image credit: Nvidia)

According to HKEPC's report, Nvidia is ready to redeem itself after the whole anti-mining limiter fiasco with the GeForce RTX 3060. The chipmaker is reportedly preparing a new variant of the GA106 silicon to restore the Ethereum anti-mining limiter back to its not-so-glory days.

Citing an unidentified Taiwanese graphics card manufacturer as the source, HKEPC claims that Nvidia has discontinued the GA106-300 die, which powers the GeForce RTX 3060. Therefore, upcoming GeForce RTX 3060 graphics cards will be based on the new GA106-302 die.  As simple as the solution may seem, the die swap is sufficient to invalidate the Nvidia-leaked GeForce 470.05 Beta driver since it doesn't have the data to pick up the new PCI Device ID. According to HKEPC's sources, Nvidia has implemented additional mechanisms into the GA106-302 silicon so cracking the anti-mining limiter won't be as easy as before.

Barring any setbacks, Nvidia is rumored to deliver the GA106-302 silicon in May, meaning subsequent GeForce RTX 3060 graphics cards will have the new die. By injecting the new variation into the current market, Nvidia will have effectively added some uncertainty to the mix so cryptocurrency miners have to think twice before picking up a GeForce RTX 3060. On another note, Nvidia's move will likely add some extra value to the old GeForce RTX 3060 graphics cards, which are already selling for over $1000.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-Series Graphics Cards

Graphics CardCurrent SiliconNew Silicon
GeForce RTX 3090GA102-300GA102-302/202
GeForce RTX 3080GA102-300GA102-302/202
GeForce RTX 3070GA104-300GA104-302/202
GeForce RTX 3060GA106-300GA106-302

Although HKEPC only touches on the GeForce RTX 3060, it may only be the tip of the iceberg. Prominent hardware leaker kopite7kimi, who has an impeccable history regarding Ampere leaks, thinks that Nvidia may also revise the chipmaker's other Ampere silicon. The list includes the GA102 and GA104 silicons, which power the GeForce RTX 3090 and GeForce RTX 3080 and GeForce RTX 3070, respectively. Therefore, it appears that Nvidia is undertaking a crusade to stop cryptocurrency miners.

Many consumers don't have Nvidia on the highest regard, especially since the chipmaker accidentally leaked a driver that completely disabled its own anti-mining limiter. Some might question Nvidia's commitment on clamping down cryptocurrency miners. The chipmaker did rake in a remarkable Q4 revenue between $100 to $300 million from cryptomining sales alone.

Obviously, Nvidia knows how to make money. The chipmaker's endgame may consist in suppressing Ethereum mining on its GeForce gaming graphics cards to push cryptocurrency miners over to the company's Cryptocurrency Mining Processor (CMP) instead. While some of us still aren't convinced of CMP's value, big cryptocurrency mining corporations don't seem to have any qualms. Hut 8 Mining Corp. already ordered $30 million worth of CMP products. Nvidia already predicts an estimated revenue up to $150 million from CMP sales for the first quarter, tripling its previous forecast.

The former anti-mining limiter was short-lived, mainly because Nvidia gave cryptocyrrency miners the keys to the kingdom. We hope the chipmaker has put extra protections in place this time around and maybe, just maybe, more Ampere graphics cards will start landing in gamers' hands instead of Ethereum mining farms.

  • hotaru.hino
    Time to see how long this'll last.
    Reply
  • Phaaze88
    Uhh, this seems like a dumb idea. I mean, just Ethereum? Another digital currency could easily take it's place once it goes POS.

    Implementing barriers on the hardware level is a step in the right direction though.

    Hell if I know anything... just wait and see what happens.
    Reply
  • digitalgriffin
    I told you guys this was coming. I knew NVIDIA was going to nerf the beta driver with a hardware update.

    I've been 100% so far.

    Phaaze, it's only a simple tweek to adjust for other mining algs.
    Reply
  • hehehahaho
    amazing! how times change from no computer to dial up modem to now with these pirates and scammers called resellers.
    Reply
  • AtrociKitty
    I can't see this happening without backlash. Even gamers are justifying the high cost of current graphics cards with the ability to recoup some of their investment through mining. Limiting what people can do with hardware they paid for is never a winning solution, and might not earn Nvidia the goodwill they're hoping for.

    since it doesn't have the data to pick up the new PCI Device ID
    I imagine it won't be so simple to bypass, but I wonder how Nvidia is implementing that restriction. I've modified Intel drivers to work with unsupported IDs before, and it wasn't overly complicated (it did get me banned from their forums though). The hardware will have to appear different enough that it won't function with existing drivers at all.
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    digitalgriffin said:
    I told you guys this was coming. I knew NVIDIA was going to nerf the beta driver with a hardware update.

    I've been 100% so far.

    Phaaze, it's only a simple tweek to adjust for other mining algs.
    No, it's not "simple" because we don't even know what Nvidia is detecting -- probably looking for the Ethereum DAG in memory or something. But regardless, Nvidia has to order new wafers with the hardware fix in place. Best-case, that's 4-5 months from the time something gets 'cracked' or 'unlocked' or whatever. Meaning, it's no deterent for at least the next four months. And if there's a new algorithm that comes out -- or an existing algorithm gets adjusted to defeat the anti-mining lock -- Nvidia has to repeat the whole process.

    I'm also curious as to what happens if you hack the hardware ID or edit the driver files to list the new ID -- maybe that won't work, but certainly people have run "unreleased" hardware on hacked drivers in the past. If you don't want people to mine, this is at least a baby step in the right direction, but I suspect it's more of a deterent to gamers mining in their spare time than it is to big mining farms finding workarounds. Not to mention, RTX 3060 isn't even that great for Ethereum mining. 48MH/s is half the 3080, and you use twice as many PCIe slots. It's easy to reach the point where paying a bit more for a single card that does the same performance is the better solution.
    Reply
  • digitalgriffin
    JarredWaltonGPU said:
    No, it's not "simple" because we don't even know what Nvidia is detecting -- probably looking for the Ethereum DAG in memory or something. But regardless, Nvidia has to order new wafers with the hardware fix in place. Best-case, that's 4-5 months from the time something gets 'cracked' or 'unlocked' or whatever. Meaning, it's no deterent for at least the next four months. And if there's a new algorithm that comes out -- or an existing algorithm gets adjusted to defeat the anti-mining lock -- Nvidia has to repeat the whole process.

    I'm also curious as to what happens if you hack the hardware ID or edit the driver files to list the new ID -- maybe that won't work, but certainly people have run "unreleased" hardware on hacked drivers in the past. If you don't want people to mine, this is at least a baby step in the right direction, but I suspect it's more of a deterent to gamers mining in their spare time than it is to big mining farms finding workarounds. Not to mention, RTX 3060 isn't even that great for Ethereum mining. 48MH/s is half the 3080, and you use twice as many PCIe slots. It's easy to reach the point where paying a bit more for a single card that does the same performance is the better solution.

    Respectfully,

    The hardware tweeks are actually minimal. Hacking the driver is harder than you think, and if you hack the driver, the performance is already going to be nerfed, because the digital signature won't be valid.

    The 3060 is a testing ground. There's enough demand on the market right now NVIDIA could sell every 3000 series and 2000 HX Mining solution they put out there. It will uber inflait NVIDIA's market share while protecting/maximizing profits. And that will keep investors happy. As the article alluded, more cards will feature this tech soon if it pans out.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    AtrociKitty said:
    I can't see this happening without backlash. Even gamers are justifying the high cost of current graphics cards with the ability to recoup some of their investment through mining. Limiting what people can do with hardware they paid for is never a winning solution, and might not earn Nvidia the goodwill they're hoping for.
    The reason cards are selling for so much on auction sites is because people are figuring in the ability to recoup costs from mining into the initial purchase price. With significantly handicapped mining performance, people aren't going to be willing to pay as much, and prices should drop. At least, that's the idea. If the mining lock keeps getting broken every other month, it won't have any impact at all.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    JarredWaltonGPU said:
    Not to mention, RTX 3060 isn't even that great for Ethereum mining. 48MH/s is half the 3080, and you use twice as many PCIe slots. It's easy to reach the point where paying a bit more for a single card that does the same performance is the better solution.
    You can bet this isn't going to be limited to the 3060. With the news that dies that were originally destined for the mythical 3080Ti are being repurposed for 3090's, it really looks like Nvidia scrapped the plans for the original 3080Ti's and could be preparing a GA102 revision with this new lock.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    I doubt Nvidia has given half a damn about stopping Ethereum mining in-silicon. It more likely needed to re-spin the silicon for some other far more important reason and nudged how the hash rate limit flag was set just enough to break backward-compatibility with the beta driver while it was at it.
    Reply