Nvidia’s first attempt to block cryptocurrency mining didn’t go well. While the company initially promised a cryptocurrency mining blocker would debut with the RTX 3060, it accidentally released a driver that allowed mining on the card a few days later. HDMI dongles also reportedly proved capable of bypassing the limiter. The plan didn’t work and RTX 3060 GPUs remain hot commodities in the cryptocurrency market.
There are reports that Nvidia might be preparing to try again, and that it might re-issue new spins of higher-end Ampere GPUs as well. That’s the word from HKEPC via Tom’s Hardware, which reports a new GA-106-302 die spin will replace the current GA-106-300 die powering the GeForce RTX 3060.
This new chip is supposedly almost entirely identical to the old one, with two exceptions. First, it has a new PCI Device ID that the GeForce 470.05 beta driver won’t recognize and therefore won’t support. Second, HKEPC reports that the new version of the RTX 3060 contains unspecified “additional mechanisms” implemented in silicon intended to keep the RTX 3060 in the hands of gamers, not miners. We’re curious what the “additional mechanisms” might be. Nvidia has spent most of the last 15 years making it easier to run applications on a GPU as opposed to a CPU, and it may prove difficult to block cryptocurrency mining long-term. The original RTX 3060 anti-mining implementation only blocked Ethereum, but we’ll see what this new GPU brings to the table, assuming it exists.
I’ve said before, maybe not GA106 only.
For example, we would meet GA102-302/202 and GA104-302/202. https://t.co/pGghHbikbV
— kopite7kimi (@kopite7kimi) April 15, 2021
Kopite7kimi has a reputation as a leaker and they’re predicting we’ll see refreshes for more than just the RTX 3060. Nvidia is in a bit of a tricky spot with this situation, however. If the company makes anti-crypto mining features a major point in a GPU refresh cycle, it’ll explicitly invite attacks against whatever gatekeeping mechanisms Nvidia deploys.
So far, AMD has announced no plan to limit mining on its own GPUs. It’s not clear how much this practically matters right now. The top-selling GPU lists at Amazon and Newegg don’t have many RDNA2 GPUs listed, though Amazon did have a 6700 XT sitting in the #1 spot as of this writing. The AMD GPUs that do show up in-market are all lower-end and slower cards. The Radeon 5700 and 5700 XT don’t crack the Top 100 GPUs at either site.
Right now, it looks like there’s a bare handful of 6700 XT cards trickling out into the market and not much else. AMD may be prioritizing OEM shipments over channel distribution — Alienware does offer a Ryzen Edition system with a 6800 XT — but that system doesn’t ship until June 1. Nvidia-equipped systems are currently expected to ship about two weeks earlier, in late May. The delays appear to be GPU-related; switching from an AMD to an Intel CPU didn’t impact delivery dates. AMD’s decision to allow mining on its GPUs may be tempered by the fact that AMD doesn’t seem to be shipping a lot of GPUs right now, period.