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Cryptocurrency mining on GeForce GTX RTX 3060

Author: LB 2021-03-13 1331

The dust stirred by ethereum miners is still settling and consumers are still confronted with empty shelves when loitering around the GPU departments in hardware stores both in Europe and in the US. The market price of ethereum topped around $2000 in February and the upward trend has attracted even more miners to join the network. Ethereum, unlike bitcoin, is being mined solely on video cards and this caused an unprecedented commotion on the GPU market. One of the largest GPU chip manufacturers, Nvidia could not but take new steps in order to restore the order on the market. The new GeForce RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3060 cards are shipped with on-chip imprecations and ethereum miners don’t have to rush to the stores and panic buy the supply. Let’s see some of the implications of the steps Nvidia has taken!

A few months ago, just before ethereum’s market price set off its journey towards $2000 video cards were available in most online stores, and in spite of the pandemic procuring mid-range GPUs was easy even for gamers. But then, as more and more articles and tutorials appeared on the Internet saying that mining bitcoin is extremely difficult these days, newcomers would rather look for alternative options, ethereum, being the second largest cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalization started gaining attention. This has definitely pushed the price of GPUs up to the sky and large semiconductor manufactures didn’t seem to be able to keep up with the increased demand.

Even these days, if you have a mid-range GPU, you can produce $80-$150 on a monthly basis if you are mining ethereum. Doubtless, this number is very enticing and the number of cryptocurrency miners keeps increasing. On the other hand, video cards have been invented to please gamer needs and when a large majority of these cards are currently sitting in mining rigs to run the ethash algorithm gamers, unable to update their hardware are giving voice to their indignation with increasing frequency. We see their posts on Twitter, Facebook and there is a growing number of YouTubers discussing this problem too.

Well, everybody is talking about the devilment committed by ethereum miners against the miners, but nobody seems to mention the hardship experienced by research teams for example. Science does require a lot of computational power and the latest numerical methods are carving for GPUs. While deep learning modules, machine learning algorithms and methods of computational chemistry can all run on CPUs, there are certain highly optimized libraries that rely on CUDA for example. Novel image processing projects, such as YoLo for example or face recognition softwares are unable to operate if there is no video card in the machine running the algorithms.

This spring, Nvidia was among the first GPU chip manufacturers who decided to take action and the video card giant has already been profusely criticized for its move. The latest Nvidia cards are shipped with an artificial impediment, which automatically decreases the board’s performance once it detects ethereum mining activities. Nvidia has already launched two video cards, the GeForce GTX RTX 3060 and the GeForce GTX RTX 3060 Ti with the new limitations to appease its loyal consumers who have been buying their products for many years. Whether there is a huge difference between buyers who are buying Nvidia cards for mining purposes and those who are planning to play their favourite games on the cards is still a huge question.

In some European countries, the GeForce GTX RTX 3060 and the GeForce GTX RTX 3060 Ti cards are already available and they are sold for a very reasonable price(335 Euro in France for example).

Well, it’s always interesting to observe how the situation evolves with the video cards, especially if you’re a cryptocurrency miner. As for now, Nvidia with its new chips managed to thwart cryptocurrency mining on the new GeForce GTX RTX 3060, but nobody can tell how long these new chips can withstand the crafty miners’ continuous attack. A few days ago Chinese and Vietnamese users posted a few images on social media platforms to show that they had already successfully hacked the new Nvidia chips and they can already mine ethereum with 40-50MH/s. Later, these materials were found to be fake.

As for now, let’s believe that the engineers at Nvidia knew what they were doing and they managed to properly tweak the chips to effectively detect ethereum mining activities. Nevertheless, whether one can mine other cryptocurrencies on these new cards is still an open question. A Japanese miner tried to install a nicehash miner on the new GeForce GTX RTX 3060 to mine bitcoin, but he failed to squeeze out the reported original hash rate from the card in his video. The result of his experiment is very dubious, because according to the official statement from Nvidia, they’re not blocking bitcoin mining, the current limitation is only activated when the Dagger-Hashimoto algorithm is detected.

And it is also true that creating an impediment for a single cryptographic algorithm might appear as a good solution to ward off certain cryptocurrency miners, it might not solve the situation forever. Most likely, these cards are perfect for research teams and for corporations with AI and deep learning departments so it’d be an exaggeration to say that Nvidia will please its gamers and no other consumer groups with this step.

And finally if we think about the rapidly evolving world of cryptocurrency, forking the bitcoin source code to invent a brand new cryptocurrency with a new mining algorithm that can be conveniently run on the GeForce GTX RTX 3060 or the GeForce GTX RTX 3060 Ti is not a difficult thing to do. The implications of such an invention are unforeseeable, but if this happens Nvidia will have no choice but refactor its blocking mechanism that has already been meticulously designed and implemented in the RTX 3060. Otherwise the price of the new cryptocurrency set off on a new upward journey and we would end up in the same situation as we were at the end of 2020. Isn’t this a vicious circle?

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