Attempting to get ahead of cryptocurrency miners who might snatch up a good chunk of RTX 3060 stock when the GPU goes on sale next week, Nvidia announced this morning it now has a dedicated card for professional mining.
The Cryptocurrency Mining Processor, or CMP HX, will not have graphics capabilities. The display outputs have been removed, which Nvidia says increases airflow so the cards can be more densely packed. The CMP cards will also have lower peak core voltage and frequency, which makes mining more efficient.
There are four different CMP HX specifications: the 30HX, 40HX, 50HX, and 90HX, with Ethereum hash rates starting at 26MH/s and going up to 86MH/s. The 30HX and 40HX will be available sometime by the end of March, and the 50HX and 90HX by June, from authorized partners like Asus, Colorful, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI, Palit, and PC Partner.
At the same time, Nvidia reduced the hash rate of its forthcoming RTX 3060 graphics cards by 50%, which will hopefully make that card less attractive to miners. Cutting the hash rate in half effectively cuts the mining efficiency of those cards in half. The RTX 3060 drivers are designed to detect specific attributes in the Ethereum cryptocurrency mining algorithm, Nvidia says, so even if a crypto miner tried to use RTX 3060 cards to mine, it would be an exercise in frustration.
“With the launch of GeForce RTX 3060 on Feb. 25, we’re taking an important step to help ensure GeForce GPUs end up in the hands of gamers,” Nvidia said in a statement announcing the new card.
But it’s a small solution for a much larger problem: the chip shortage affecting all Nvidia RTX 30-series stock, making the cards next to impossible to find unless you want to pay double the price from a scalper. Nvidia is also ramping up production on some older GPUs, like the GTX 1050 Ti and RTX 2060, to help ease the shortage.
The GTX 1050 Ti specifically is incompatible with Ethereum cryptocurrency mining because it does not have enough VRAM, yet it’s still powerful enough to play many modern games at 1080p on a decent graphics setting. It remains the second most popular graphics card for PC gamers according to Steam’s most recent hardware survey, so that makes it a logical candidate for Nvidia to bring back from the silicon grave. (It never technically reached its end-of-life anyway.)
However, prices on both the GTX 1050 Ti and RTX 2060 are currently inflated hundred of dollars above their original retail price thanks to the chip shortage. Pumping new stock into the consumer market should drop those prices down, but again, scalpers have been wreaking havoc snatching up stock with bots only to sell them back to actual consumers at ridiculously inflated prices.
There’s also the question of whether Nvidia expects to have enough capacity to produce enough RTX 3060 and CMP HX cards to meet the demands of both gamers and crypto miners. Nvidia told Gizmodo via email that since the CMP HX cards do not meet its GeForce GPU specifications, it will not affect RTX 3060 production. There will be no production overlap because they are two completely different product lineups.
Fingers crossed that Nvidia’s crypto-mining cards will help ease the GPU shortage at least a little bit.