NVIDIA this morning has released a new driver set for their GeForce cards, version 466.27. And though it’s primarily for next week’s release of Metro Exodus PC Enhanced Edition and a couple of other games, this latest driver drop from NVIDIA also includes an update to their anti-Ethereum throttle, which they first implemented in their GeForce RTX 3060 cards. In short, NVIDIA has tweaked future RTX 3060 cards to require this driver (or newer), which will prevent them from using older drivers that can bypass NVIDIA’s hash limiter. As a result, RTX 3060 cards shipping starting in mid-May will once again be fully locked down against running Ethereum at full (native) speed.

As a quick refresher, back in February with the launch of the GeForce RTX 3060 family of desktop video cards, NVIDIA implemented a novel throttling mechanism to artificially limit the Ethereum mining performance of the cards. This was done in an attempt to make the cards less palatable for miners – who have infamously been buying up cards in what is already a supply-constrained market – and thereby ensure more cards made it to gamers. Unfortunately for NVIDIA, this strategy worked for less than a month before the company accidentally released a driver without the full anti-Ethereum code in place, making it possible to mine Ethereum at full speed in some cases.

Now, having learned from their previous snafu, NVIDIA is taking another shot at locking down the Ethereum mining performance in future RTX 3060 cards by updating their hash limiter and preventing those new cards from using the older, broken development driver.

It also updates the hash limiter for the GeForce RTX 3060 and is required for products shipped starting mid-May 2021.

Unpacking this short (and somewhat ambiguous) statement a bit, starting with the next batch of RTX 3060 cards, which are expected to begin shipping in mid-May, 466.27 will be the minimum driver version required for these cards. Which, despite NVIDIA’s multi-branch naming system, is a newer driver than the compromised 470.05 released back in March. This driver has the updated hash limiter code, and thus, baring future unforced errors on NVIDIA’s part, it will not be possible to mine Ethereum at full speed on future RTX 3060 cards.

NVIDIA has otherwise been fairly tight-lipped on their anti-Ethereum code, but thanks to their March flub and efforts by miners to get around the code, we can take an educated guess at what NVIDIA is doing under the hood with these future RTX 3060 cards. Most likely, NVIDIA has blown an eFuse or two in order to require that newly-minted GA106 GPUs can’t be used with older BIOSes. By changing the minimum BIOS requirement, NVIDIA can have the newer BIOS enforce the newer driver requirement, with the driver in turn enforcing (or at least helping to enforce) the Ethereum throttle. All told, this is very similar to how hardware security works on consoles, where NVIDIA has some experience thanks to the Tegra X1-powered Nintendo Switch.

As for whether this attempt will fare any better than NVIDIA’s previous one, it remains to be seen. But even as things stand with current-generation RTX 3060 cards, NVIDIA’s anti-Ethereum throttle has largely held up; the March snafu has exposed that NVIDIA is already operating a “defense in depth” strategy with multiple checks to identify mining cards, looking for things such as cards operating on a PCIe x1 bus and cards not hooked up to monitors. So if there are any weaknesses, especially on the Linux side of things, then this will be NVIDIA’s opportunity to shore things up for their anti-Ethereum throttle.

Finally, NVIDIA has also informed us that these revised RTX 3060 cards will not be labeled any differently than existing RTX 3060 cards. Since the actual product specifications and functionality haven’t changed – and presumably the GPU hasn’t either – the revised cards will be sold with the same RTX 3060 branding as they have since their launch in February. So once these cards hit the market, it will end up being a relatively silent swap.

Source: NVIDIA

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  • Oxford Guy - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    Gross.

    Firstly, Nvidia is only selling one product with anti-mining tech. This inflates the price of that particular product. Nvidia's pricing is already inflated, even without the utterly insane situation we're in. So, this strategy of reserving the anti-mining tech for just one SKU is a strategy for inflating its price.

    Secondly, Nvidia is not allowing customers to purchase better-performing parts for gaming that have the anti-mining tech. This pushes planned obsolescence faster, particularly given all the hype around ray-tracing in games like Cyberpunk. It's a slap in the face of the PC gaming enthusiast — Nvidia's 'You're free to buy a console' routine. In this case, the console is the midrange card you're stuck with at a premium price — just as the existence of the console scam causes premium pricing across the board due to them sucking down wafers and software titles (redundant walled gardens with games artificially restricted to just one 'console').

    Thirdly, Nvidia — a very very wealthy company with very competent engineers, has already shown that it's not serious enough about this anti-mining stuff to do it properly. We don't give them the benefit of the doubt. They're not undergraduate university students; they are top professionals in charge of very expensive budgets. Lucy can keep her football, thank you very much.

    Fourthly, if Nvidia were more serious about this situation it would release anti-mining drivers for the Turing line.
    Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    'We don't give them the benefit of the doubt. '

    Some of us also remember the GTX 970 VRAM scam.

    Nvidia sold plenty of SLI systems to people based on the fiction that those cards had the same amount of VRAM as the (at the time) premium-priced 980. That's just one facet of the scam's benefit to Nvidia, which — of course — was treated to the claim that it didn't stand to benefit.
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Friday, April 30, 2021 - link

    "Firstly, Nvidia is only selling one product with anti-mining tech"
    Not quite right, as of May their entire range will have it.

    "just as the existence of the console scam causes premium pricing across the board"
    Cobblers.
    Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    'As a quick refresher, back in February with the launch of the GeForce RTX 3060 family of desktop video cards, NVIDIA implemented a novel throttling mechanism to artificially limit the Ethereum mining performance of the cards. This was done in an attempt to make the cards less palatable for miners – who have infamously been buying up cards in what is already a supply-constrained market – and thereby ensure more cards made it to gamers. Unfortunately for NVIDIA, this strategy worked for less than a month before the company accidentally released a driver without the full anti-Ethereum code in place, making it possible to mine Ethereum at full speed in some cases.'

    Unfortunately for Nvidia? Are you kidding?

    It wasn't done to make the cards less palatable for miners. It was done as a PR move and to inflate the demand/pricing for the card. Mainly, it was done as a PR move, as demand was plenty high because of the execrable situation we're in thanks to lack of adequate competition in multiple industries.
    Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Thursday, April 29, 2021 - link

    It also should be illegal to sell multiple varieties of the 'same' product without labeling them.

    Restricting the functionality of one hidden variety of a product more than another is a form of bait and switch fraud.

    TV companies should have been sued for their 'panel lottery' tactics, as one example of that. It's sad to see how passive consumers are in the face of things like that — and how toothless regulators are.
    Reply
  • nucc1 - Saturday, May 1, 2021 - link

    If they did that to say the 3070 which wasn't launched with these restrictions, perhaps you'd have an argument. It doesn't hold much for the 3060, even if they accidentally rolled back the limitation. Reply
  • Gadgety - Friday, April 30, 2021 - link

    Until there's something they can deliver it all just seems like true noise in the system. " NVIDIA has also informed us..." I can imagine the number of people following these "news" has fallen drastically. Reply
  • Justaperson - Wednesday, June 16, 2021 - link

    Well i can confirm that if you have the old version 3060 with the beta driver and put in a non lhr (mid may) 3060 when you remove the card since well its not recoginized your windows is terminated no way to salvage anything. No safeboot etc. Reply
  • Martha Moreno - Thursday, August 26, 2021 - link

    Anyone with access to the internet and suitable hardware can participate in mining. If a contract of 2260EUR can gain 8959 EUR in 21 days, then imagine a contract of 48,659 EUR (1 BTC) using the PandaMiner B1 Plus, L3+ Antminer, Ebit E9 Miner 6.5T Bitcoin Miner or T9 Antminer. Ask yourself, what will it yield in 116 days also?
    As an IPM investor I have made over $32000 in my first quarter, been the most secure trending investment through the help of a code engineer who builds manual miner of different models. These miners can be used to earn more with either Litcoin. bitcoin or ethereum .. kindly contact this crypto digger to get yours and have it shipped to your house in less than 3days. And the amzing thing about these miner is that it consumes very low power. so you can reach out to him via gmail{bitcoindigger86}
    Reply
  • Martha Moreno - Thursday, August 26, 2021 - link

    Anyone with access to the internet and suitable hardware can participate in mining. If a contract of 2260EUR can gain 8959 EUR in 21 days, then imagine a contract of 48,659 EUR (1 BTC) using the PandaMiner B1 Plus, L3+ Antminer, Ebit E9 Miner 6.5T Bitcoin Miner or T9 Antminer. Ask yourself, what will it yield in 116 days also?
    As an IPM investor I have made over $32000 in my first quarter, been the most secure trending investment through the help of a code engineer who builds manual miner of different models. These miners can be used to earn more with either Litcoin. bitcoin or ethereum .. kindly contact this crypto digger to get yours and have it shipped to your house in less than 3days. And the amzing thing about these miner is that it consumes very low power. so you can reach out to him via gmail{bitcoindigger86}
    Reply

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