Nvidia, the graphics chip company that wants to buy ARM, made an unusual announcement last week.
The company is about to launch its latest GeForce GPU (graphics processing unit) chip, the RTX 3060, and wants its users to know that the chip is “designed to meet the needs of gamers and those creating digital experiences.” .
Our GeForce RTX GPUs introduce cutting-edge technologies like RTX real-time ray tracing, DLSS AI-accelerated image scaling technology, ultra-fast Reflex response rendering for the best system latency, and many more.
Ray tracing is an algorithm used to generate synthetic images that are almost incredibly realistic, correctly modeling complex optical interactions such as reflection, transparency, and refraction, but this type of realism comes at enormous computational cost.
So you can see why gamers and digital artists can be very keen on getting their hands on the latest special-purpose hardware that can speed up the creation of images rendered this way.
Horns of a dilemma
However, the dilemma faced by modern GPUs is that they are also quite good at performing cryptographic computations, such as computing hashes like SHA-2 and SHA-3 at high speed.
This type of algorithm is used at the heart of many cryptocurrency mining calculations.
So, you can see why crypto fans may be very keen to get their hands on the latest special purpose hardware that can speed up the calculations required to earn crypto.
This tension between graphics cards used for graphics and graphics cards used for crypto mining has caused new product launches from GPU makers to sell out almost immediately, followed by the inevitable price hike from buyers who were able to. get hold of retail stocks and then flip your cards for a quick profit online.
Selling a large number of products can be a great result for GPU vendors, but the artificial price inflation caused by stock shortages is a less welcome look for any mainstream business.
The company’s true customers, the end users who were looking for the product in the first place, end up feeling outmatched and aggrieved by the company itself, not by the buyers looking for quick money.
Crypto mining deemed harmful
Therefore, for its new product, Nvidia has openly stated in advance that its software drivers for the RTX 3060 are deliberately biased against crypto mining:
With the launch of the GeForce RTX 3060 on February 25, we are taking an important step to help ensure that GeForce GPUs end up in the hands of gamers. […] The RTX 3060 software drivers are designed to detect specific attributes of the Ethereum cryptocurrency mining algorithm and limit the hash rate, or cryptocurrency mining efficiency, by around 50 percent.
Simply put, Nvidia will try to detect the code you are running and will purposely, but not secretly, given its public announcement, remove what amounts to “denial of service” (DoS) actions against software it thinks it is dealing with. to make Ethereum. calculations on the GPU.
If you want to do crypto mining, Nvidia says, you need to buy a different product:
To address the specific needs of Ethereum mining, we announced NVIDIA CMP [Cryptocurrency Mining Processor] line of products for professional mining. CMP products, which do not make graphics, are [… ]optimized for the best mining performance and efficiency. They do not meet the required specifications of a GeForce GPU and therefore do not affect the availability of GeForce GPUs for gamers.
If you’re a cryptocurrency enthusiast, you might be wondering why Nvidia is focusing here on Ethereum (and its associated cryptocurrency Ether, or ETH) rather than the current cryptocurrency media favorite, Bitcoin (BTC).
After all, BTC calculations can be greatly sped up with GPUs, just like ETH calculations.
However, Bitcoin mining can be sped up even more dramatically by using special purpose chips created for the sole purpose of mining, which is why many BTC mining pools spend on custom mining hardware rather than buying GPUs. general purpose.
This is because BTC relies almost entirely on calculating SHA-256 crypto hashes over and over again, starting with a randomly chosen value each time.
However, Ethereum’s calculations currently use a strange combination of several different hashes, some cryptographic and some simply basic bit-shaking hashes, based on inputs pseudo-randomly drawn from a huge pseudo-randomly generated data set known as the data set.
This dataset must be recalculated every few days, takes up gigabytes of memory, and must be accessible directly in RAM during all your mining calculations.
That’s because the ETH algorithm, currently known as Ethash but often referred to by its original and much cooler name from Dagger-Hashimoto, was specifically designed to make fast computing on special purpose hardware difficult.
Any dedicated Ethereum mining hardware would not only need to include custom, accelerated hashing chips that could outperform your GPU, but should also be based on a better performing motherboard with better memory management hardware and faster RAM than your gaming platform.
What about cryptojacking?
Reports we’ve seen suggest that Nvidia’s anti-crypto drivers work by detecting memory usage that looks like a Dagger-Hashimoto calculation, which must follow unusual but unavoidable memory access patterns, and slowing down the hash rate. ETH in half.
Unfortunately this is not likely to discourage cryptojackers – the name given to cybercriminals who implant malware that use your computer to mine cryptocurrencies without permission.
Even though these new Nvidia drivers will cut cybercriminals’ rate of profit in half, criminals aren’t paying for electricity (you are!), So any illegally mined cryptocurrency is still essentially “money.” free “for them.
We also wonder how long it will take for unofficial patches for Nvidia drivers to appear to avoid the “dagger detector” slowdown code.
Hacking Nvidia drivers would break their digital signatures, but on your own Windows computer you can load modified, unsigned drivers quite easily.