Prior to the GeForce RTX 3060's launch earlier this week, NVIDIA announced it was limiting the hash rate of its latest GPU when it detects Ethereum mining algorithms. This was designed to push cryptocurrency miners away from the latest graphics card and hopefully wait for NVIDIA's mining-specific card - the CMP - to release later this year.
However, just one day after its release, the RTX 3060 is suffering from the same fate as its fellow RTX 30 Series cards. It is sold out almost everywhere. Those set on buying the RTX 3060 will need to resort to eBay, where the card is selling well above its MSRP.
While component shortages and scalpers will certainly have played a role in the RTX 3060's scarcity, we should ask: Does the RTX 3060 actually prevent cryptocurrency mining?
Cryptocurrency mining on the RTX 3060
To NVIDIA's credit, the hash rate limit does have some functionality in preventing Ethereum mining. By identifying the 'Dagger-Hashimoto' or 'Ethash', the limited rate should reduce mining efficiency by 50%. This will make the mining process much less profitable and pushing miners away from the RTX 3060. Of course, these miners could just buy up NVIDIA's other RTX 30 Series card, which NVIDIA has said it has no plans to limit the hash rate for, but that's another story.
However, NVIDIA's hash rate limit is currently only tailored to one cryptocurrency - Ethereum. Ethereum is among the more popular cryptocurrencies to mine, but the likes of Monero, Conflux and RavenCoin also offer profitable alternatives for those with mining setups.
Miners on Reddit also remain pretty certain that eventually, the hash rate limiter will be cracked and a workaround to the encryption will be able to bypass the limit. These could then be distributed across the internet and loaded onto GPUs.
"Disgruntled nerds on the internet don't like being told 'no'," one poster said on the r/GPUmining subreddit. "They can be very determined."
It seems like it might be more a matter of 'when' rather than 'if'.
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Does it stop cryptojacking?
Cryptojacking is the practice of planting malware into PCs to mine cryptocurrency without the person knowing or consenting.
As pointed out by Sophos' Paul Ducklin, those with an RTX 3060 are still vulnerable to cryptojacker attacks. "Even though these new NVIDIA drivers will halve the earning rate of cybercriminals, the crooks aren't paying for the electricity (you are!)," Ducklin said. "So any unlawfully mined cryptocoins are still essentially “free money” for them."
Of course, cryptojacking is a criminal offence, with two Romanian hackers sentenced to a combined 38 years in prison following an investigation by the FBI, after infecting 400,000 computers with malware to mine Bitcoin and Monero.
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