NVIDIA’s Crypto Calamity – PC Perspective

Goodbye Low Hash Rate, Hello SEC Fines

Compared to the amount of money that cryptocurrency markets have recently lost, $ 5.5 million USD is not that big; then again for a fine it is rather significant. That is the amount that the SEC fined NVIDIA for thinking investors about who was buying their graphics cards and for what reason. NVIDIA claimed it was gamers buying up the majority of their GPUs back in 2017, a claim that any PC enthusiast would have found absolutely laughable.

It might seem odd that the SEC and investors would care where NVIDIA’s revenue came from, after all they make the same profit from a miner as they would from a gamer. In this case it is not about the source of the income, but the honesty of NVIDIA during investor calls. It seems that NVIDIA spent some effort to convince their investors that while sales of other GPU manufacturers made were effected by the crypto-craze, NVIDIA was not. That willful thinking of their investors is what NVIDIA got in trouble and could continue to as the market five years ago was bad but nowhere near as bad as it is now.

One of the assurances NVIDIA offered both investors and customers about how they would deal with miners grabbing all the cards was their low hash rate technology. NVIDIA claimed that their LHR implementation would hamstring the effectiveness of their cards working on Etherium algorithms while not affecting gaming performance whatsoever. This lead to the famous statement that it was baked into the hardware; something which was quickly disproven with a developer driver that ensured full performance when mining.

NVIDIA did continue to try to make it difficult to mine on their GPUs and went as far as releasing Cryptocurrency Mining Processors, which never sold well at all. Recently it was discovered that the CMPs are never going to sell well as once again LHR has been defeated by crypto-addicts. Crypto-mining platform NiceHash released a Windows version of their software which is able to circumvent NVIDIA’s mitigations, and force RTX 3xxx cards to mine at full speed. Ars Technica tried it out and indeed, it does exactly what NiceHash claims.

The advent of RTX 4xxx cards in the near future may or may not be compatible with this new workaround; if NVIDIA can indeed block it you can bet that yet another workaround will be developed and the shortages we all hate will continue for the foreseeable future. Though if the trend described in the link just below the fold continues, the shortages might not be quite as bad.

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Naveen Kumar

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