A rare glimmer of hope in the ongoing Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series stock shortage came when the latest card in the range, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, launched with an added limiter on its digital currency mining efficiency. Sadly, it seems there’s already a way to bypass it — and it involves Nvidia’s own drivers.
The idea behind the hash rate limiter, which halves the GeForce RTX 3060’s Ethereum mining capabilities, was that it would mean fewer miners would snap up the already minimal stock, leaving more for actual PC gamers. But as first reported by Chinese site PC Watch (opens in new tab), the limiter is disabled by simply installing Nvidia’s GeForce 470.05 beta drivers.
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Guru3D forum (opens in new tab) user hapghost seemingly confirmed the workaround, posting screenshots of Ethereum mining running at full tilt. The 470.05 driver isn’t publicly available per se — it’s distributed to developers via Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program — and in a statement to the Verge, (opens in new tab) Nvidia confirmed that the driver has since been removed.
Still, it’s quite the mess-up to release drivers that completely negate one’s own key features. Nvidia spokesman Bryan Del Rizzo tweeted (opens in new tab) last month that the limiter involved “a secure handshake between the driver, the RTX 3060 silicon and the BIOS” that would prevent its removal; in retrospect, this may not be entirely accurate.
Hi Ryan. It's not just a driver thing. There is a secure handshake between the driver, the RTX 3060 silicon, and the BIOS (firmware) that prevents removal of the hash rate limiter.February 19, 2021
The closest thing to an upside here is that in all likelihood, the mining limiter’s defeat won’t actually change the GPU stock situation very much. As anyone who’s tried to find where to buy the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 will know, the card sold out instantly on launch day and has been extremely hard to get ever since.
And that was with an intact limiter. So even if miners do end up going for the RTX 3060 after all, it’s not like there’s much more stock left for them to take.
The rumored Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti is tipped to feature a similar mining limiter, and potentially other Nvidia GPUs in the future will too. It’s hard to say that it’s been working out for the RTX 3060, though, so stock levels may need to increase through the more old-fashioned method of boosting production.