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Nvidia’s new beta driver unlocks RTX 3060 Ethereum cryptocurrency mining

Nvidia’s new beta driver unlocks RTX 3060 Ethereum cryptocurrency mining


Nvidia probably didn’t mean to do this

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Nvidia implemented a special system to reduce the hash rate of Ethereum mining on its new RTX 3060 graphics card last month. It was supposed to limit mining performance by around 50 percent, but multiple reports now claim cryptominers have bypassed the protection.

Japanese site PC Watch first revealed that Nvidia’s protections can be bypassed without needing to modify a driver or BIOS. ComputerBase has since confirmed PC Watch’s report and revealed that Nvidia’s latest 470.05 beta driver is automatically unlocking performance for most RTX 3060 owners. Andreas Schilling, an editor at Hardwareluxx, has also backed up these findings.

A variety of RTX 3060 cards seem to be working with this beta driver

The beta driver appears to unlock Ethereum mining performance across a variety of RTX 3060 cards, which was likely not what Nvidia had planned for its test drivers. The 470.05 driver is designed for developers to test the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) performance and new features like OpenCL 3.0 support.

Nvidia originally restricted RTX 3060 mining performance in an attempt to steer cryptominers away from purchasing the cards. Nvidia is offering a new Cryptocurrency Mining Processor (CMP) for Ethereum miners instead. The beta driver bypass of Ethereum mining performance will certainly make the cards more attractive to cryptominers now.

Nvidia seemed confident in its software restrictions to nerf RTX 3060 mining performance. “It’s not just a driver thing,” said Bryan Del Rizzo, Nvidia’s head of communications, last month. “There is a secure handshake between the driver, the RTX 3060 silicon, and the BIOS (firmware) that prevents removal of the hash rate limiter.”

Nvidia has now confirmed that it accidentally released this driver with an unlock for mining. “A developer driver inadvertently included code used for internal development which removes the hash rate limiter on RTX 3060 in some configurations,” says a Nvidia spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. “The driver has been removed.”

Update, March 16th 6:10AM ET: Article updated with a statement from Nvidia.