Nvidia confirms it accidentally unlocked RTX 3060 Ethereum mining

Photo by Sam Byford / The Verge

Nvidia made a big deal about reducing the hash rate of Ethereum mining on its new RTX 3060 graphics card last month. A special system was supposed to make the RTX 3060 undesirable for cryptominers, but Nvidia has now confirmed that it has accidentally unlocked those restrictions with a new driver.

“A developer driver inadvertently included code used for internal development which removes the hash rate limiter on RTX 3060 in some configurations,” says an Nvidia spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. “The driver has been removed.”

While Nvidia has now removed the driver, the genie is out of the bottle. Nvidia’s latest 470.05 beta driver automatically unlocks performance for most RTX 3060 cards, boosting hashing rates for Ethereum mining. Mirrors of the driver can easily be found online, and Nvidia won’t be able to prevent RTX 3060 owners from continuing to use this driver in the future.

Nvidia originally restricted RTX 3060 mining performance in an attempt to steer cryptominers away from purchasing the cards. The GPU maker seemed confident that its restrictions couldn’t be defeated, even claiming it wasn’t just a driver holding back 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 clearly wasn’t expecting to release a driver that would accidentally unlock its own restrictions.

Comments

This is just hilarious really, especially after the song and dance Nvidia made about the security associated with this ‘feature’. I do wonder whether it was a genuine mistake on the part of the developer responsible for the release, or a ‘mistake’ that he received inducements to make.

Hanlon’s Razor:

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Is it possible that someone could have purposely released it? Sure. But far more likely it was accidentally left in and released because leaving developer code out of a driver set has literally never been a problem in the past. It probably passed QC checks that didn’t include "Remove the code that enables full hashrates on the 3060 because we advertised the shit out of that", and was released.

But of course it was a mistake, Nvidia…

Link to driver?

Wow, what an ‘accident’.

Any big bank deposits for the developer, lately?

I don’t know if you ever tried to send an important e-mail late on a friday afternoon or similar stuff… this shit just happens. No need for conspiracy theories

No it doesn’t. Developer drivers don’t just "accidentally happen". How many times do you recall downloading or even hearing mention of a developer driver over the past several years? Two decades? How about of any software at all and not just graphics drivers? Thought so. Coincidentally this one time it actually mattered most it happens.

How many times over the past several years or two decades that a driver has specifically disabled an aspect of said card, only to find that it works fine with a certain driver?

It’s extremely possible that it happens. The reason it never gets reported is that nobody gives a shit (or would even know to look) if it does.

No, what you are thinking of is flashing a lower end GPU with a higher end GPU’s modified VBIOS. This allows it to unlock additional performance/features depending on the situation. As for this topic, which is completely different from what you confused it with, it typically does not happen. In fact, further supporting the intentional "accident" to try and keep a clean public face is the fact of multiple lawsuits over Nvidia’s bias towards cryptominers at gamer’s expense.

Sounds like it was a beta branch that someone accidentally committed to from a test branch. That shit actually does happen all the time. Less than two years ago Microsoft accidentally pushed an early test build to their entire Windows Insider program, causing all sorts of problem.

Microsoft handles updates very differently and is also notorious for being something of a joke when it comes to security and updates. Both Nvidia and AMD don’t have histories of this type of scenario and Nvidia is already under scrutiny regarding multiple lawsuits due to severe bias towards crytominers negatively impacting the intended markets.

Not that I am sure it was an accident but there are easy mistakes to make like this in development. An example would be pre-processor directives that can physically change the compiled code based on the build type e.g. debug, beta, release. Pseudo code:

#if Release
InitHashRateLimit();
#endif

It’s easy for a human to make a mistake like that and forget about beta builds going out to the public.

If that is true, make them commit to flashing the firmware as of April 1st to prevent this driver from working. But.. they won’t. They’d rather sell in bulk to miners than the general public.

History repeats itself.

It wasn’t a developer that released it, it was nvidia themselves who put the beta driver onto their developer website, so it’s available to all with an nvidia dev account (which is free to join)

Oh no.

I am very sure it was a mistake…not

nVidia didn’t see their cards sell out as quickly as before so disabled the one thing that makes their stuff sell instantly. Publicly traded companies do not give AF. The moment their stock holders baulk at anything that might slow or reduce profits companies cave immediately.

I think the 3060s were sufficiently sold out prior to the mess up.

Right? Nvidia’s stock holders don’t give a shit if the 3060 sold out in 5 minutes or 2 hours. And truthfully, they probably don’t give a shit if the cards sold out to the public at all, considering Nvidia sees no money from sales at that level. By the time cards hit the street, Nvidia has LONG since received their payment for the GPU.

Wanna know what shareholders are pissed about? It’s the exact same thing that gamers are pissed about – un-sold demand. Shareholders make money when GPUs get sold. So if all available stock is selling, they’re not saying, "Why did this sell out in 2 hours as opposed to 5 minutes?!". They’re saying, "If this sold out, why isn’t there additional stock to be sold?".

Confirming it’s a software level lock makes me doubt the long term holdout, particularly with this driver now in the wild.

Just remember everyone. These limiters aren’t just a driver thing. lol

Will Nvidia commit to disabling this in hardware on future RTX 3060 releases? If not, then this is just PR. They care more about miners than consumers.

They don’t give a shit about either one, truthfully. They take a bad PR hit for not being able to put cards in users’ hands, but honestly as long as they can sell the GPUs they don’t really give a shit who buys them.

And still, while miners are part of the problem they’re FAR from the largest problem. The problem is the higher-than-expected failure rate at Samsung, and the global semiconductor materials shortage drastically reducing supply.

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