Continuing their ongoing efforts to limit the Ethereum mining performance of their GeForce video cards – and thus make them less enticing for miners – NVIDIA today has announced that they are bringing their cryptocurrency hash limiter to additional GeForce cards. Already a fixture on the vanilla GeForce RTX 3060 since it’s launch, NVIDIA has begun incorporating their hash limiting technology and its associated security stack into newly manufacture red GeForce RTX 3080, 3070, and 3060 Ti cards. The new cards will appear on shelves later this month, and will carry the “LHR” branding to differentiate themselves from the first-generation, unthrottled cards.

We’ve been covering the ongoing matter of NVIDIA and Ethereum mining for several months now, as the company has worked to deal with the unexpected (and largely unmanageable) surge in video card demand that has come as the price of Ethereum tokens has exploded. Even with the cryptocurrency down almost 20% in a week, Ethereum mining is still quite profitable on NVIDIA cards. Which in turn has contributed to an unprecedented and sustained spike in demand for video cards that NVIDIA (and AMD) are unable to meet.

In order to make their cards less useful to miners – and to try to shift shipments back to gaming customers – NVIDIA began rolling out an Ethereum hash limiter, starting with their GeForce RTX 3060 card back in February. NVIDIA’s hash limiter throttles a card’s Ethereum mining performance to 50% of its native rate, reducing (though not eliminating) a card’s usefulness and profitability for mining. Overall, this initial rollout did not go quite as planned thanks to an unforced error on NVIDIA’s part that partially disabled the throttle. But it clearly has not deterred NVIDIA as they have continued to refine their hash limiter and, now, are expanding it to other cards.

To that end, NVIDIA is adding the hash limiter to new GeForce RTX 3080, 3070, and 3060 Ti cards. As always, the company isn’t sharing much in the way of technical details, but it looks like this is the same hash limiter that is going into revised GeForce RTX 3060 cards, which began shipping in the middle of this month. Key among that technology is an updated vBIOS that requires a minimum driver version – 466.71 in the case of hash-limited 3080/3070/3060Ti cards – preventing their use with older drivers that lack throttling capabilities. Through the combination of the revised vBIOS and drivers, NVIDIA in turn is able to detect and limit the Ethereum hashing performance of these new cards.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 Series Release Info
  Original LHR/Revised
RTX 3090 09/2020 -
RTX 3080 09/2020 Late May
RTX 3070 10/2020 Late May
RTX 3060 Ti 12/2020 Late May
RTX 3060* 02/2021 Mid May
*RTX 3060 shipped with an earlier version of NVIDIA's hash limiter

Meanwhile, these new cards will be receiving additional labeling to differentiate them from the original generation of unthrottled cards. Calling this throttling feature “Lite Hash Rate”, or “LHR”, according to NVIDIA there will be LHR branding/information put on the relevant product boxes as well as on retail websites. Ostensibly, this is to communicate to buyers that the cards are hash-limited, but at the same time it’s likely that this branding is required for legal reasons as well, as NVIDIA is introducing an additional limitation that was not present on the original generation of cards.

This is a slightly different branding strategy from how they’ve handled the RTX 3060, owing in large part to the RTX 3060 shipping with a hash limiter from day one. In the case of the RTX 3060, even when NVIDIA began shipping revised cards earlier this month no branding changes were needed, and few (if any) RTX 3060 cards mention being hash rate limited. With that said, we’ve already seen Gigabyte accidentally publish and then pull RTX 3060 product pages that mention LHR as well, so we may see NVIDIA’s board partners use the LHR branding across their entire GeForce product lines in order to be consistent.

Ethereum performance aside, NVIDIA says that the upcoming LHR GeForce cards are functionally identical to the original generation GeForce 30 series cards as far as compute and gaming performance go. For our part, we have not seen the Ethereum throttle trigger in other use cases on the RTX 3060, so we’re not expecting different behavior on the more powerful GeForce cards. For better or worse, Ethereum has a very distinct workload (memory bandwidth bound and comprised almost entirely of random-access operations), so it’s rather easy to tell apart from games and even other compute workloads.

Finally, the GeForce RTX 3090, NVIDIA’s flagship GeForce 30-series card, will be the odd man out as far as the LHR changes go. NVIDIA is not issuing an LHR version of that card, owing to the fact that the $1500 MSRP card’s rate of return isn’t nearly as high as the likes of the RTX 3080 and RTX 3060 Ti, making it relatively less popular with miners.

As with the launch of throttled RTX 3060 cards, NVIDIA says that they are doing this to better ensure that GeForce cards make it to gamers, as opposed to being conscripted into mining farms. Overall, this is part of a larger overall NVIDIA strategy to respond to the rise of Ethereum and the resulting crush of demand in the short term and the long term. Ideally, NVIDIA would like to shift Ethereum miners over to their CMP series of dedicated mining cards, which fetch higher prices don’t (directly) compete with GeForce cards. Meanwhile, reducing the number of GeForce cards going into mining means those cards don’t boomerang back on to the second-hard market once the Ethereum mining bubble does pop, thereby avoiding the kind of supply glut that lead to the crypto-hangover of 2018.

Wrapping things up, the revised LHR GeForce 30-series cards are already in production, and will begin shipping to retailers later this month. Given how quickly video cards of all flavors have been selling, the remaining unthrottled cards should quickly sell out. At which point we expect that NVIDIA’s anti-Ethereum measures will truly be put to the test, as miners will be facing their own supply shortages.

Source: NVIDIA

Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • Yojimbo - Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - link

    No. Firstly, miners don't sell their cards that much. Miners buy GPUs during crypto booms, when prices are high. and they mine with them as long as they are profitable. If they become unprofitable then when they want to sell them the cards probably won't be worth much. Plus they have to get them from the remote crypto mining places to the US and Europe to where the buyers are. It makes more economic sense to just store the cards waiting for another boom so they can avoid buying cards at high prices again during a shortage and instead quickly take advantage of the boom and make much more money than they could make by selling second-hand cards as low prices. Secondly, the gamers buying the cards from the miners would be gamers that would have otherwise bought the cards from NVIDIA instead of the miners buying it from NVIDIA. So the miners don't cost NVIDIA sales. What they do do is make the sales more lumpy and hard to predict and cause booms and busts. And that is a concern. But it's not nearly as big of a concern as NVIDIA not serving their customer base.That customer base is gamers. Gamers are brand conscious and represent a long-term, stable demand. Miners are just quick cash. Selling to miners is much less valuable from a business point of view. That's one reason why when Bitmain had revenues and profits half of NVIDIA's they weren't able to price an $18 billion IPO like they wanted to even though NVIDIA's market cap was $100 billion at the time.

    So yes, cards coming onto the secondary market is a concern, but it's a secondary concern far behind the concern of getting the cards into the hands of gamers. Many people's default seems to be cynicism for anything successful. On the other hand, if the thing is unsuccessful they are more trusting. The world doesn't work that way. It's a good way to get hurt.
  • CiccioB - Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - link

    Not truly exact.
    Second hand market can be a problem for Nvidia (and AMD too) for a simple reason.
    Supposing that this crypt madness will soon end, gamers that could not buy a new GPU during these months will gladly but it on second hand markets when miners will dump their worthless mine farms. And seen the numbers the market will be flooded, the prices could just be quite low.

    As you said this is not a real economical lost for Nvidia which has already sold this immense number of cards but for two factors:
    1. if for any reason these mining cards won't arrive to the gamers' hands, Nvidia would sell twice. This is greedy, but money are money, though there's not really anything they can do to prevent that. Stop supporting old BIOS with ETH support is not an option. Nonetheless, any strategy to achieve that, even minimal, is a direct increase in future incomes.
    2. More important is that this flood of "new" GPUs in the game market will delay the need for the next generation. Depending on how much are the performance differences (and the prices, which however must be low to compete with the discounted second hand flood), next GPU generation could just be partially ignored for the exact time this crypto thing has lasted.
    A parte hte top enthusiast 2% of the market that wants the latest and fastest at any cost, anyone else will buy a second hand card with the equivalent performances of the next generation lower tier if the prices are lower. I mean, a 4060 must be competitive to a second hand 3070/ti price to have an appeal.
    So the economic damage just hit in the form of same incomes diluted in a longer period.
  • Yojimbo - Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - link

    "Second hand market can be a problem for Nvidia (and AMD too) for a simple reason.
    Supposing that this crypt madness will soon end, gamers that could not buy a new GPU during these months will gladly but it on second hand markets when miners will dump their worthless mine farms. And seen the numbers the market will be flooded, the prices could just be quite low."

    I already commented entirely on that situation in my post
  • CiccioB - Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - link

    Which I think is a wrong interpretation of what happened with the first bubble when the market was flooded with too many second hand Pascal cards and Turing launch had to be postponed as Nvidia took almost a year to sell off the remaining stock of Pascal GPUs.

    I wonder what a miner could do today with a bunch of Pascal/Polaris cards instead of the same energy/space occupied by 3xxx generation GPUs.
    Selling them when they are worth something and then buy the new faster more efficient ones when they are needed (and after a bubble you do not know when they will) is the natural thing to do (as actually they did and probably will also do this time).

    Just hope that ETH will soon pass to PoS so that all those GPUs will be useless the day after and for the future for doing such a useless thing as the "mining" lottery.
  • Yojimbo - Monday, May 31, 2021 - link

    This is even after the price of ethereum has gone down 33% from its highs. Now why would they not be running these cards? If they had sold them back in 2018 they'd be running around looking to buy them again at a big loss (from what they sold them for), as well as a delay in getting them online, since they can't get enough of whatever is profitable. Miners believe in mining and believe in cryptocurrency. They are going to want to be ready for the next surge. They would have held onto their assets as long as possible until they started to go bankrupt and had to liquidate. And just because it took 2 1/2 years for the next craze doesn't mean they weren't all waiting around with baited breathe 6 months later, 1 year later, 18 months later, etc. Just put yourself in their shoes. When were they "worth something" to sell? Well they weren't going to sell during the craze when they were actually worth something. After the craze they were hardly worth much. So suppose they sold a heavily used 1060 after the crash for what? $100? $150? Now for the last 150 days they could be getting at least a dollar a day from it. But when were they going to sell it? When they decided "oh, nahh, crypto ain't ever gonna boom again." Tell me which miners were thinking that. The ones that thought it got out of the mining business and most likely sold much of their equipment in bulk to other miners in the same area. It's a lot easier and cost effective to liquidate in bulk locally than to try to pull and distribute thousands of GPUs across the globe.
  • alphasquadron - Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - link

    I don't know about the rest of your paragraph but I corrected one of the statements to read correctly:
    Many people's default seems to be jealousy for anything successful.

    For example, I hate it when I see people driving around in nice cars. Fuck them, why can't that be me. I bet they cheated somehow to get to that point in life.
  • Yojimbo - Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - link

    No, I don't think it's jealousy. It's a distrust. It's relates to their sense of order. I think it's a common trope inserted into the culture at various places by those with a Marxist viewpoint. Although it's possible it also evolved from the value against "selling out". That value doesn't seem to really exist so much any more, but the trope started back when it did. I'm not really sure but I definitely see a general trend of "successful = corrupt and evil, unsuccessful = oppressed and pure" among many people becoming fans of things, including of companies and historical figures (look at the Edison/Tesla thing for example. Tesla was as big of a self-promoter as Edison, he just wasn't as successful of an industrialist. But at some point the Cult of Tesla took over, although peak Cult of Tesla has probably passed now. It was really big 20 years ago).
  • imaheadcase - Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - link

    No, its because they want to sell its own dedicated card just for mining, no graphics from it at all.
  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, May 20, 2021 - link

    P.s. nVidia does nothing, unless it makes them money.
  • Zingam - Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - link

    Dumb. That reminds me of the long dead communism.
    Just make more cards.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now