September 27, 2021

A Crypto Investor

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RTX 3060 Ether mining accidentally unlocked by Nvidia’s own update

A software update released by Nvidia inadvertently bypassed the Ether (ETH) mining block the firm placed on its own GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card.

A spokesperson for Nvidia confirmed on Tuesday that the latest 470.05 driver update was mistakenly released with code intended for use only by Nvidia developers, which allowed for the removal of the hash rate limiter.

“A developer driver inadvertently included code used for internal development which removes the hash rate limiter on RTX 3060 in some configurations,” said an Nvidia spokesperson, as reported by The Verge.

In February, Nvidia decided to intentionally hamper the Ether-mining effectiveness of its RTX 3060 series graphics cards to prevent a demand-induced shortage caused by crypto miners. A three-way handshake between the hardware, the software and the computer firmware was supposed to ensure that the card recognized when it was being used to mine Ether and cut its computational power in half, from 50 megahertz per second to 25 MH/s.

But the back door that allowed the card’s hash rate limiter to be bypassed came from the software side, and it was released by Nvidia itself. The offending beta update has since been pulled by the software company, but versions of it have already made it out onto the internet.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Andreas Schilling of tech website HardwareLuxx tested reports that custom edits to a computer’s BIOS were required to bypass the hash rate limiter. After testing driver 470.05 with a custom and standard BIOS, Schilling confirmed that no special modifications were required and that Nvidia’s driver removed the hash rate limiter itself.

While the news only compounds the misery of gamers waiting to upgrade their graphics cards, the gaffe by Nvidia might not necessarily result in Ether miners eating up the next supply of GPU shipments. According to Hexus, the latest reports suggest that the affected driver can only unlock one RTX 3060 at a time, rendering it unsuitable for use in large mining-farms, for the time being at least.

Initial rumors suggested a custom modification had bypassed the RTX 3060’s hash rate limiter last Wednesday, allowing it to mine Ether at full capacity. It was later revealed that the mod had not enabled the card to mine Ether specifically but had been rigged to enable the mining of another GPU-mineable cryptocurrency, Ravencoin (RVN).