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What just happened? Nvidia has pulled the developer driver it released yesterday that removed the "unhackable" Ethereum mining limiter code from its RTX 3060 card. Sadly for the company, copies of the software will doubtlessly be in the hands of mining communities, which will use it to bypass the card's restrictions.
Yesterday brought the surprising news that the GeForce 470.05 beta driver, which was available to developers under the Windows Insider Program, removed the hash rate limiter from most RTX 3060 cards. Given how much Nvidia lauded the limiter as "unhackable," one imagines that the employee responsible for releasing a workout will be feeling the heat right now.
Nvidia has since confirmed the driver contained the limiter-removing code. "A developer driver inadvertently included code used for internal development which removes the hash rate limiter on RTX 3060 in some configurations," a company spokesperson said in a statement. "The driver has been removed."
Nvidia had stressed that the limiter wasn't 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," Nvidia's head of communications, Bryan Del Rizzo, previously said.
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.— Bryan Del Rizzo (@bdelrizzo) February 19, 2021
PC Gamer notes that the driver workaround has some restrictions when using more than one card running the Ethereum mining algorithm. Riser cables can't be used, which are common in huge mining rigs, and you'll need a motherboard with plenty of PCIe slots if you want to run more than one RTX 3060 at the top 50MH/s mining rate. You also need to stick a dummy HDMI connector in each card.
Nvidia has hinted that all its future GeForce cards will come with the same Ethereum hash rate limiter, including the RTX 3080 Ti that's rumored to drop next month. It'll be interesting to see if the current driver will also unlock the restrictions on these products, though the company will likely implement a way to block it.