As far as I remember, this was created to limit mining performance. If this cut-down is not going to affect performance in usual tasks like video editing and gaming, why do GPUs have it in the first place?
[The Register article states:](https://www.theregister.com/2021/05/18/nvidia_ethereum_rtx_gpus/)
The chip-design giant developed driver-level software to detect when its hardware was being used for proof-of-work algorithms used in mining cryptocurrencies like Ethereum. The mining efficiency or hash rate is reduced by 50 per cent in these cases, making the chips less attractive to miners and in theory more available for video game players.
In basic terms this means the GPUs know when they are being used for mining and reduce their processing, for gaming they perform at full capacity.
No, they work by trying to detect when someone is specifically using the card for mining, and only reducing performance at that point. So it’s not like they just built the card and cut out a part that lets it mine, they just tried to make it smart enough to know when to throttle itself so it would be worse at mining.
A lot of the same functions that make GPUs good at mining also make them good at all the other tasks people use them for. That’s why people switched to GPUs for mining in the first place. So you couldn’t realistically remove that functionality entirely without actually impacting performance on other tasks. So instead they just tell it to look out for anything they don’t want you doing and then cut performance across the board while you’re doing it.
They say it’s unhackable, but that’s almost certainly not true. We didn’t really get to find out though since Nvidia released a test driver by mistake that didn’t include the limiter. So no one needed to make their own work around once they could get Nvidias. They are trying again with new cards soon, so maybe this time it’ll last a little longer.
GPUs now are a bit like “programmable CPUs”, or ASICs.
Basically, you can program them to do functions in hardware. Some very specific functions are used for mining cryptos, usually one specific algorithm per crypto family ( i say family because nearly every bitcoin derived cryptos use the same algorithm). Mostly, GPUs are used to mine ethereum, because that is the crypto that earns the most. It will also stop being that much profitable in july, with some modifications to the transaction system, and it is supposed to go “proof of stake”, meaning it cannot be mined anymore, by the end of the year.
That being said, nvidia’s new GPU lock means it will recognise the algorithm used to mine ethereum, and perform lower when found. The algorithm is very unlikely to ever be used for gaming or video editing.
Note: unlike the previous “soft lock” , that was a kind of an added identifier chip on the board that the driver would read, then cut performance or not, the new one is supposedly a “hardware lock”, meaning the locking part is IN the GPU and cannot be bypassed.
Now, the reason nvidia does that is simply to shift the blame from them to a convenient scapegoat.
Nvidia cannot face the demand for its 30×0 chips, due to originally not making enough, then being struck by the global chip shortage, and that is not going to be better soon.
Just like every product in huge demand and low supply, it gets scalped to oblivion. AMD’s card suffer from the same, although their architecture prevents them from being used for mining.
But popular opinion claims this is caused – and keeps going on- because miners buy them all.
Now, miners usually do it for the money, which means they are predictable. upon a very simple return on investment computation, and a risk vs reward analysis. And, most of all, they use the cards, they do not sell them. Meaning if you can get cards, even at scalping price, it means miners do not get them.
The question is then “are cards available at scalper prices ?” and since the answer is “yes”, it means miners are not a concern. They may have been by the end of last year/start of this one, but it became very risky financially wise to start eth mining past february/march. It did hit an all time high not that long ago… and lost more than 70% of its value in a couple of days, last week.
In the end what most people do now when they buy a 3070 or 3080 is to use them to play / work, and mine when they do not, because it went from highly technical to as simple as making some double clicks. Just … dont expect making much doing that.
Since popular opinion says miners are the cause, and not nvidia for not making sufficient chips, nvidia claims they are doing something to address that issue.
This gives them a few months of tranquility. And then they will probably say miners bypassed their protection as a reason for the scalping to continue.
Hopefully this ends up being close enough to ELI5.
As far as I know the hashrate limiter in the rtx 3060 was made in software only. More accurately with the GPU driver. I don’t yet know how nvidia will end up implementing the same limiter in the upcoming versions of the other 3000 series cards, but my bet is that it’s still mostly done on the software side. Basically the gpu driver is detecting a specific type of computation and in such instance throttling the performance. By the way this only applies to the hashing algorithm used by ethereum. Other algorithms shouldn’t be affected.
Nvidia’s argument for the restriction is that that there would be more gpu’s available for other users (eg. gamers), as miners would gravitate towards other cards.
The more probable reason is that they will be also coming out with a miner specific line of cards. So in the end it’s about squeezing more money out consumers.