Gamers are struggling to find the latest generation graphics cards, the fault, according to the manufacturer Nvidia, to the « minors » of cryptomoney. To discourage them, it intends to restrict the mining performance of its next card, the GTX 3060.
Nvidia launched its new generation of graphics cards several months ago, but they remain almost impossible to find for French gamers: all models (3090, 3080, 3070 and 3060ti) are out of stock at most online merchants.
According to the American brand, the fault lies partly with the producers of cryptomoney. According to the brand, they would use these cards to produce dematerialized money, like Ethereum: « They buy pallets of a thousand when they leave the factories. We produce a lot of cards at the moment but they don’t always reach the right people, » regrets a spokesperson for Nvidia France.
To fight against these misappropriations, the manufacturer is going to clamp down on its new graphics card, the GTX 3060, which will be on sale on February 25th. Its performance will be reduced by about 50% for « mining » currencies, as explained in a press release, but obviously not for games. Nvidia’s French spokesman expects « that the miners of cryptomoney will try to break this bridle, but our engineers think it is very robust ».
What about the other cards of the new Nvidia range? They are not affected by this reduction in performance – a manufacturer can hardly bridle an existing product without exposing himself to legal difficulties. The latter models will therefore remain attractive to minors, which may lead to concerns about their availability.
However, Nvidia has planned a diversion in order to convince the producers of cryptomoney products to turn away from them: a range of cards will soon be designed for them, called « CMP » (Cryptocurrency Mining Processor). These cards designed specifically for mining could be less expensive because they only integrate electronic chips for pure computing, leaving aside the graphics circuits.
While the production of electronic chips has been struggling for several months to meet world demand, one can wonder about Nvidia’s production capacities: could the manufacture of CMP cards vampirize the production lines of cards intended for gamers? The technological medium Anandtech gives a first answer to this question.
The same production lines?
Its journalists have analysed the information provided by Nvidia on her future cards intended for the mining of crypto-currencies. According to them, CMP cards probably don’t use the same cores as recent cards for gamers, but possibly older generation electronic circuits for graphics cards that are no longer produced today. Nvidia could therefore base its CMP range on stocks of old unsold chips or use old production lines that have not yet been reconverted for the manufacture of other electronic products.
According to a Nvidia spokesman, the production of CMP cards could play on another trick: drawing on partially defective circuits, whose graphic part, not used for mining, is damaged. « The production of graphics cards is so delicate that this type of waste is not uncommon. So these defective cards will no longer be thrown in the trash. »
So there’s hope that CMP cards, aimed at cryptology miners, will really take the pressure off the availability of GTX graphics cards for gamers. If that wasn’t enough, Nvidia might be tempted to restrict other future models of graphics cards.
An action that might be necessary, because the availability problems are not only due to the activity of the cryptomoney miners, which is difficult to estimate. Other factors play a role, such as the good performance of the new GTX range, the high level of gamer activity during the pandemic, or the current tensions on chip production.
According to Nvidia’s spokesperson, « Everything is going very fast in the cryptomoney industry. Bitcoin producers no longer use graphic cards: the calculations to undermine this currency have become too complex. They use other types of chips that are more cost-effective. In six months time, we don’t know if the producers of Etherum currency, the most demanding producers of graphics cards today, will not have moved on. « Under these circumstances, we may not need to go into widespread bridging.