ZOTAC GeForce RTX 3060 showed off by crypto miner on YouTube; hash rate limitations may be linked to the BIOS, not just to software drivers
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ZOTAC may have deleted its tweet supporting crypto miners, but an appearance of one of its RTX 3060 cards essentially confirms that the company has been selling them ahead of NVIDIA's embargo to miners. NVIDIA is due to release the RTX 3060 on February 25, before which board partners should not be selling their custom cards. Nonetheless, a new video by CryptoLeo shows the YouTuber with a ZOTAC GeForce RTX 3060 Twin Edge OC Edition. Evidently, ZOTAC would happily sell RTX 30 series cards to crypto miners, rather than gamers.
The video focuses on, unsurprisingly, the hash rate of Ethereum mining with the RTX 3060. During the video, the card's hash rate dropped by about a third a few minutes after he began mining. Specifically, the rate slumped from 41.5 MH/s to about 25 MH/s, which is short of NVIDIA's proclaimed 50% hash rate reduction.
However, CryptoLeo has no drivers for his card, which suggests that the card is detecting that is mining without using special drivers to do so. Hence, it would seem that NVIDIA has included an anti-mining algorithm somewhere else, possibly within the BIOS. If the algorithm were merely software-based, then it should be bypassable by not installing any drivers.
Ultimately, NVIDIA deciding what people should be able to do with their graphics cards does not sit well with us. Even NVIDIA suggests this by implicitly approving the use of its graphics cards in 'weather simulation and gene sequencing to deep learning and robotics'.
However, it is shoddy practice of ZOTAC to being selling GeForce RTX 3060 cards to crypto miners before NVIDIA's embargo, artificially increasing the card's price before it reaches retail. Currently, ZOTAC has unveiled two RTX 3060 cards; both have clearly already reached crypto miners.