Nvidia takes steps to protect gaming business

Prior to the launch of the RTX 3060, Nvidia announces its new CMP

Jon Peddie
(Source:  Sevilay Demirci


Pull off the display connectors and call it a mining machine. That’s basically what Nvidia did with their Cryptocurrency Mining Processor (CMP) and it’s a very clever move.

Meanwhile, Nvidia is launching its GeForce RTX 3060 (on Feb. 25) for gaming. The company says it has taken an unusual step that will help make sure GeForce GPUs go to gamers.

The driver Nvidia is providing for the new gaming AIB will detect certain features and attributes of the Ethereum cryptocurrency mining algorithm. When it does, it will slow down the GPU, and memory clock to limit the AIB’s hash rate. That, speculates Nvidia, will drop the mining efficiency by as much as 50%. There is a secure handshake between the driver, the GPU, and the BIOS (firmware) that prevents the removal of the hash rate limiter.

However, sympathetic and kind-hearted Nvidia doesn’t want all those money-grubbing miners to go to AMD so Nvidia has introduced a special mining AIB—the Cryptocurrency Mining Processor (CMP).

CMP will not perform graphics functions and will only be sold through authorized partners. Nvidia says it has optimized them for mining performance and efficiency. And even though they will use an Nvidia GPU, they won’t have any impact on the availability of GeForce AIBs for gamers. How can they do that with such short supply? As with any complex multi-billion transistor device, there will be failures in the manufacturing process. It can’t be avoided and experienced semiconductor suppliers like AMD, Intel, and Nvidia factor in a certain loss of the wafer. Those parts are sorted (binned) out and put aside. Some of them can be used for testing and driver development, others could be used for…  mining. The current Ethereum mining algorithm gets its boost from GPUs through the memory interface—GPUs have extraordinarily high memory bandwidth and efficient block transfers. So most of the GPU, all the video output and ROPs, and most of the shaders are just sucking up power when the GPU is used for mining. Nvidia figured out how to effectively bin for parts with high memory bandwidth while other parts didn’t meet the stringent specifications for an RTX chip.

In addition, says Nvidia, removing the display outputs from the CMP board increases airflow, allowing CMP mining AIBs to be packed more densely. In addition, CMPs have a lower peak core voltage and frequency, and that improves mining power efficiency.

Nvidia's CMP processors will be available in March and the second quarter through partners such as ASUS, Colorful, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI, Palit, and PC Partner. No pricing yet.

  30HX 40HX 50HX 90HX
Ethereum hash rate 26 MH/s 36 MH/s 45 MH/s 86 MH/s
Rated power 125 W 185 W 250 W 320 W
Power connections 1×8-pin 1×8-pin 2×8-pin 2×8-pin
Memory size 6GB 8GB 10GB 10GB
Starting availability  Q2 Q2 Q2 Q2
Nvidia’s CMP crypto-mining AIB hash rate performance. (Source: Nvidia)


When compared to consumer RTX AIBs, the Hash Rate values don’t look that impressive. A RTX 3090 can hit 120 MH/s, and even the RTX 2080Ti can reach 49 MH/s, so it is hard to see who will be attracted to the CMPs. But it’s a misleading spec. What should be specified is memory size and bandwidth. However, Nvidia says The comparison is misleading. The CMP hash rates from the webpage are based on official CMP specs. The hash rate numbers reported by various websites for GeForce GPUs tend to be overclocked, or otherwise optimized.

We have to assume Nvidia will price these new AIBs appropriately so miners (and scalpers) won’t siphon off RTX gaming AIBs. It will probably take a quarter to see the results, but the miners are keen and watch every move AMD and Nvidia make. Word of the CMP will run like wildfire though the miner’s channels.

We expect AMD, and ultimately Intel, to make similar moves. So now I have to add another category to the GPU taxonomy—Miner GPU—mGPU. (See: The Many roles and names of the GPU.)

The many names of a GPU


We will be testing the new RTX 3060 and report on the results in a week.