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Nvidia makes its cards less useful for cryptocurrency mining


Nvidia
Nvidia, which did not admit or deny the SEC's findings, agreed to pay the civil penalty. Photo: Reuters.

(ATF) US semiconductor manufacturer Nvidia said on Tuesday it was deliberately making some of its products less useful to cryptocurrency miners.

The company said it would limit the capabilities of its most popular video gaming cards to make them less adept at performing the calculations needed to validate transactions on the ethereum network.

The practice involves solving a complex problem in return for fractions of a token – something that has become increasingly attractive as prices of ether, the tokens used on the network, have soared.

Its GeForce products – sophisticated graphics processing units (GPUs) – are primarily made for video-gamers.

“Because Nvidia GPUs are programmable, users regularly discover new applications for them, from weather simulation and gene sequencing to deep learning and robotics,” Matt Wuebbling, a vice-president of marketing at Nvidia, said. “Mining cryptocurrency is one of them.”

SIMULTANEOUS PROCESSING

He said the GPUs were first designed to handle the demands of rendering video images in real time, a challenge given the amount of data that needs to be processed simultaneously. 

“Nvidia introduced a range of cutting-edge technologies – real-time ray tracing, AI-powered frame rate booster, super-fast response rendering and many more – created to meet the needs of gamers and those who create digital experiences,” he said.

But many video gamers – who have long made up Nvidia’s core customer base – have been unable to buy the newest graphics cards because they’re being snapped up by crypto miners.

“To help get GeForce GPUs in the hands of gamers, we announced in February that all GeForce RTX 3060 graphics cards shipped with a reduced ethereum hash rate,” Wuebbling said.

The lower hash rate – the measuring unit of the processing power for cryptocurrency mathematical operations – will not affect game play.

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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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