News Nvidia Reportedly Revamps Ampere Silicon To Stop Ethereum Mining For Good

Phaaze88

Polypheme
Ambassador
Uhh, this seems like a dumb idea. I mean, just Ethereum? Another digital currency could easily take it's place once it goes POS.

Implementing barriers on the hardware level is a step in the right direction though.

Hell if I know anything... just wait and see what happens.
 
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Oct 7, 2020
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amazing! how times change from no computer to dial up modem to now with these pirates and scammers called resellers.
 

AtrociKitty

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Apr 23, 2020
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I can't see this happening without backlash. Even gamers are justifying the high cost of current graphics cards with the ability to recoup some of their investment through mining. Limiting what people can do with hardware they paid for is never a winning solution, and might not earn Nvidia the goodwill they're hoping for.

since it doesn't have the data to pick up the new PCI Device ID
I imagine it won't be so simple to bypass, but I wonder how Nvidia is implementing that restriction. I've modified Intel drivers to work with unsupported IDs before, and it wasn't overly complicated (it did get me banned from their forums though). The hardware will have to appear different enough that it won't function with existing drivers at all.
 

JarredWaltonGPU

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Feb 21, 2020
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I told you guys this was coming. I knew NVIDIA was going to nerf the beta driver with a hardware update.

I've been 100% so far.

Phaaze, it's only a simple tweek to adjust for other mining algs.
No, it's not "simple" because we don't even know what Nvidia is detecting -- probably looking for the Ethereum DAG in memory or something. But regardless, Nvidia has to order new wafers with the hardware fix in place. Best-case, that's 4-5 months from the time something gets 'cracked' or 'unlocked' or whatever. Meaning, it's no deterent for at least the next four months. And if there's a new algorithm that comes out -- or an existing algorithm gets adjusted to defeat the anti-mining lock -- Nvidia has to repeat the whole process.

I'm also curious as to what happens if you hack the hardware ID or edit the driver files to list the new ID -- maybe that won't work, but certainly people have run "unreleased" hardware on hacked drivers in the past. If you don't want people to mine, this is at least a baby step in the right direction, but I suspect it's more of a deterent to gamers mining in their spare time than it is to big mining farms finding workarounds. Not to mention, RTX 3060 isn't even that great for Ethereum mining. 48MH/s is half the 3080, and you use twice as many PCIe slots. It's easy to reach the point where paying a bit more for a single card that does the same performance is the better solution.
 
No, it's not "simple" because we don't even know what Nvidia is detecting -- probably looking for the Ethereum DAG in memory or something. But regardless, Nvidia has to order new wafers with the hardware fix in place. Best-case, that's 4-5 months from the time something gets 'cracked' or 'unlocked' or whatever. Meaning, it's no deterent for at least the next four months. And if there's a new algorithm that comes out -- or an existing algorithm gets adjusted to defeat the anti-mining lock -- Nvidia has to repeat the whole process.

I'm also curious as to what happens if you hack the hardware ID or edit the driver files to list the new ID -- maybe that won't work, but certainly people have run "unreleased" hardware on hacked drivers in the past. If you don't want people to mine, this is at least a baby step in the right direction, but I suspect it's more of a deterent to gamers mining in their spare time than it is to big mining farms finding workarounds. Not to mention, RTX 3060 isn't even that great for Ethereum mining. 48MH/s is half the 3080, and you use twice as many PCIe slots. It's easy to reach the point where paying a bit more for a single card that does the same performance is the better solution.
Respectfully,

The hardware tweeks are actually minimal. Hacking the driver is harder than you think, and if you hack the driver, the performance is already going to be nerfed, because the digital signature won't be valid.

The 3060 is a testing ground. There's enough demand on the market right now NVIDIA could sell every 3000 series and 2000 HX Mining solution they put out there. It will uber inflait NVIDIA's market share while protecting/maximizing profits. And that will keep investors happy. As the article alluded, more cards will feature this tech soon if it pans out.
 

spongiemaster

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Dec 12, 2019
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I can't see this happening without backlash. Even gamers are justifying the high cost of current graphics cards with the ability to recoup some of their investment through mining. Limiting what people can do with hardware they paid for is never a winning solution, and might not earn Nvidia the goodwill they're hoping for.
The reason cards are selling for so much on auction sites is because people are figuring in the ability to recoup costs from mining into the initial purchase price. With significantly handicapped mining performance, people aren't going to be willing to pay as much, and prices should drop. At least, that's the idea. If the mining lock keeps getting broken every other month, it won't have any impact at all.
 

spongiemaster

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Not to mention, RTX 3060 isn't even that great for Ethereum mining. 48MH/s is half the 3080, and you use twice as many PCIe slots. It's easy to reach the point where paying a bit more for a single card that does the same performance is the better solution.
You can bet this isn't going to be limited to the 3060. With the news that dies that were originally destined for the mythical 3080Ti are being repurposed for 3090's, it really looks like Nvidia scrapped the plans for the original 3080Ti's and could be preparing a GA102 revision with this new lock.
 

Chung Leong

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No, it's not "simple" because we don't even know what Nvidia is detecting -- probably looking for the Ethereum DAG in memory or something. But regardless, Nvidia has to order new wafers with the hardware fix in place. Best-case, that's 4-5 months from the time something gets 'cracked' or 'unlocked' or whatever. Meaning, it's no deterent for at least the next four months. And if there's a new algorithm that comes out -- or an existing algorithm gets adjusted to defeat the anti-mining lock -- Nvidia has to repeat the whole process.
The Ethereum algorithm performs a lot of memory reads at random addresses. I reckon that's what Nvidia is targeting. No legitimate workload would have a cache-hit rate of near zero. As it's a fundamental aspect of Ethereum, there's no way miners can work away that--provided there's no backdoor that disables the limiter.
 

Phaaze88

Polypheme
Ambassador
They're testing the waters, perhaps? See how they can maximize profits on both 'fronts': mining, and... err, non-mining(?).
It's all about the money...
They're already contracted to sell their chips at a certain price, and they see their partners selling their cards for huge markups, as well as scalpers doing the same.
Nvidia isn't seeing any of that extra cash - they want some of that too.

I want to believe they also don't want to see a crap ton of their cards hit the 2nd hand market for cheap like before, because it eats into sales of the new/next gen models.
It probably won't happen this time around, because if a crash does happen, it won't be hard enough...
 

JarredWaltonGPU

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Feb 21, 2020
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Respectfully,

The hardware tweeks are actually minimal. Hacking the driver is harder than you think, and if you hack the driver, the performance is already going to be nerfed, because the digital signature won't be valid.

The 3060 is a testing ground. There's enough demand on the market right now NVIDIA could sell every 3000 series and 2000 HX Mining solution they put out there. It will uber inflait NVIDIA's market share while protecting/maximizing profits. And that will keep investors happy. As the article alluded, more cards will feature this tech soon if it pans out.
It doesn't matter if the tweaks are simple or complex. The problem is that if the tweaks have to be done in silicon, it would take months to get the updated wafers. Every existing RTX 3060 right now can be run with the 470.05 drivers and full mining performance, so there's no fixing that.

If the fix can be done with a mod to the firmware, or some other card-level update, it makes it less difficult. But mods like that are much easier to circumvent. For example, a BIOS update would only work if there's absolutely no way to flash an existing BIOS onto the new cards -- meaning, just firmware updates isn't enough.

And for stopping future algorithms, again, you'd have to update the firmware or the silicon. The former is easy to work around (just flash an older unlocked VBIOS that's compatible), while the latter takes 4-5 months to update the die revision, manufacture new wafers, and get the final chips to market.

I'm not saying Nvidia can't do it, but it's not something that happens super fast. Lead times for silicon tweaks right now are brutal as well, due to the shortages, so this will be more for future releases than existing GPUs is my take.
 

JarredWaltonGPU

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The Ethereum algorithm performs a lot of memory reads at random addresses. I reckon that's what Nvidia is targeting. No legitimate workload would have a cache-hit rate of near zero. As it's a fundamental aspect of Ethereum, there's no way miners can work away that--provided there's no backdoor that disables the limiter.
But whatever the 'block' on the 3060 was didn't work on non-Ethereum algorithms. Octopus is supposed to be memory-hard as well, random read/write accesses. But it performed as expected, so the detection was more fine-grained than just "if lots of random reads with zero cache hits, go slow."
 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator
I'm not saying Nvidia can't do it, but it's not something that happens super fast.
Especially when you consider that Nvidia has somewhat of a vested interest in not aggressively pushing the update unless the re-spin is a collab with Samsung that significantly improves yields. Otherwise, the new masks may not go into chip production until several weeks later with the next maintenance window to reduce tooling costs.
 
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It doesn't matter if the tweaks are simple or complex. The problem is that if the tweaks have to be done in silicon, it would take months to get the updated wafers.
This I will agree with.

Every existing RTX 3060 right now can be run with the 470.05 drivers and full mining performance, so there's no fixing that.
Actually there is. But if they use the option I think they could use, then it would be a nuclear option and piss off a lot of people if they bought the card for mining purposes. It would render them permanently useless.

If the fix can be done with a mod to the firmware, or some other card-level update, it makes it less difficult. But mods like that are much easier to circumvent. For example, a BIOS update would only work if there's absolutely no way to flash an existing BIOS onto the new cards -- meaning, just firmware updates isn't enough.
There's very precise protocols that make flashing these sections VERY difficult by unauthorized code. If it were that easy, then every piece malware would target UEFI BIOS. (Some do. But it is hard AF) I could make further comments about how hard it is, but then I would be giving the miners an upper hand. And that ain't my monkeys, and ain't my circus.

And for stopping future algorithms, again, you'd have to update the firmware or the silicon. The former is easy to work around (just flash an older unlocked VBIOS that's compatible), while the latter takes 4-5 months to update the die revision, manufacture new wafers, and get the final chips to market.
Again, no. It is a simple driver update. The Signatures for the mining algs will exist in the driver. And as the HLSL compiler is in the drivers, all program compilation for the mining alg has to pass through there. Thus it becomes a mining alg signature match like viruses. Mess with a digitally signed driver and the whole process falls apart. I had this debate with Invalid Error and went into greater detail.
 
Sep 23, 2020
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Why even care about it in the first place? If production was up to snuff, miners and gamers alike should be able to buy cards. I say the problem lies in bots and the website platforms that can be abused, not the hardware.
 
Sep 23, 2020
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The problem becomes like a snake eating it's own tail. Add more cards->complexity goes up->to combat, you add more cards...repeat
Well I don't think nerfing the product is the answer when you can't keep up with demand as it is. Like, use something like sonys direct que system or some such. Don't hurt the product because of those nasty little miners and hodlers.
 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator
Well I don't think nerfing the product is the answer when you can't keep up with demand as it is.
I doubt Nvidia is nerfing the product, the actual check is likely something super dumb that only works because we don't know what the specific thing it checks actually is. I cannot imagine any way in hell that Nvidia is devoting any meaningful amount of resources in hardware or software at doing some sort of forensic analysis to identify ETH algorithms in disguise or prevent tampering with the drivers beyond flagging itself as unverified for content protection purposes.

I wouldn't be surprised if Nvidia beat hackers at breaking their anti-ETH tweak again.
 

Phaaze88

Polypheme
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Don't hurt the product because of those nasty little miners and hodlers.
Ironic, because they look to be the ones hurting things the most.
There's people stuck on igpus, ancient gpus, or cpus with no igpu, that want to get a new one, but can't.

There's people who already have a card(s) trying to get more. What's the limit for them?
It's not the supply - well, it's slowing them down, but they'll ultimately get their hands on more, be it the EVGA queue, direct from manufacturing, or scalpers.
It's not the money. Some, if not all of a card's cost and then some, can be made back.
It's not accessibility. Everyone with a discreet gpu can do it, whether they take the easy route with something like nicehashminer or the harder route by looking up guides on how to optimize for a particular coin.
It's space - resources; how many rigs and cards on said rigs, can one set up in their homes/basements/storehouses/warehouses/etc.

Out of all the mini storms in this perfect storm, the gpu mining is the worst one. There's literally no limit in sight to demand for new cards right now because of how profitable it is. "More, more, moar..!"
If nothing is done about it, then we can expect this to be the norm for some time.
 
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InvalidError

Titan
Moderator
If nothing is done about it, then we can expect this to be the norm for some time.
It will be the norm until all the new 5-7nm fabs come online and churn out millions more chips per months. Then miners will snatch all of the 5nm stuff they can get their hands on for improved power efficiency while the rest of us get to have reasonably priced 7nm new-in-box oldies miners no longer want.
 

Phaaze88

Polypheme
Ambassador
It will be the norm until all the new 5-7nm fabs come online and churn out millions more chips per months. Then miners will snatch all of the 5nm stuff they can get their hands on for improved power efficiency while the rest of us get to have reasonably priced 7nm new-in-box oldies miners no longer want.
Yeah... I've never been a fan of sloppy seconds.
Wonder how long I'll be able to keep that up...
 

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