It’s not as bad as you may assume.
The LHR (low hashrate) variants of Nvidia’s RTX 30 series graphics cards have now been completely unlocked by mining software called Nicehash, restoring each card’s specific mining capabilities almost a year after their initial release.
Many of the best graphics cards have been nearly impossible to come by in the last two years due to a global chip shortage, a broader supply chain crisis at ports around the world, and increased demand for consumer electronics, which has put even more strain on the availability of semiconductors required by AMD and Nvidia.
Cryptominers were also a part of this demand, purchasing up the available stock of popular GPUs in bulk during the recent crypto currency boom. While there are differing perspectives on how this affected overall availability for gamers and hobbyists, there was clearly no love lost between the two groups, resulting in Team Green taking steps to make its consumer graphics cards less desirable to those looking to mine cryptocurrencies like Ethereum.
Almost the whole RTX 3000-series of cards was re-released with hash rate limiters (with the exception of the GeForce RTX 3090, which was deemed too expensive to attract the mining market), limiting their capacity to mine currencies like ETH, but several of them were still available.
NiceHash has now claimed that it may use 100 percent of potential mining speeds with these previously restricted Ampere-series GPUs, as reported by WCCFTech, noting on its website that:
“We’re thrilled to announce that NiceHash QuickMiner (Excavator) is the first mining software to UNLOCK LHR cards completely (100%)! With NiceHash QuickMiner, you may now earn more money than any other mining software on the market if you use LHR graphics cards “,
We don’t have access to an LHR model GPU to verify this claim, so take it with a grain of salt. It’s also worth mentioning that GPU stock levels and pricing are now at the greatest levels we’ve seen in months, so you won’t be up against swarms of competitors if cards become feasible for mining again.
Analysis: Don’t be concerned – no, truly
For a variety of reasons, this announcement is unlikely to produce another scarcity of graphics cards or even raise the price of the stock that is currently available. The biggest piece of good news for gamers is that Ethereum, the second most popular cryptocurrency behind Bitcoin, will switch to proof-of-stake towards the end of 2021.
Allow me to explain. Proof-of-work is a mechanism in which computers compete to be the first to solve complex puzzles, which allowed miners to tackle those puzzles with warehouses full of consumer graphics cards, earning ETH in the process. Instead, Proof-of-Stake allows validators to discover a block based on the number of tokens they own, eliminating the need to solve those ‘puzzles.’
Because the conversion from a proof-of-work to a proof-of-stake model has reduced the demand for graphics cards, Ethereum, which was previously the largest cryptocurrency largely mined with graphics cards (Bitcoin has mostly been mined on ASICs during the last few years), is now inefficient.
There are other currencies that still employ the Proof-of-Work mechanism, but they don’t have the same market clout as ETH did last year, so it’ll be some time before we see something similar happen.
In actuality, this should have no bearing on consumers looking to purchase a new graphics card, albeit it does mean that LHR variants of GPUs are no longer useful. Hopefully, Nvidia continues to develop its hashrate restriction mechanism in case a similar scenario occurs when their Lovelace series of graphics cards is released as a deterrent.