The demand for PCs continued at a staggering pace in Q1 2021, driven by the need for one suitable device per family member of the household, work from home demands, and the ever-increasing demand for PC gaming. Canalys Research said that for Q1 2021, the market saw staggering 55% growth. These outlandish year-over-year numbers were accentuated by a weak Q1 2020, but the demand is still there. At the same time, we are experiencing an insatiable demand for computing capabilities related to Ethereum mining. Unfortunately for gamers, the best mining silicon is also found in the best gaming platform, and graphics card supply remains incredibly tight. This is very frustrating for gamers, to say the least.
To help combat this, in February, NVIDIA created a specialty lineup of products dedicated to Ethereum mining, called the Cryptocurrency Mining Processor, or “CMP” for short. NVIDIA announced four CMP cards, the 30HX, 40HX, 50HX, and 90HX. I wrote about that here. NVIDIA also announced that starting with the GeForce RTX 3060, it would limit the Ethereum hash rate to 50% of its potential mining performance. While the 3060 results weren’t definitive or helped answer the question “is this helping?,” I can confidently say that it helped ship an extra gaming card for each CMP card shipped.
There is demand for CMP. Commenting on Q1 guidance, NVIDIA’s CFO Colette Kress recently said, “...we now expect CMP revenue to be approximately $150 million, higher than the $50 million included in our fiscal Q1 outlook. Upside to CMP is not displacing supply from our other platforms. It is incremental.“ This is NVIDIA’s CFO saying this, which I believe you can take to the bank.
NVIDIA announced today that it is doubling down on its commitment to ship gaming cards to gamers by taking the 50% hash rate-limiting to newly manufactured GeForce RTX 3080, 3070, and 3060 Ti graphics cards. Buyers will recognize the difference in packaging with a “Lite Hash Rate” or “LHR” sticker or logo on the package and at the point of sale. I believe 100% of the company’s channel partners will decide not to chew up profits fielding calls and emails from confused customers and make it clear which cards are “LHR.” NVIDIA also said the move would not impact cards already purchased or cards that are in the channel without the LHR designation.
Ultimately, I think this is a good move by NVIDIA for gamers. While there’s no data that definitively tells us hash rate limiting on GeForce RTX 3060 helped create more cards for gamers, I do believe the combination of strong CMP sales and broadening the LHR lineup will help. Is it an exact science? No, but at least NVIDIA is trying its best to get gaming cards into the hands of gamers.