Nvidia said it is launching a GPU dedicated to mining cryptocurrencies in a move that gives it a new growth market and may alleviate chip shortages for gaming.
In a blog post, Nvidia said that is launching Nvidia CMP, or cryptocurrency mining processor. Nvidia CMP is designed for professional mining.
Before the launch of its own cryptocurrency chip, Nvidia has been wrestling with shortages of its gaming chips, which were being used to mine cryptocurrency. With its GeForce RTX 3060 gaming processor launching February 25, Nvidia said it was "taking an important step to help ensure GeForce GPUs end up in the hands of gamers."
In addition to the Nvidia CMP launch, Nvidia is programming the RTX 3060 software drivers to detect cryptocurrency mining algorithms and limiting efficiency, or hash rate, by about 50%. The move is designed to deter miners from buying Nvidia's gaming GPUs for cryptocurrency.
GeForce RTX GPUs will be optimized for real-time ray-tracing, image upscaling and fast rendering. Nvidia CMP processors won't do graphics but will be optimized for cryptocurrency mining and efficiency.
Nvidia's CMP processors will be available in the first quarter and second quarter through partners such as ASUS, Colorful, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI, Palit, and PC Partner.
Here are the specs.
For Nvidia, the CMP lands ahead of the company's fourth quarter earnings report Feb. 24. In the third quarter, Nvidia saw some turbulence in its data center business. The company is in the process of trying to acquire chip IP vendor ARM for $40 billion.
Oppenheimer analyst Rick Shafer said in a research note that Nvidia will see continued gaming processor strength, but demand was likely to lead to shortages well into 2021. Shafer said:
We see supply tightness lingering at least into 2Q. Management sees low crypto exposure risk based on CMP (crypto mining processor) demand. CMP strips out video/ graphics components, leaving only compute.
Wall Street is expecting Nvidia to report fourth quarter sales of $4.82 billion with non-GAAP earnings of $2.80 a share.