Limiting Crypto Mining "Not A Priority" For Intel

Published: October 12, 2021 9:49 AM /


An Intel chip against a background of circuitry

Intel has confirmed that its upcoming Arc graphics cards won't feature any kind of cryptocurrency mining limiter tech. The company says the GPUs aren't being built to specifically target miners, but they also won't prevent mining in any form.

Why won't the new Intel GPU feature crypto mining limiters?

This news comes to us via an interview conducted by tech platform Gadgets 360. The interview is with Intel's Roger Chandler, Raja Koduri, and Jeff McVeigh. During the interview, Gadgets 360 asks whether the Arc GPUs, which represent Intel's first forays into dedicated graphics tech, will have hardware or software lockouts to discourage or prevent cryptocurrency mining. Chandler answers the question in the negative; he says Intel is not "building any features at this point that specifically target miners". He goes on to say that the Arc GPUs are a product that will "be in the market and people will be able to buy it", so building crypto limiters into the cards is "not a priority" for Intel.

A ranger in the snow in Metro Exodus
Intel's new Arc GPUs will offer real-time ray tracing for games like Metro Exodus, but they won't have any kind of crypto mining limiter.

Cryptocurrency mining is currently mired in controversy for a number of reasons. It's not exactly an eco-friendly practice, with researchers at the UK's Cambridge University saying it consumes about 121 terawatt-hours per year, which is more than the entire country of the Netherlands uses. Cryptocurrency mining has also been partially blamed for ongoing difficulties in obtaining GPUs; the NME reports that in early 2021, around 700,000 graphics cards were purchased by cryptocurrency miners. Some games have even been accused of covertly installing crypto mining software on the machines of their players. It seems that Intel isn't particularly interested in where the money is coming from as long as it's coming.

Do other GPU manufacturers build crypto mining limiters into their cards?

In a word, yes, at least as far as Nvidia is concerned. The GPU giant's RTX 30 series, which is in high demand among cryptocurrency miners, has a built-in crypto mining limiter (thanks, PCMag) to discourage miners from purchasing the cards. In addition, Nvidia halved the hash rate of new units manufactured in its RTX 30 series earlier this year, with a view to getting the cards into the hands of gamers and not miners. Despite this, AMD says it hasn't built any kind of limiting tech into its Radeon cards. This is apparently because they've been built specifically for gaming, which means miners will run into "limitations from an architectural level" if they try to use Radeon cards for this purpose.

AMD's new Radeon 6000 line, which it says hasn't been designed with crypto mining limiters
Nvidia has a built-in crypto mining limiter on its RTX series, but AMD's Radeon 6000 cards don't have this tech.

There's some more fun information in the Gadgets 360 interview, including confirmation that Intel will allow third-party manufacturers to create custom versions of its Arc lineup. Hopefully, they'll do a better job than some manufacturers have with the RTX 30 series. However, since Intel is looking to position its new cards as competitors to Nvidia and AMD's high-end options, the fact that there's no crypto limiter built-in could mean serious shortages in both the short- and long-term. We'll have to wait and see how this situation develops.

Do you think Intel should build crypto mining limiter software or hardware into its Arc GPUs? Let us know in the comments below!

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