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Nvidia’s GTX 1060 GPU is coming out of retirement to mine cryptocurrency

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The venerable Nvidia GTX 1060 seems like a return to the GPU’s crypto-coal factory. Palit is today registering a slew of new P106 cards with the Eurasian Economics Commission. The original Nvidia P106 cards were introduced at the height of the mining boom in 2017.

They were designed solely to break down Etherium using the same Pascal-based GPU that powers the hugely popular GTX 1060 – the GP106 GPU.

(Photo credit: future)

It looks like Palit tracked the GP106 all the way to the farm where the aged mercenary disappeared in the haze of 2018, only to bring him back out of retirement for one last big job. I can see a grizzled, cigar-chewing GPU being dropped into a mining rig and growling, “I’m getting too old for this shit …”

The original Palit P106 cards had slightly different product codes, with these newly registered versions having a similar designation to the GTX 16 series cards. While I doubt these will be updated to use the TU116 GPU, we’d see the P116 list instead.

During the last major cryptocurrency mining madness, both AMD and Nvidia responded to the then unprecedented demand by massively increasing their GPU manufacturing, even though used cards flooded the market when the bottom fell out of the market. That meant no one wanted to buy new cards, leaving both the Green and Red teams – and their graphics card partners – with a huge amount of excess inventory in warehouses around the world.

This was one of the main reasons why Nvidia’s Turing generation took so long to release, and why you can still buy AMD RX 570 graphics cards today.

But the P106 GPUs were practically dumb GTX 1060 cards with disabled outputs because they weren’t designed to be connected to displays. That made them useless to anything but mining and gave them no resale value without crypto as a going concern.

Nvidia has announced that it will be launching special CMP cards specifically for GPU mining in order to relieve the GeForce market. These GPUs are a mix of an amp chip on the high end and a line of older Turing silicon making up the bulk of the Nvidia CMP lineup.

The P106 GPUs aren’t bad Etherium mining cards when you put them together, after all. The lowest TMP-CMP card from Nvidia has a hashrate of 26 MHz / s, while the P106 holds its own with a listed hashrate of around 24 MHz / s.

So it is possible that Palit was encouraged to wipe a warehouse of unsold P106 cards and try to capitalize on the shortage with a range of cheap GPUs.

It should be noted, however, that EWG listings, especially those from Palit, have the potential to be more speculative than specific about cards that actually hit shelves. The EEC document lists 12 different product codes while, to my knowledge, the company only released a single P106 card at the time.

While it’s a strong potential clue that Palit is pulling a P106 card out of retirement, and the fact that the P106 is even mentioned makes me believe a re-release is imminent, it’s by no means a dead certificate.

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Robert Dunfee