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Graphics Card Maker Nvidia Favors Blockchain




A change to Nvidia’s terms of service will make data centers fork over big bucks for higher end cards, but cryptocurrencies miners are off the hook.

On January 7, 2018 it was reported that Nvidia, popular maker of graphics cards often used to mine cryptocurrencies such as Ether and bitcoin, altered its terms of service to bar the use of Titan and GeForce graphics cards software in data centers and large-scale commercial or research environments.

Miners of Ether need not fret; the company included an exception to allow use of the cards for blockchain applications, including mining cryptocurrencies. So while miners won't be feeling any of the heat from this change in terms of service, those now prohibited from using the GeForce and Titan cards are forced to turn to Nvidia's much more expensive proprietary modules like the Tesla V100, which can go for upwards of $10,000.

Specifically, the new terms of service read, "No Datacenter Deployment. The SOFTWARE is not licensed for datacenter deployment, except that blockchain processing in a datacenter is permitted."

Admittedly, projects that don't need the power of more expensive processors and yet fall under the prohibited settings might be in for a problem. While a spokesperson maintained that a great deal of academic projects are too small to meet Nvidia's definition of a data center, they also related that Nvidia will try to "work with" users breaking the license agreement, although how it plans plan to do so remains unclear.

The move to make an exception for mining is no major shock as the popularity of mining cryptocurrencies, in particular, Ether, has resulted in high demand for Nvidia's cards. The rise of cryptocurrency, and other technological innovations such as development of autonomous automobiles as well as a push towards artificial intelligence, have begun to shape a diversification effort within Nvidia.

It remains to be seen how Nvidia will enforce the revised terms of service for their card, and what the consequences will be for those who choose to breach the Nvidia license agreement.

Jeremy Nation

Jeremy Nation is a writer living in Los Angeles with interests in technology, human rights, and cuisine.

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