GPU maker Nvidia has tweaked its software license agreement to limit the use of its products by data centers – unless they’re mining cryptocurrencies.
An update to the company’s license agreement emphasizes that the drivers which allow computers to work with the GeForce or Titan chips cannot be used in data centers unless they are being used for “blockchain processing” tasks.
“No Datacenter Deployment. The [software] is not licensed for datacenter deployment, except that blockchain processing in a datacenter is permitted.”
That phrase is a stand-in for the more commonly used term “mining”, or the energy-intensive process by which new transactions are added to a blockchain. Nvidia’s graphics card products – along with those from rival chip maker AMD – have been highly sought by miners in recent months, as previously reported.
The boost in demand has been significant for chip manufacturers, with Nvidia, in particular, posting $2.23 billion in revenue after the second quarter in 2017. That marked a 56% jump from the previous year, with the company seeing $280 million more in profits than was projected during that time period.
Without permission from the manufacturer, companies must use Nvidia’s more expensive enterprise-level products for other data center applications like running artificial intelligence tests. The price gap is significant – while a GeForce card is in the $700s range, the enterprise-level product, the Tesla V100, runs for just under $10,000.
According to The Register, a Nvidia spokesperson pointed out that the GeForce and Titan GPUs were designed for individual customers, not for large companies to use in a constantly-operating data center.