Re: [AMBER] Troubling changes to NVIDIA Driver EULA

From: David Cerutti <>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2017 12:54:02 -0500

The exception for cryptocurrency mining and transactions is very
disappointing--if Pope Francis were to weigh in on the subject, I wonder if
he might invoke some of his previous rhetoric about the nature of greed and
the futility inherent in such temptations. Cryptocurrency mining destroys
the planet and rewards the wicked, often incentivizing the miners to
exploit the resources paid for by others. (For example, websites may run
apps to mine bitcoin while their users, probably brought in by click-bait,
watch videos or read tabloid infomercials--the miners get bitcoin and stick
the tab on their users' electricity bill.) Some 'datacenters' are
exclusively devoted to bitcoin farming (see: "Inside a Chinese Bitcoin
Farm" or similar articles you can search for.) In essence, bitcoin is a
devilish temptation that has the power to render any energy savings efforts
futile as miners all over the world turn global computing resources--and
the electrical grid which powers them--into one giant tragedy of the commons

Bitcoin's value has correlated closely with online ransom demands
to be paid in cryptocurrencies, even encouraging new malware attacks
by our adversaries to target bitcoin holders. There is also an obvious
risk of unnecessarily creating bubbles in these imaginary currencies that
lead to destabilization of government-backed currency markets or even
publicly traded stocks.

I have spoken out before on this forum in defense of NVIDIA, recognizing
that they cannot be faulted for tending their bottom line, which can
include staking out a market for their top grade products in
high-performance scientific computing. However, in cases where their
policy is clearly written to support activities with no social value and
great potential for harm, we should oppose such moves. Perhaps the members
of this community who have not attempted to exploit grant-funded data
centers for bitcoin mining and personal gain can join to petition NVIDIA to
alter their EULA. Another route we might go is to contact our senators and
seek legislation that requires any hardware authorized for blockchain
calculations also be authorized for general purpose computing applications.


On Tue, Dec 26, 2017 at 11:29 AM, Charles-Alexandre Mattelaer <> wrote:

> Dear Amber users and developers
> As only having started a PhD project last year, these concerns left me quit
> perplexed. I knew Nvidia/cuda was used in several software suites for
> speedup (to great extent for specific kinds of calculations), but their
> 'abuse' of their position on the market is really shocking.
> Since you asked us to address our 'complaints' to Nvidia, I was wondering:
> Is their a specific portal of Nvidia you recommend to direct our worries
> to? Should we just direct ourselves to local customer relationship agencies
> or is there a more centralized address we should use?
> I would also like to use this opportunity to thank you (and obviously all
> others involved) in trying to keep AMBER for affordable gpu's up and
> running. MD is a really interesting tool in understanding biochemical
> systems and not every lab has the means to purchase specific
> 'workstation/HPC-grade' gpu's.
> Kind regards
> Charles-Alexandre Mattelaer
> Op 26 dec. 2017 5:07 p.m. schreef "Ross Walker" <>:
> > Dear Fellow Amberites,
> >
> > Following on from the concerns I brought up several weeks ago about
> > deliberately restricting the supply of GeForce cards to companies that
> sell
> > computers to researchers I wanted to bring your attention to a recent
> more
> > troubling situation, that I have fought against behind the scenes for
> many
> > years, involving a change in the end user license agreement that NVIDIA
> has
> > made in the last few days to it's drivers for GeForce cards.
> >
> > <>
> >
> > Specifically section 2.1.3 which has the new line in bold (my emphasis)
> > below.
> >
> > -------------------
> > 2.1.3 Limitations.
> >
> > No Modification or Reverse Engineering. Customer may not modify (except
> as
> > provided in Section 2.1.2), reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble
> the
> > SOFTWARE, nor attempt in any other manner to obtain the source code.
> >
> > No Separation of Components. The SOFTWARE is licensed as a single
> product.
> > Its component parts may not be separated for use on more than one
> computer,
> > nor otherwise used separately from the other parts.
> >
> > No Sublicensing or Distribution. Customer may not sell, rent, sublicense,
> > distribute or transfer the SOFTWARE; or use the SOFTWARE for public
> > performance or broadcast; or provide commercial hosting services with the
> >
> > No Datacenter Deployment. The SOFTWARE is not licensed for datacenter
> > deployment, except that blockchain processing in a datacenter is
> permitted.
> > -------------------
> >
> > As I am sure many of you will agree this is deeply troubling and does not
> > bode well for the future of cost effective GPU computing. In particular,
> in
> > my opinion, it speaks volumes about NVIDIA's ultimate intentions. The
> > blockchain exception is particularly Trump like. To me, at least, this
> > implies that in NVIDIA's eyes bitcoin mining is acceptable but science is
> > not. The truth likely being that this is a case of NVIDIA trying to
> exploit
> > it's monopoly, which unfortunately a number of us CUDA developers
> > unwittingly and pro bono helped NVIDIA build. NVIDIA does not have a
> > monopoly in the cryptocurrency space, hence the exception.
> >
> > While I am not a lawyer at least for now the EULA appears to be poorly
> > written. It does not define Datacenter or what the term Deployment
> strictly
> > means. A fact that has been noticed on many forums (e.g.
> > <>). I for one
> > still refer to my clusters being installed in HPC machine rooms.
> > Nevertheless it does not bode well for the future and is likely an omen
> of
> > what is to come. I would urge each of you who has concerns to contact
> > NVIDIA and make them aware of these.
> >
> > In the meantime I, and others, are working with AMD to try and complete a
> > port of AMBER, and other scientific and deep learning software, to AMD
> GPUs
> > to at least try to restore some balance to the force. Anyone who has
> > in-depth experience with GPU programming who would like to help with this
> > effort please do not hesitate to contact me.
> >
> > All the best
> > Ross
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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> >
> >
> > <>
> >
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Received on Tue Dec 26 2017 - 10:00:02 PST
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