Sunday, December 26th 2010

AMD Radeon HD 6950 Can be Unlocked to HD 6970

Looks like Santa brought an extra present for us hardware enthusiasts this year. Thanks to a less secure locking method AMD's new Radeon HD 6950 can be unlocked to a full blown HD 6970 with a few mouse clicks.

As detailed in our article, you can safely perform the flashing process from within Windows. In case something goes wrong it is easier than ever to recover the card thanks to AMD's new Dual-BIOS feature.

We tested the unlock on three HD 6950 cards: one AMD engineering sample, one HIS media sample and one ASUS retail card. All of them unlocked perfectly and run at HD 6970 speeds now. More success reports are compiled into a table at the end of the modding article.
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302 Comments on AMD Radeon HD 6950 Can be Unlocked to HD 6970

#1
HXL492
Imagine online retailers taking advantage of this and go "get your 6950's today and unlock them to 6970's!!":roll:

Then imagine AMD's reaction "WTF?!!?!" :wtf::eek::confused::mad::twitch::cry::banghead:
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#2
crazyeyesreaper
Chief Broken Rig
amd wont care and heres why 6970 xfire = gtx 580 sli

6950 is $300 vs 6970 at $370 save $140 for the same performance after you bios flash with a 2nd bios in case you screw up

it steals Nvidias gtx 500 series thunder as you can basically get $750 6970 xfire performance if you wish for $600 or gtx 580 sli performance at nearly $300 cheaper

and in single card terms you get $370 performance for $300 making the GTX 570 out of place

9/10 later batches of the gpus will be properly locked my guess is this only works on the initial batches so get them while you can
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#3
my_name_is_earl
Thank you for posting this. I immediately purchase an hd6950. I've wanted the 6970 for some time but it's pricey. This is hawt news.
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#4
Over_Lord
News Editor
So where are we now??? A 290$ card (HD6950) which performs at par with a GTX570 (350$) card because it can be unlocked risk-free to a 370$ card(HD6970)


Well, guess AMD launched this card to say.. "Merry Christmas"
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#5
wolf
Performance Enthusiast
by: thunderising
So where are we now??? A 290$ card (HD6950) which performs at par with a GTX570 (350$) card because it can be unlocked risk-free to a 370$ card(HD6970)


Well, guess AMD launched this card to say.. "Merry Christmas"
its more like the 6970 that performs on par (or as good as) with a GTX570, and the 6950 is pitted against the GTX470, taken from AMD themselves. these are literally the cards they were released to compete against, and they do.

and I doubt AMD purposely made the 6950 unlockable, and just waited for us to find out as an added bonus. how would that help them sell their more expensive 6970 model (for more profit, the aim of any company)

don't get me wrong this is fantastic for the enthusiast community, just look at it the right way. also take into consideration 95+% of GTX570's can overclock to GTX580 performance if not beyond, something the 6970's even have trouble doing.

this makes the choice of enthusiast card even the more intruiging for me, as I'm in the budget of 200-300 Euro's and a card in the next two months. right now its looking to be GTX570, 6950 or GTX560, depending on reviews rounding up all 3 when the 560 lands.
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#6
Frosty
by: wolf
its more like the 6970 that performs on par (or as good as) with a GTX570, and the 6950 is pitted against the GTX470, taken from AMD themselves. these are literally the cards they were released to compete against, and they do.

and I doubt AMD purposely made the 6950 unlockable, and just waited for us to find out as an added bonus. how would that help them sell their more expensive 6970 model (for more profit, the aim of any company)

don't get me wrong this is fantastic for the enthusiast community, just look at it the right way. also take into consideration 95+% of GTX570's can overclock to GTX580 performance if not beyond, something the 6970's even have trouble doing.

this makes the choice of enthusiast card even the more intruiging for me, as I'm in the budget of 200-300 Euro's and a card in the next two months. right now its looking to be GTX570, 6950 or GTX560, depending on reviews rounding up all 3 when the 560 lands.
I was under the impression that the 6950/70s still have software locked voltage. If that is the case, in theory, with voltage support the 6970 should be able to reach much higher clocks than we have seen thus far.


Oh, and hey everyone! This is my first post on TPU. I'm actually an avid OCN user but figured I should join TPU and share the enjoyment of this news on the 6950. :)

I just placed an order for two 6950s because of this thread....let's hope they unlock. I'll post results when I get them. :toast:
Posted on Reply
#7
wolf
Performance Enthusiast
by: Frosty
I was under the impression that the 6950/70s still have software locked voltage. If that is the case, in theory, with voltage support the 6970 should be able to reach much higher clocks than we have seen thus far.


Oh, and hey everyone! This is my first post on TPU. I'm actually an avid OCN user but figured I should join TPU and share the enjoyment of this news on the 6950. :)

I just placed an order for two 6950s because of this thread....let's hope they unlock. I'll post results when I get them. :toast:
ahh thanks, something I overlooked, voltage support will bring yet more interestingness to the table with the 6900's. fantastic time to be interested by gfx cards IMO.

well welcome to TPU Frosty, I hope you stay with us many enjoyable years, TPU has so much to offer you. :toast:
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#8
Anusha
even then, in Japan, i can get a HD5870 for less than 20k yen, while the 6950 is way over 30k. (btw, 6970 is around 42k. that's almost $500 yikes!) funny how the GTX480 can be had for half the price of a GTX580 (just 26.5k yen!!!)

guess i should wait for a while for the prices to fall.
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#9
Frosty
by: wolf
ahh thanks, something I overlooked, voltage support will bring yet more interestingness to the table with the 6900's. fantastic time to be interested by gfx cards IMO.

well welcome to TPU Frosty, I hope you stay with us many enjoyable years, TPU has so much to offer you. :toast:
Thanks for the welcoming Wolf. :)


As for the 6900 series, I can't see the clocks getting too high (considering they're already high at stock) but hopefully added voltage will provide some extra headroom and maybe we'll see some 1 GHz+ core clocks out of these cards.
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#10
crazyeyesreaper
Chief Broken Rig
true wolf but dual cards 6970s = 580s and on an AMD cpu 6970 is faster then a 580

red machine on the forums here has the same system as me but has a 580 gtx my 6970 is faster in all benchs we compared head to head

on Intel its a different story but still dual card 6900 = dual 580s thats just fact in most cases or when 580win its not enough to actually pay $300 for ;) if you get my meaning total price to performance
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#11
Frosty
by: crazyeyesreaper
true wolf but dual cards 6970s = 580s and on an AMD cpu 6970 is faster then a 580

red machine on the forums here has the same system as me but has a 580 gtx my 6970 is faster in all benchs we compared head to head

on Intel its a different story but still dual card 6900 = dual 580s thats just fact in most cases or when 580win its not enough to actually pay $300 for ;) if you get my meaning total price to performance
I don't mean to intervene but the 6970 will usually pull ahead in high resolution situations. Otherwise, the GTX 580 almost always performs better when it comes to lower resolutions.

What res were you benching at?
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#12
1nf3rn0x
Well, I guess this is similar to Nvidia. As some of there GTX 465 models can unlock to a GTX 470. It's amazing how these huge companies who spend hundred of millions of dollars to produce this technology can't even see a design flaw, while us, ordinary pc people notice it and make the most of it.

Thanks Nvidia and AMD,
Sincerely us from TPU. :D
Posted on Reply
#13
crazyeyesreaper
Chief Broken Rig
1680x1050 my 6970 stock beats his 580 stock on the same CPU and RAM at the same speeds

dual card wise 6970s = 580
6950s = 570 sli or 480 sli

single card wise 6950 is slower then a 570 while a 6970 is slightly faster but far slower then a 580

when it comes to an Intel system
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#14
Frosty
by: crazyeyesreaper
1680x1050 my 6970 stock beats his 580 stock on the same CPU and RAM at the same speeds

dual card wise 6970s = 580
6950s = 570 sli or 480 sli

single card wise 6950 is slower then a 570 while a 6970 is slightly faster but far slower then a 580

when it comes to an Intel system
Yeah, my Phenom II x4 955 @ 3.8 GHz bottlenecked my 5850 crossfire and 470 SLI quite a bit. Benching at 1680x1050 most likely leaves a hefty load on the CPU, so those high-end GPUs may not be stretching their legs.

As you said, I guess that's why the 580 is faster on Intel based systems.
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#15
boogerlad
Is there any chance of unlocking a 6850 --> 6870? Any guinea pigs XD
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#16
15th Warlock
This is excellent news indeed, AMD bringing so much performance at such a low price, with or without their consent, this opens the possibility of lower prices for nVidia's high end cards, as, at such price to performance ratio, the HD6950 truly is on a class of its own, and nothing available currently from the green team comes even close to its value.

As I said, excellent news for everybody! :rockout:
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#17
hv43082
Any benchmarks for 6970 in Xfire at 2560x1600?
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#18
crazyeyesreaper
Chief Broken Rig
and an tech did in there review they compared 6900 xfire vs 580 sli etc etc
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#20
buggalugs
by: wolf

and I doubt AMD purposely made the 6950 unlockable, and just waited for us to find out as an added bonus. how would that help them sell their more expensive 6970 model (for more profit, the aim of any company)
Selling cards at a lower price is better than not selling cards at all. The general opinion of the 6950-6970 performance was a little underwhelming, Many reviews are saying the 570 is a better buy. People who were thinking about getting a 570 or 560 will be drawn back to an amd card.

The vast majority of gaming graphic card sales are in the 6950 price bracket so if they lose a few 6970 sales its not going to affect them too much. Not many people other than a small enthusiast community know about or want to flash their cards anyway but the positive buzz online means they will sell more amd cards.

AMD have a history with this kind of thing, look at the response in this thread and elsewhere, they're going to sell like hotcakes.

Anyway its just an opinion, but if its not the case their must be some engineer at AMD getting his ass kicked right now. lol
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#21
Tensa Zangetsu
W1zzard You are the man!!!!!:rockout:

Now to get a 6950:p
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#22
afw
So we can have 2 BIOSs ... one of 6950 and anthr of 6970 ... and can switch between the two ... ??? ... 6950 looks very tempting now ... hmmmm ....
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#23
Nirutbs
copied but didn't not give any credit:(
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#24
Wrigleyvillain
PTFO or GTFO
Wow this is sweet. Didn't think stuff like this happened anymore...

by: cyriene
I'm excited to try this out. Hopefully amazon ships these quickly. This will be my first crossfire setup as well. Now I have to decide which water blocks I want to use.
Instead of blocks you could buy another 24" display cause I dunno why you need 2x6950 (make that 6970 it would seem safe to say) with just one...

by: damric
Doht! I just bought a 6850, as it seemed like best bang for buck 6000 series. I wonder if it would unlock to 6870?
Yeah don't think so. But unless you are playing above 1920x1200 you are just fine and you are damn correct on best bang for buck. I got 2x6850 on the way for aforementioned res for $310 shipped AR and with the fantastic scaling even that's gonna be more power than I really need.

Hopefully they don't lock this out in the future cause 6950 definitely just got more attractive no matter what! Can't wait til they're closer to $200 now.
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#25
Ross211
by: Wrigleyvillain
Wow this is sweet. Didn't think stuff like this happened anymore...
Exactly what I was thinking. I thought ATI / Nvidia started preventing this by doing laser cuts on the card. I remember BIOS flashing my old mighty Sapphire 9800 Pro to 9800 XT - I was a lucky one and got the R360 core.

This article makes me think of this one I read... hey wait, it's here at TPU :D

Interview: Alex 'Unwinder' / RivaTuner
The hobby of soft-modding GPUs turned into an obsession. Alex and his friends had tackled several softmod projects over the years, and in January of 2003 he would make an unlikely friend because of it. At the time, ATI had been working on the 9500-9700 Radeon series and one of their product producing partners, afraid to sell the new 9500 Non-Pro model because it could be unlocked to the 9700 series, contacted Alex about the issue. “I immediately started investigating 9500 modding. So I guess it was a planned leak for them, aimed to boost sales of the 9500 Non-Pro.” Alex and his team announced that they were working on a closed beta for the modded 9500 drives, but it turns out that somebody beat them to it. “I was really mad, thinking that some of my testers ignored the NDA and leaked the script. So I contacted the author of the modded driver and as you can guess, W1z was that man.” W1zzard, who was living in Germany, had completed the mod all by himself, starting a strong professional relationship between the two software developers.

While the modding community has grown, according to Alex it peaked in 2004 with the release of GeForce 6800 series. Then, it was easy to unlock pixel and vertex pipelines with the NVStrap driver, but now ATI and NVIDIA are using advanced locking technologies making soft-mods nearly impossible in modern display adapters. Alex says, “Soft-mods mean lost money for both ATI and NVIDIA, and they are definitely not stupid and never make the same mistake twice.” This could lead to the eventual death of the soft-mod community but there is a bright side. “GPUs have a lot of undocumented areas, which vendors are trying to hide from end users. So we will always have something new to explore.” In the end however, Alex believes that soft-modding benefits both ATI and NVIDIA. “People like a free performance boost and whether ATI and NVIDIA like it or not, the mods help them to promote their products.”
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