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
@crazyeyesreaper
I can see what you're thinking, but AMD just killed off the 6970 and I'm sure they won't be happy about this
Posted on Reply
#2
Dj-ElectriC
W1zzard you are the man... HD6950 is unlockable. this is nuts! :D:D:D
Posted on Reply
#3
HammerON
The Watchful Moderator
If I didnt't have 2 GTX 470's under water I would buy two 6950's in a heartbeat!!!
This is freak'n awesome:)
Posted on Reply
#4
alwayssts
by: the54thvoid
Is this not a bit shit? I mean as in shipping units that are 'software' crippled and can be 'fixed'? It's great for the guys with 6950's but it surely must leave a sour taste in the mouth for 6970 owners who paid what, 50-80 quid more? I guess hardware fusing is more expensive so BIOS mod.......

HOLD THE BOAT....

Is this what the delay was all about? CD at S/A had an article about 6970 stocks being higher than expected and 6950 stocks being very low. Was the delay caused by the last minute BIOS fiddlings to make more 6950's out of the 6970 cards?

Plausible?
There were always two ways to look at that (if it was true). One just became less pessimistic, and more realistic.

1. Cayman yields were great, and most dies qualified to have all shaders enabled.
2. Cayman yields were terrible, and units were disabled on both parts. 6950 BECAME 6970 (Or at least shader specs drifted downward; perhaps revisioned more than once) allowing greater allocation to 6970.

The mill, and reality, points to number 2.

Our Chinese/Taiwanese friends supposedly 'in-the-know' mentioned long before the 6900 series release that it had (according to Googlnese) been "melted down" and changes had been made reducing shader count (From 1920 to 1792 IIRC, but I may remember wrong). I don't know exactly what was meant by that, but there was likely something to it. This is on top of reporting from a different source Cayman was taped out at least twice, the last time a pretty short time before launch (late Q3). TechEYE also ran a post (from 'inside-Taiwan sources') on Nov 7th indicating yields were in single digits and AMD was in a scurry to get SOMETHING out to compete because enough fully-functioning dies were not going to make it for a Q4 launch. So there's the hear-say.

Then there's facts. Not only was Cayman delayed, reinforcing yield rumors, but when you start looking at performance for 6950/6970 relative to Barts things get ugly. I don't know how any other conclusion could be reached other than this compromise satiated their need for yield, performance above Barts, if only barely, and the realization these two products were the only two they would be able to harvest dies for. It's hard to believe 6950 was planned to be only 10% faster than 6870, and the two 6900-series products 10% apart. We all know the standard gap between products (~15%), and this ain't that on multiple levels. Also note not only is 6970 the first part in eons from ATi with an unorthodox clockspeed (They HAD to release something comparable to GTX570, yields be damned) but that this core was architected after they knew their direct competition (512sp Fermi, ~750mhz). When a mid-range GTX560 (upclocked, mind you, to unexpectedly compete with 6950) is coming that will destroy not only Cayman's intended MSRP, but put pressure on AMD's whole $200-400 stack when AMD typically prides themselves on efficiency, you know something had to have gone terribly wrong.

If anything, the flashing ability would likely indicate 6950 was not planned to have 1408 shaders from the get-go, or the dies WOULD be locked down from TSMC. What if 6950 was planned to have 1536sp? To me, and I may stand alone, that makes a TON more sense.

[I]The plot thickens...[/I]
Posted on Reply
#5
DarkOCean
Now i want the 6950 even more.
Posted on Reply
#6
claylomax
"The dual BIOS feature is just an added convenience for easier recovery, it is not a requirement for this kind of modding, nor is it evidence that AMD has planned their cards with unlocking in mind" Why I find this a bit funny? :laugh:
Posted on Reply
#7
Over_Lord
News Editor
by: alwayssts
There were always two ways to look at that (if it was true). One just became less pessimistic, and more realistic.

1. Cayman yields were great, and most dies qualified to have all shaders enabled.
2. Cayman yields were terrible, and units were disabled on both parts. 6950 BECAME 6970 (Or at least shader specs drifted downward; perhaps revisioned more than once) allowing greater allocation to 6970.

The mill, and reality, points to number 2.

Our Chinese/Taiwanese friends supposedly 'in-the-know' mentioned long before the 6900 series release that it had (according to Googlnese) been "melted down" and changes had been made reducing shader count (From 1920 to 1792 IIRC, but I may remember wrong). I don't know exactly what was meant by that, but there was likely something to it. This is on top of reporting from a different source Cayman was taped out at least twice, the last time a pretty short time before launch (late Q3). TechEYE also ran a post (from 'inside-Taiwan sources') on Nov 7th indicating yields were in single digits and AMD was in a scurry to get SOMETHING out to compete because enough fully-functioning dies were not going to make it for a Q4 launch. So there's the hear-say.

Then there's facts. Not only was Cayman delayed, reinforcing yield rumors, but when you start looking at performance for 6950/6970 relative to Barts things get ugly. I don't know how any other conclusion could be reached other than this compromise satiated their need for yield, performance above Barts, if only barely, and the realization these two products were the only two they would be able to harvest dies for. It's hard to believe 6950 was planned to be only 10% faster than 6870, and the two 6900-series products 10% apart. We all know the standard gap between products (~15%), and this ain't that on multiple levels. Also note not only is 6970 the first part in eons from ATi with an unorthodox clockspeed (They HAD to release something comparable to GTX570, yields be damned) but that this core was architected after they knew their direct competition (512sp Fermi, ~750mhz). When a mid-range GTX560 (upclocked, mind you, to unexpectedly compete with 6950) is coming that will destroy not only Cayman's intended MSRP, but put pressure on AMD's whole $200-400 stack when AMD typically prides themselves on efficiency, you know something had to have gone terribly wrong.

If anything, the flashing ability would likely indicate 6950 was not planned to have 1408 shaders from the get-go, or the dies WOULD be locked down from TSMC. What if 6950 was planned to have 1536sp? To me, and I may stand alone, that makes a TON more sense.

[I]The plot thickens...[/I]
The GTX560 at 300$ price tag would hit AMD in the gut very bad.
Posted on Reply
#8
DarkOCean
The GTX560 at 300$ price tag would hit AMD in the gut very bad.[/quote]300 $ for 48 more shaders and 1 tess unit vs gtx 460 is quite not worth it in my opinion.The increase in shaders is the same with that of the 9800gtx vs 8800gt (~14%)wich u can easily compensate with overclock.
But 14% moree shaders doesn't mean the performance increase is linear in reality the shaders barely make a difference but the clocks affect performance more.
Posted on Reply
#9
H82LUZ73
So i guess and I`m thinking that the 6990 might just be a single gpu based card .Also the 6970`s might flash to them.:roll: The 6990 might be the full blown 1920 shader model that we all thought the 6970 was.

So now here is my problem do i buy 2 6950 or 2 6970 :banghead:
Posted on Reply
#10
gumpty
Wow.

Now this changes the bang-for-buck, big time. If I've done my sums correctly, this now puts the 6950 as better bang for buck than a 6870 as well.

(I used this to calculate)
Posted on Reply
#11
Tatty_One
Senior Moderator
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:
maybe the Asus cards still come with their excellent Volatge tweak software, I am going for the Asus in any case.
Posted on Reply
#12
the54thvoid
by: crazyeyesreaper
a 6970 is ... far slower then a 580

when it comes to an Intel system
Thank god i've got an i7... :laugh:

I think next year's 28nm shrink will be very 'soap opera'.

Can't wait!
Posted on Reply
#13
Tatty_One
Senior Moderator
Just checked, the Asus cards do come with their voltage tweak software so no worries on overclocking headroom there!
Posted on Reply
#14
Stavrus
by: TheGuruStud
8 pin doesn't add power.
I'm worried about the power consumption as well from bringing the 6950 up to 6970 speeds. According to the chart in the article, both the 6950+20% and the 6970+20% are achieving the same speeds, but the 6970+20% is drawing an additional 25W from the power supply that (from my understanding) can only come from the extra 75W provided by the 8-pin connection on the 6970. What is this extra 25W being used for? Will the 6950, running at 6970 speeds, hit a bottleneck in power consumption from not having the extra 75W supplied by the 8-pin connection?
Posted on Reply
#15
badsykes
Sapphire 6950 unlocked succesefully here.
There was glitch that ended:
At the Physics first test in 3dmark11 i ended up with black screen and the mouse cursor and freezed there.The pc didn't freezed completly so pressing space throw me back to desktop and i got an error from 3dm11 saying something unexpectly occured..
I raised the powertune glider to +20% and after this i run again two times the 3dmark11 bench and everything was fine..
From many bechies i saw that 6970 overclocked further gives very little performance improvement..With this unlocked card i hited the sweetest deal..
Posted on Reply
#16
roast
Excellent! Was planning on getting a 6950. :D
Does this increase/decrease overclocking potential at all?
Posted on Reply
#17
Dj-ElectriC
Overall ur getting better performance so it really doesn't matter
Posted on Reply
#19
bear jesus
by: Stavrus
Will the 6950, running at 6970 speeds, hit a bottleneck in power consumption from not having the extra 75W supplied by the 8-pin connection?
The 8 pin pci-e power connector just has two more ground wires, a 6 pin pci-e power connector is not limited to 75w, the official spec is 75w but how much can be drawn is down to the PSU and that will almost always be more than the official spec as long as it's within the max output of the PSU on the 12v rail.
Posted on Reply
#20
VulkanBros
That is just great - was going to buy the 6970 instead of my GTX480 "toaster" .... now I can save some bugs and save on my electrical bill as well ..... mann that´s what I call a Christmas gift :)
Posted on Reply
#21
wolf
Performance Enthusiast
by: Tatty_One
Just checked, the Asus cards do come with their voltage tweak software so no worries on overclocking headroom there!
sicknuts, 1ghz+ here we come!
Posted on Reply
#22
KainXS
so wiz do you think AMD did this on purpose

. . . . cause it looks that way
Posted on Reply
#23
Charismaman
just did a 36 step bios upgrade that makes Dos 6.0 into Windows 3.0! PC is super fast now. cannot wait to multi-task and then-------VGA with full 16 colors. Fantastic, thanks for posting the code.
Posted on Reply
#24
Over_Lord
News Editor
by: Charismaman
just did a 36 step bios upgrade that makes Dos 6.0 into Windows 3.0! PC is super fast now. cannot wait to multi-task and then-------VGA with full 16 colors. Fantastic, thanks for posting the code.
hmm, this would pretty much put a halt to sales of HD6970 and GTX570 is every HD6950 is unlockable.
Posted on Reply
#25
horik
Succes here with my sapphire 6950,first i tried to load the 6970 bios with winflash but did not work,then i tried with the command lines in cmd but did not work,then i downloaded your update pack and here you can see,1536 shaders and 880 mhz Gpu /1375 mhz memory. Thx W1zzard:respect:
Now the strange thing is that i have no way to change voltages in CCC or in Trixx...
Posted on Reply
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