Sunday, January 1st 2012

HD 7970 Overclocked to 1.26 GHz: 28 nm Tech Really Stretches Its Legs

Welcome to the first TechPowerUp news post of 2012! Read on for a couple of impressive overclocking feats with the HD 7970 graphics card.

It looks like the new AMD Radeon HD 7970 could be a bit of a dark horse and a lot more potent than its stock specifications would suggest – excellent for creating a competitive graphics card market. The reviews at stock speeds show the flagship HD 7970 to be around 10-15% faster than NVIDIA's flagship GTX 580, which doesn't seem all that impressive since the GTX 580 has been on the market for over a year now. However, what the reviews haven't really shown, is what kind of an overclocking monster the HD 7970 is. It definitely looks like AMD could have easily beaten the GTX 580 by a much bigger margin than they did, had they wanted to and it makes one wonder why they didn't.

VR-Zone have spent the New Year weekend overclocking this beast, having reached a whopping 1.26 GHz core clock speed with their HD 7970 - and decent benchmark improvements to go with it. Also, with the fan at 100%, the card never got above a very comfortable 68 degrees centigrade while running Furmark, which is amazing considering how this test is specifically designed to heat a graphics card to the max - but please see the update at the bottom of the article. The stock cooler may be noisy, but it's certainly very effective: an excellent result which will prolong the working life of the card.

VR-Zone has tested the card with the latest Sandy Bridge-E Core i7 3960X 6 core CPU. This has a stock clock of 3300 MHz, but they overclocked it to a huge 4680 MHz (42%) to wring the best performance from the card possible. Now, there's an achievement right there. Note that they didn't reveal what CPU cooler was used to achieve this overclock.

The GPU-Z screenshot shows the core clock speed of 1267 MHz. This was achieved "with core voltage bumped from 1.15v to 1.25v using publicly available software and a special bios (9th Jan reveal), we got the core clock speed up to 1267MHz." The standard card is BIOS-locked to a maximum clock ceiling of 1125 MHz on the core and 1500 MHz on the memory, which it can handle with ease.

3DMark 11 Performance Preset (stock is P8227)

3DMark 11 Extreme Preset (stock is X2764)

ComputeMark (stock is 5920 marks)

Unigine Heaven 2.5 (stock is 69.6fps)

With results like these, AMD have set a high bar which NVIDIA will have its work cut out to beat and it'll be really interesting to see what Kepler brings to the table in the next few months. Also, overclocking legend Shamino has managed to push one of these cards to an astounding 1.7 GHz+ on LN2! Read about it here.

So, as of January 1st 2012, the HD 7970 extends its lead as the undisputed single GPU enthusiast card of choice for straight-line framerate performance and smooth gameplay in demanding games. A great way for AMD to start the year.

UPDATE: Notice how the Furmark screenshot shows the card achieving a mere 40fps at 1280x720? A card in this performance bracket can obviously do way better than this. This poor framerate will be down to the power throttling circuitry protecting the card under such conditions by slowing down the performance severely. If the throttle was disengaged the card would perform spectacularly for a short while and then likely cook itself to death, especially with this overclock. Thanks to one of our eagle-eyed forum members for spotting this.
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56 Comments on HD 7970 Overclocked to 1.26 GHz: 28 nm Tech Really Stretches Its Legs

#1
m&m's
by: qubit
This was achieved "with core voltage bumped from 1.15v to 1.25v using publicly available software and a special bios (9th Jan reveal), we got the core clock speed up to 1267MHz."
The publicly software is in reality a beta of GPU Tweak... (Which is not available on the Asus Website at the moment)...

http://kingpincooling.com/forum/showpost.php?p=18969&postcount=22
Posted on Reply
#2
OneCool
Man this sucks!!! I wish I had the money to setup up a new gaming rig right now.Hardware is lookin good these days.
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#3
amd/atifiend
meh, i don't hear anything out of my 6870's but then again i do have a set of swift tech blocks on em.

just go liquid and quit complaining. you can have your cake and eat it too. camaro+leaf+more power+more handling+more braking= AMG mercedes.

ill wait til these 2 6870's cant cut the mustard then get either 7xxx or 8xxx performance gpu for cheap :)
Posted on Reply
#4
SteelSix
Healthy oc's are a bonus. I'm equally stoked about ZeroCore technology. A long overdue feature IMO. If Kepler doesn't offer something similar, shame on nVidia!
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#6
Thefumigator
by: OneCool
Man this sucks!!! I wish I had the money to setup up a new gaming rig right now.Hardware is lookin good these days.
Tell that to me I'm still on this 4 year old lovely Phenom 9550 x4, with an nvidia 8200 IGP (hey, its still a very respectable system, also I can upgrade to a Phenom II X6 later)

I even received and old LCD monitor as gift and I can't plug it in because my mobo lacks a second video output :laugh:
Posted on Reply
#7
v12dock
by: blibba
Not in a million years.

But I guess my point is this: speed isn't the only factor, and you don't have to sacrifice noise for performance. Given the choice between a Mustang and a comparably priced Audi, for example, I'd pick the Audi. And a lot of the reasoning behind that is to do with the Audi being quieter and using less fuel. If I was in the market for a 7970, and there was a 7950 with a quality PCB and a near-silent aftermarket cooler for the same price or cheaper, I'd take the 7950.

Well, that's a lie - I'd bank the money. But you get the idea :P
Until your man juices get flowing and persuade you otherwise. America is the epicenter of pleasure we design cars to do just that
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#8
OneCool
by: Thefumigator
Tell that to me I'm still on this 4 year old lovely Phenom 9550 x4, with an nvidia 8200 IGP (hey, its still a very respectable system, also I can upgrade to a Phenom II X6 later)

I even received and old LCD monitor as gift and I can't plug it in because my mobo lacks a second video output :laugh:
Dude im on a Aspire One netbook... although I do have a PS3 but its just not the same once you had a kickass gaming rig.... my last one was a Q6600,2 HIS HD2900xts in CF with Vista 64bit :banghead:,4gbs G.skill,no such thing as SSD in the main stream back then.. had a couple of 36gig raptors in raid0..OCZ 750 psu.... now im struggling just to put together a HTPC with some old socket 775 parts....not going so good either :rolleyes:
Posted on Reply
#9
blibba
by: v12dock
Until your man juices get flowing and persuade you otherwise. America is the epicenter of pleasure we design cars to do just that
Wow. Let's not get into that.
Posted on Reply
#10
OneCool
Mustang Boss 302R..... done and done :nutkick:
Posted on Reply
#12
Hayder_Master
Ok if we compare new EVGA GTX580 classifide 3Gb which is also with voltage tune can hit over 1.2Ghz with 7970, how much be the different ?
10% or maybe less
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#13
v12dock
by: wolf
Looks like they were both using old drivers for 3DMark11! new scores @ ~1.25ghz is P12,000+

:toast:
These cards are just insane...

Did you see this

3Dmark 11 P15063 @ 1700Mhz
Faster than SLI 590 @ P13425 + 6990 Xfire @ P13734
Posted on Reply
#14
SteelSix
"I asked two people at NVIDIA why Fermi is late; nVidia's VP of Product Marketing, Ujesh Desai and NVIDIA's VP of GPU Engineering, Jonah Alben. Ujesh responded: because designing GPUs this big is f**king hard."

I keep thinking about that statement as this 4billion+ transistor GPU launches.
Posted on Reply
#15
DarthCyclonis
I'm not a fan boy either way. I always buy the card with the best performance for dollar. This card looks nice. Good performance increase over the previous generation. I only hope for pricing reasons that Nvidia and team Green has an answer for this. AMD may be stinking it up in the processor segment but ATI has certainly paid off for them. :toast:
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#16
Jonap_1st
dang,, 68C on stable 1,2Ghz overclock.

can't wait for non-reference card from HIS or Sapphire
Posted on Reply
#17
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: Jonap_1st
dang,, 68C on stable 1,2Ghz overclock.

can't wait for non-reference card from HIS or Sapphire
Don't forget the card was throttled by the protection power circuitry. Please see my article update.
Posted on Reply
#18
vrzone
hi there i was the guy who did it.

these were the furmark settings used:

even on the other benchies and BF3 (which walls the CPU to 99%), didn't see the temps go above the magical 66 degrees (toasty Singapore ambient), measured by onboard i2c sensor and ma fingers.

you can verify this with all the other overclockers who have cards
Posted on Reply
#19
Live OR Die
had they wanted to and it makes one wonder why they didn't.
Thats easy to answer why would ATI release a card which pushes the limits of the 28nm GPU when its only just be released doing it this way they can just release a faster clocked version and call it a 8970 after nvidia releases there next GPU all the 7970 is its just cock tease for nvidia to make them show there ballz.
Posted on Reply
#20
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: Live OR Die
Thats easy to answer why would ATI release a card which pushes the limits of the 28nm GPU when its only just be released doing it this way they can just release a faster clocked version and call it a 8970 after nvidia releases there next GPU all the 7970 is its just cook tease for nvidia to make them show there ballz.
You may be right. It's certainly plausible.

by: vrzone
hi there i was the guy who did it.

these were the furmark settings used:
http://i.imgur.com/WAuyP.png
even on the other benchies and BF3 (which walls the CPU to 99%), didn't see the temps go above the magical 66 degrees (toasty Singapore ambient), measured by onboard i2c sensor and ma fingers.

you can verify this with all the other overclockers who have cards
Yes, but the GPU would have been throttled back by the protection circuit wouldn't it? The framerate was quite low at 40fps.
Posted on Reply
#21
vrzone
by: qubit
You may be right. It's certainly plausible.



Yes, but the GPU would have been throttled back by the protection circuit wouldn't it? The framerate was quite low at 40fps.
since TPU has a card you guys can try the overclocked load temps with the fan speeds at 100%. I did check for performance improvement with every clock increment to check if there was throttling (not with furmark though)
Posted on Reply
#22
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: vrzone
since TPU has a card you guys can try the overclocked load temps with the fan speeds at 100%. I did check for performance improvement with every clock increment to check if there was throttling (not with furmark though)
Interesting. Still, the framerate seems pretty low. I'm sure I had better than that with my cards at that sort of resolution and they're not as fast as this one.
Posted on Reply
#23
theJesus
by: vrzone
since TPU has a card you guys can try the overclocked load temps with the fan speeds at 100%. I did check for performance improvement with every clock increment to check if there was throttling (not with furmark though)
My guess is that it only throttled in furmark.
Posted on Reply
#25
alwayssts
A fairly clear picture is starting to emerge about 28nm and voltage in terms to laymen and regular cooling.

At stock 1.15v, the only review I saw that didnt use CCC to overclock achieved 1165mhz. AMD mentioned to them 1200 could be possible at stock, ~1300mhz with voltage tuning.

VR-zone using 1.25v achieved an exactly linear increase.
1700mhz was 1.7v right? Also pretty linear.

That crazy 1335mhz part would then infer a voltage of around 1.31-1.32.

things to note:

1. AMD used ~1.31-1.32v stock for 4890 on 55nm...see point #2. One can always assume they would have wanted the same for 40nm had it not been leaky as hell above ~1.175v (6870/6970 stock voltage). AMD has shown a pattern of being conservative on stock voltage by about 5% on first-gen parts on a process...re 4870/5770/5870. The 3000 series is an anomaly because of the lack of decap layer...hence why yields were so good. Voltage was high...clockspeed not.

2. Intel suggests not running chips above 1.325v, as it has been shown to shorten lifespan of their cpus. AMD may agree with this given their past voltage settings, guidance on 7970 overclocking, and that Sapphire pushed-to-the-max model. This also may get VERY close to the 300W spec.

Now, TSMC aint Intel, and 28nm hkmg clearly aint 40 or 55nm...but rules of thumb are nice...and 28nm looks to put things back on course of where they should be in accordance to the AMD strategy of small dies with topped out voltages and clockspeeds while staying within tdp specs. Because it appears so well organized, I would be very surprised if the fastest and highest voltage official tahiti sku we see is 925mhz @ 1.15v.

I admire all the facets the ATi group looks at when designing a GPU. Thrifty, practical scaling...just damn smart engineering.
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