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PCB Design

The Sapphire Radeon HD 6970 2GB GDDR5 DualFan looks splendid with its stylish plastic casing and two fans with glossy black impellers.

The card is ordinary in terms of size: 270 x 111 x 45 millimeters.

It’s got a full selection of interfaces including one dual-link DVI-I port, one DVI-D, one HDMI 1.4a, and a couple of mini-DisplayPorts.

Included with the card is a mini-DisplayPort->DisplayPort 1.2 adapter. Besides the numerous connectors, there is a vent grid in the mounting bracket to exhaust the hot air out of the system case. This grid doesn’t do much for this card because of the design of its cooler that we'll discuss later on.

There are two MIO connectors for building CrossFireX configurations and a BIOS switch on the PCB:

One 8-pin and one 6-pin power connector are located in the top right corner of the card.

A 550-watt or better PSU is recommended for a computer with a single Radeon HD 6970. If you've got two such cards running in CrossFireX mode, your PSU should be 750 watts or better.

The card has a second-revision reference PCB and features a digital eight-phase power system based on a CHiL Semiconductor CHL82289 controller.

There are small black-painted aluminum heatsinks on the power circuit components, installed via thermal pads.

The card’s Cayman GPU was manufactured in Taiwan in late August (week 34).

The GPU has the standard Radeon HD 6970 configuration with 1536 unified shader processors, 96 texture-mapping units and 32 raster operators. The GPU frequency is 880 MHz at a voltage of 1.174 volts in 3D mode, which complies with the reference Radeon HD 6970 specs. A special feature of the Sapphire version is that it increases its GPU voltage to 1.2 volts at high loads in order to keep the GPU stable, which helps at overclocking. The second BIOS chip sets the standard voltage for every 3D mode, though. The GPU clock rate is lowered to 250 MHz at 0.9 volts in 2D applications.

There is nothing extraordinary about the graphics memory. The new Sapphire is equipped with 2 gigabytes of GDDR5 memory manufactured by Hynix Semiconductor in eight FCFBGA chips you can see on the face side of the PCB.

Labeled H5GQ2H24MFR R0C, these chips have a rated voltage of 1.6 volts and a clock rate of 6000 MHz, but the card clocks them at 5500 MHz, in strict compliance with the official Radeon HD 6970 specs. The memory clock rate is lowered to 600 MHz in 2D mode. The memory bus is 256 bits wide.

Here is a summary of the Sapphire Radeon HD 6970 2GB GDDR5 DualFan specs:

Now we can proceed to examining its most exciting cooler.

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