by Anton Shilov
06/07/2004 | 03:43 PM
In contrast to previous information suggesting that modification of the ATI RADEON X800 PRO into ATI RADEON X800 XT chips is impossible, a number of enthusiasts all around the world found out that transforming less powerful chips into very rare high-end graphics processors is achievable.
VPU Modification - a Lottery For Computer Enthusiasts
In order to pick up the number of chips that could be sold to customers, ATI Technologies added a capability to disable defective rendering pipelines – certain corrupted integrated circuits inside graphics processor – so that they did not affect the operating process of the chip negatively.
Such cut-down products are typically sold at lower price-points compared to full-speed SKUs, but still deliver performance that is high-enough to attract attention of gamers. But because of high speed and low cost the demand for such graphics cards is usually above the level the company is able to supply such “partly-faulty” chips. As a result, the firm disables the rendering pipelines, sometimes referred as “pixel pipelines” on fully-functional graphics processors so to fulfill the demand. Since there is usually a way to re-enable the pipelines, some experienced end-users succeed in this and the product series quickly becomes very popular among such type of customers.
In the past two years ATI Technologies unveiled two graphics designs that allowed to re-enable 4 pixel pipelines and end up with a powerful visual processing unit with 8 rendering pipes – the RADEON 9500 and the RADEON 9800 SE. To set the additional pipes work, a number of measures could be performed: from installation of certain software to re-soldering certain resistors on the graphics processor. While it is natural that not all graphics cards allow such modification, power-users usually try to play the lottery.
Those Very Special Pins
Recently announced ATI RADEON X800 PRO and ATI RADEON X800 XT graphics cards are based on the same R420 chip, but with different number of pixel pipelines enabled. The RADEON X800 PRO features 12 pixel pipelines with 6 geometry pipelines and is clocked at 475MHz. The RADEON X800 XT graphics processor packs in 16 pixel pipelines with 6 geometry pipelines and is clocked at 520MHz.
RADEON X800 PRO. Please click to enlarge
As previously reported, there are two pins/contacts in the upper right corner of every RADEON X800 PRO graphics chip that seem to be cut. Re-soldering the contacts and flashing the RADEON X800 XT’s BIOS is really supposed to bring the rest 4 pipelines back to life if you are lucky enough. However, sometimes it does not work.
Not All RADEON X800 PRO are Mod-Friendly
Some RADEON X800 PRO graphics processors can be modified into the RADEON X800 XT chips, whereas others cannot, as quite a lot of unlucky experiences revealed. Even though the yields of the RADEON X800 PRO seem to be pretty fine, yields of graphics processors with 16-pipelines deserve better, as a result, only a part of ATI RADEON X800 PRO products can really be turned into more powerful solutions.