by Anton Shilov
12/27/2010 | 09:44 PM
Back in 2002 ATI Technologies introduced its most breakthrough products in history - the Radeon 9700 Pro and Radeon 9500-series graphics cards, which were not only the world's first DirectX 9-supporting graphics cards, but the more affordable model could also be transformed into more powerful one. In the following years such transformations were no longer present, but it looks like with the launch of the Radeon HD 6900-series they are back.
Apparently, ATI Radeon HD 6950 can by transformed into more expensive Radeon HD 6970 graphics card by simply flashing-in a BIOS of a more advanced graphics cards, reports techPowerUp web-site. It looks like instead of using a hardware method to disable certain SIMD engines of the code-named Cayman chip for the model 6950 using hardware methods, the developer decided to just deactivate them using a special firmware version.
Unlocking the additional SIMD engines is done by flashing the card with a BIOS designed for the Radeon HD 6970 and, according to the web-site (which has published instructions how to perform the action), the method works for all reference design Radeon HD 6950 graphics cards.
The Radeon HD 6970 features 1536 stream processing units, 96 texture units, 32 render back ends, 880MHz clock-speed and 256-bit memory bus. Meanwhile, the Radeon HD 6850 sports the same chip with 1408 stream processing units, 88 texture units, 32 render back ends, 800MHz clock-speed and 256-bit memory bus. The higher-performance board costs $369, whereas the lower-end one is priced at $299. Naturally, after reflashing one into another and boosting clock-speeds, their performance levels become equal.
While the method seems to work at press time, future Radeon HD 6950 graphics cards may utilize different methods to lock the "unused" parts or may come with actually corrupted and then specifically disabled parts of the chip. In any case, any modification that causes work of a device beyond its spec is a risk.