AMD Denies Possibility of "Unlocking" the Full Power of Radeon HD 6790

AMD: It Is Impossible to Unlock Additional Stream Processors on Radeon HD 6790

by Anton Shilov
04/06/2011 | 07:06 PM

Not all graphics cards are equally good for experienced end-users, who are not afraid of pushing their performance to the maximum possible level. Advanced Micro Devices officially confirmed that its latest AMD Radeon HD 6790 cannot be transformed into more powerful solution by re-enabling disabled units.


Unlocking deactivated execution units of graphics processors (such as stream processors, texture units, etc.) became popular in 2002, when ATI Technologies released a cut-down flavour of its flagship Radeon 9700 Pro based on the legendary R300 chip, which could be easily transformed into the fully-fledged high-end solution. Most recently, it appeared that 128 disabled stream processors of AMD Radeon HD 6950 could be easily re-activated by flashing-in a BIOS of the more expensive Radeon HD 6970, which originally came with 1536 stream processors. Unfortunately, according to AMD, the recently launched Radeon 6790 "Barts LE" graphics solution with 800 stream processors cannot be transformed into more powerful 6870 (1120 SPs) or 6850 (960 SPs) as the non-operating units are fused off, which means that they are physically, not logically disabled.

"It is not something that should be possible on the 6790. Those SIMDs are fused off," said Even Groenke, a graphics products manager at AMD.

Even though it is impossible to re-activate disabled stream processors and other units, the Radeon HD 6790 come with rather powerful coolers and ATI graphics division of AMD believes that enthusiasts will be able to speed up the novelty by overclocking it significantly.

"It is a card that has a lot of potential for overclocking, just take a look at overclocking results for other Barts-based graphics cards," said Mr. Groenke, adding that overclocking voids warranty.

AMD Radeon HD 6790 has 800 stream processors, 40 texture units, 16 render back ends as well as 256-bit GDDR5 memory controller. AMD recommends its partners to clock the chip at 840MHz and 1GB of memory at 4.2GHz, but many of actual graphics cards suppliers will introduce HD 6790 graphics cards with increased clock-speeds to differentiate themselves from competitors. The novelty fully supports DirectX 11, OpenCL 1.1 and other modern features, including hardware-accelerated playback of all high-definition video formats.

The highly cut-down version of AMD Barts graphics processor is not a product to fill the market gap, but a solution that will remain on the market for several quarters. Previously various "LE" versions of ATI/AMD Radeon graphics processors were temporary solutions and were available for a limited amount of time, but this is not the case with Barts LE.

"You are going to see the Radeon HD 6790 in the channel for a while. This is the product that will be in the 6700-series for a while, it is not a temporary SKU," said the products manager at AMD, adding that the model will remain on the market for at least a couple of quarters.