AMD Radeon HD 6950 to HD 6970 Modification
It has been known since the release of the AMD Radeon HD 6950 and Radeon HD 6970 graphics cards that the two cards were virtually identical. The Radeon HD 6950 and the 6970 are both based on AMD’s Cayman GPU core, having identical specifications except for the cards respective maximum power limit and power connectors. The features that are ‘locked’ on the AMD Radeon HD 6950 are done so in the GPU’s BIOS or vBIOS and can be ‘easily’ unlocked making the card the same as a AMD Radeon HD 6970 with the exception of the 8-pin PCIe power connector that doesn’t appear to be needed.
The Radeon HD 6950 has 22 SIMD units which make up 1408 ALU’s and the card operates at a 800MHz core clock with a 1250MHz memory clock. The main point to take note of is the PowerTune maximum limit as this will have the most effect on this upgrade.
The Radeon HD 6970 on the other hand has 24 SIMD units making up 1536 ALU’s total. Note the higher core clock and memory clock as well. All of this can be obtained on a 6950 with just a simple BIOS flash.
Any 2GB reference design HD 6950 should allow this process to be successful, to varying degrees. 1GB models are upgradable as well, however for the full 6970 upgrade a 1GB BIOS is required. For this tutorial and testing we will be using an ASUS Radeon HD 6950 (EAH6950/2DI2S/2GD5) which is based on the AMD reference design. This card has been discontinued and a revised model with an updated cooler has been released in its place (EAH6950 DCII/2DI4S/2GD5).The ASUS EAH6950 DCII/2DI4S/2GD5 graphics card retails for $304.99 plus $3.99 shipping
at Newegg, but we are going to try and turn it into the ASUS EAH6970 that retails for $379.99!
Over the course of the following pages we will compare performance of the 6950 at several different stages of modification and clock speeds.
- Stock 6950 BIOS. This will be our baseline.
- 6950 BIOS with Shaders unlocked. Core and memory clocks will remain at stock. This will use the BIOS already on the card.
- 6970 BIOS @ 6950 core clock. The core clock will remain at stock for this card, however the memory clock will be at 6970 speeds.
- 6970 BIOS @ full 6970 speeds.