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Graphics AMD Hardware Hacking Upgrades Build Hardware Technology

AMD Radeon HD 6950 Can Be Unlocked To HD 6970 191

An anonymous reader writes "AMD's new Radeon HD 6950 can be unlocked to a HD 6970 via BIOS mod. Performance of the unlocked card is identical to the full blown HD 6970!"
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AMD Radeon HD 6950 Can Be Unlocked To HD 6970

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:24AM (#34674896)

    A lot of manufacturers will do this, actually. Their first device will contain very high quality, standard HW that is somewhat overspec for what they intend, but due to driver support and ease of implementation they can get it out the door in a reasonable amount of time. Then for their successor device they will take the lessons learned, use cheaper parts, use better optimized software, and sell it as the "cheaper" version.

    You are getting lousier HW, but arguably better SW, so the performance gap isn't as big as their marketing lit will let on. On paper, the expensive first gen device looks better, but when the rubber hits the anus it's pretty much a wash.

    • Except that all the drivers are pretty much unified, so it comes down to detuned hardware... and I suspect manufacturing tolerances these days is such that the detuned hardware isn't as out of spec as it might once have been.

      • Considering I've got a AMD X3 and Linux is reporting 4 cores, I'd agree with you.

        They do bin the chips based on performance, but that doesnt guarantee that you dont get a higher performance chip, nor does it mean you cannot use the additional hardware assuming its not completely dead.
        In my example, I've obviously gotten a chip that was binned as a AMD X4 but they needed more X3's so they just turned a working core off.

        • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:11AM (#34675030)
          Or perhaps they turned it off because, while it works almost all the time, it'll fail one in ten million floating point operations at random, or is prone to fail at moderatly high temperatures or workloads. If you want to use the 'disabled' core, I suggest you run your own tests to determine if there is some minor fault. Slow the fans so it runs hot and calculate pi. If it can run for 24 hours and produce the right result, it's probably good.
          • Its been running for 18 months. I'm quite confident what I got was indeed a X4 or at least any problem with it is so minor it can not occur with my usage patterns. :)

            • I ran for maybe a year overclocked and then one day while playing Alpha Centauri and watching a video at the same time my system became unstable... back to stock speed, no more problems. Good luck! Silicon DOES degrade over time.

              • by Lord Byron II ( 671689 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @10:52AM (#34675974)
                Just to reply to the parents: -Just because you run the system for 6/12/18 months without a crash does not mean its stable. Most apps won't crash if 1+1=1.9999. You're not likely to notice if a single pixel in a single frame in a YouTube video is the wrong color. -Just because your system is stable, then has a crash doesn't mean that the silicon is degrading. Even a "perfect" chip will have a fault or two every few 10^x calculations (where x is some large number).
                • by Kjella ( 173770 )

                  Internally computer programs have lots and lots of pointers to memory addresses whether your programming language exposes them to you or not, and a flipped bit in a pointer will almost certainly make it crash. Maybe if you're talking "just outside tolerance limits" kind of error rate, but a CPU that regularly fumbles would be very noticable.

              • I don't think it really has anything to do with silicon degrading as much as when you are OCing you are running way out of spec. Think of it THIS way: You buy a Chevy that was engineered to run smooth at 4k, redline at 6k. You "tweak" it to run at 6k, reline at 8k. Will it run? Yep, it'll run. Will it last? Not likely because you are pushing it harder than it was designed to run when you OC it!

                And I already know what some are gonna say "These parts were built to run higher, binned as lower, yada yada yada"

                • Your analogy is a bit weak - you buy the crap chevy (seriously, 6k redline?) and tweak it to run at 6/8 - that means a balanced crank, beefy connecting rods, and upgraded vavletrain. it may not be as reliable as the crap baseline version, but that's because it's a faster design and those tend to require more care. The analogous CPU already has the upgrades because it costs about the same to make the fast version as the slow. You just mark them as slow so you can maintain market segments. Sure, this only hap

                  • Actually I answer the "higher bin/lower bin" bit, as i said the odds that you will get a class A chip that has been binned as a class C is VERY low. I wish the site still existed or I had copypasta'd the conversation, because I had a real nice chat with a guy that actually worked the line at Intel on a forum when the whole Celeron 300a OC thing was big, and he explained it like this: Sure occasionally you'll get a class A chip with a yield much higher than expected and so you'll dump some as a lower spec to

                • I dont know how overclocking got in to this conversation. In my instance there is no overclocking - just unlocking a extra core that works correctly.

                  In the article's instance, its unlocking the additional pipelines and so on, with optional overclocking.

        • It's a feature of some amd motherboards bios to unlock extra cores if they exist.

          It seems to be a feature to allow you to use the extra cores if they exist but amd is probably only certifying that the cores you pay for work.
          if you use the bios setting the extra cores may or may not work so you could be lucky or unlucky.

          It also allows amd to make 6 core cpu in bulk with a low yield rate and sell it as a 4 core cpu if one of the cores does not work.

          • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) *

            From RTFA ( http://www.techpowerup.com/articles/overclocking/vidcard/159 [techpowerup.com] instead of the click-thru announcement / ad page linked in the summary :P ), only a tiny amount of performance is gained by enabling the disabled shaders... (from the graphic only 2 out of 24 are disabled).

            Most of the performance match is accomplished by overclocking it 10% to match the higher spec card. The higher spec cards appear to have a beefier cooling hardware, though.

            They needed to raise (effectively eliminating) the "PowerT

      • I bought a NEC DVD burner a few years ago. There was a flash mod that upgraded it to a DL burner. Worked great. Basically, same hardware, just a BIOS change.
      • It depends.

        I don't do chip design myself, but a few guys I work with do. They spend quite a while trying to get the fabrication pass ratio up to workable levels when there's a new part. It's nowhere near as simple as "all 6950s are secretly 6970s." It probably will mostly work for many of them, which is what a sane overclocker is going to expect anyway. However, it's very likely that a part from a later production run will have better odds of passing an "aftermarket upgrade" to the higher bin since fabricat

    • by ZDRuX ( 1010435 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:34AM (#34674918)

      "...but when the rubber hits the anus it's pretty much a wash."

      I was like whaa....? But then I looked at your name and all was set right in the universe.

    • by santax ( 1541065 )
      "when rubber hit the anus", I see a titl
    • But how stable will it be when the HD6970 uses both an extra 50w AND a different pin connection [hothardware.com] than a HD6950. The 6970 uses an 8 pin and a 6, the HD6950 uses a dual 6 connector setup. Can dual PCIe connectors pull the 250w load that the HD6970 requires? This isn't like some Athlon X3 where the only thing you have to do is flip a switch, the other chip pulls more wattage at load and there is no telling if there are other parts besides the connector pin set that they have changed between the cards. Since bot
  • I just checked a price list, the price difference is about AU$80-100, ~$390 compared to $480. I wonder how long that difference will stay.
    • Yeah I just looked that up:
      6950 = $300 [newegg.com]
      6970 = $360 [newegg.com]

      $60 savings, yippy!! 20% off!!

      I wouldn't be surprised if AMD secretly released the hack to sell more $300 cards. Seriously what idiot is still paying $300+ for a video card in 2010? 2001 called and what their video card prices back.
      • by Hynee ( 774168 )
        I tend to agree with other posters, it's not worth voiding your warranty for. I've paid 20% extra for extended warranty before.
  • If this (Score:4, Interesting)

    by velja27 ( 1427879 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [72ajlev]> on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:38AM (#34674930)
    If people start to buy this kind of "locked" graphic cards and unlock them then the manufacturers will start to cripple the cards for good. Or simply make truly weaker graphic cards instead of limited ones with the same chipset.
    • O! the Humanity! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jabberw0k ( 62554 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:45AM (#34674960) Homepage Journal
      If people start buying underclocked CPUs and overclocking them, the manufacturers will start to cripple the CPUs for good, or make weaker CPUs... Wait, haven't we been down that road before?
    • Re:If this (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hellop2 ( 1271166 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:47AM (#34674966)
      So, what's your point? Don't hack hardware?

      We can't control what they do. Luckily, they can't control what we do.
      • Re:If this (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Zakabog ( 603757 ) <john@j[ ]g.com ['mau' in gap]> on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:59AM (#34674994)

        Luckily, they can't control what we do.

        That's his point, they can control what we do. If we hack their hardware to run better with simple software solutions then they'll just redesign the hardware so there's a physical restriction on how well the card will perform. Though there would be no point in being able to hack the device if you're too afraid to do it for fear that they might cripple future devices.

        • Re:If this (Score:5, Insightful)

          by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:31AM (#34675086) Homepage Journal
          Ultimately it depends on how much they actually (think) they end up losing. The reason they ship the same hardware to begin with is because it obviously costs them more to set up separate lines for the two cards than it does for them to put the extra bit unused hardware in the lower spec'd card. If ultimately they think that doing this will cost them more in lost sales than they gain in increased manufacturing efficiency then they will start shipping divergent hardware, but if only a tiny portion of their customer base mods their cards then they will probably just consider it collateral damage and maybe up the difficulty of modding the software in the next version.
        • That's his point, they can control what we do. If we hack their hardware to run better with simple software solutions then they'll just redesign the hardware so there's a physical restriction on how well the card will perform.

          Why presume that these hacks arent just a profit-motived feature?

          What incentive do they have not to do things like they are now? or more to the point, if they did "permanent" disabling, what would be their incentive not to change to a disable method with an easy workaround?

          I think that you people are forgetting your history. Both AMD and Intel used to always do real physical disabling. Now they don't always do that.

    • Long time ago, i was using a tool that let's you modify any NVidia card BIOS. I very soon had dirty words appearing when BIOS POST was running. It also made it possible to change stock GPU and memory clock frequencies.
      • I think I used the clock-modifying tool too... on my old FX5200. I got Half Life 2 to play on that card with a bit of overclocking.
    • 3 words for you (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @10:04AM (#34675612)
      I got 3 words for you. Economies of scale.

      It underpins the manufacturing of all processors currently out there. What is being done here is nothing new. It's as old as overclocking. Some manufactures tried various ways of locking them. Ultimately though once you customise a chip enough it adds to the bottom line production cost. That's why AMD's version of hardware locking at the time included setting 5 jumpers external to the CPU die and then laser cutting them. Remember the pencil trick to get Athlons unlocked?

      Creating a truly weaker card means customised production runs, which means setup costs for the batch. Not something you want when margins are next to nothing.
      • by DaveGod ( 703167 )

        TFA is reporting a 100% success rate, but don't assume every 6950 is going to mod as well as this batch. It may be that the foundry have utterly nailed this chip and every single one is going to roll out at 6970 spec. But, it's probably just scale economies on the initial supply, scale economies do change over time. It might also be that *spins wheel* they deliberately did this because the 6970 is the only fully tested board yet. Or *spins wheel* they wanted these rumours to help sell their cards.

        Or *spins

    • Then their competitors will leave the unlocking "easter egg" to gain sales and win anyway.

      "Limited" "protection" has its advantages, like the favorable publicity it creates through stories on /. :)

    • by Bengie ( 1121981 )

      Then I'll whip out my mechanical pencil and connect the traces... oh wait, wrong chip.

      Come on, raise of hands on how many people "modded" their AMD chips to have unlocked multipliers?

      My Celeron 300a->450 overclock was the best though.
      P3-700 -> 933 wasn't bad either.

    • So?
      Don't hack it now so that you could hack it later? But don't hack it later so that you could hack it even later?

      If we don't hack it, there's no practical difference whether it's locked out or not.

      Besides, how many cards was that tested on? How reliably can the hack be replicated across different batches of cards?

      Thing is, often the "disabled" part is one that didn't pass tests. So, they get 60% yield of the chip with all the features, the remaining 40% have the extra parts faulty. But the market demands

    • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )

      This is AMD we're talking about, here.

      You know, the same company which basically started the whole "unlocking hardware" phenomenon in the commodity hardware realm? IIRC this started with the Thoroughbred Athlons - quite accidentally. Now it's usually possible to 'unlock' them in the BIOS, if that's your cup of tea.

      Video cards have been 'upgradable' by changing the clock speed, in the past - the 'defaults' were just lower for the cheap card. This is really nothing much new.

      Though, considering that higher end

  • Overclocking guide (Score:5, Informative)

    by nicholas22 ( 1945330 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @06:53AM (#34674978)
    An overclocking guide can be found here [techpowerup.com]. You *might* get problems under extreme load, because the 6950 uses the 6-pin power connector, whereas the 6970 can draw more power, because it uses the 9-pin connector.
    • You *might* get problems under extreme load, because the 6950 uses the 6-pin power connector, whereas the 6970 can draw more power, because it uses the 9-pin connector.

      This is the problem to take into account. Even if you run this card for 24 hours straight doing calculations and nothing "appears" to go wrong it just might take 72 hours of processing to do it, and not necessarily 72 hours straight just 72 hours all together. This is the risk because you might think your saving $80 or whatever but in reality you're destroying a good chunk of the cards life which will cost you more in the end when you replace it prematurely.

      • An unmodified stock top-of-the-line card could also be 24 hours away from failure. I've RMA'd enough video cards to know that stock or OC'd, it's a crapshoot. The power design issue is really the only one which would give me pause.

        As to replacing the card "prematurely", LOL. This is an enthusiast card. The customer demographic replaces their video HW more often than they change underwear! Long-term survival is a non-issue. If unlocking shaves two years off a three -year life expectancy, that still leaves s

    • by Elledan ( 582730 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @10:31AM (#34675824) Homepage
      That's not correct. The 6 and 8-pin PCIe connectors are identical. They have the same number of ground and 12V wires between the GPU and the PSU, the same wire gauge and can carry the same amount of power. The 8-pin connector exists because in the PCIe spec they had a sense wire for the 12V line specified on this connector, which would then allow the connector to carry more current as the PSU would be able to better regulate the voltage. In practice this is much more easily done at the PSU side, making the 8-pin connector useless and allows the 6-pin connector to carry the same 150 Watt as the 8-pin one.

      Want to check this? Just use a 6-pin connector and short the remaining two pins on the GPU to ground to satisfy the GPU if it checks for a connection there and everything will work just peachy fine. If you check 8-pin PCIe connectors you'll see that this is all they do: short the two extra pins to ground.
      • Wouldn't you want to short with some kind of a load? Just shorting them is a nice way to burn something.

      • The 6 and 8-pin PCIe connectors are identical. They have the same number of ground and 12V wires between the GPU and the PSU, the same wire gauge and can carry the same amount of power.

        Right, but the HD6970 has a 6-pin and and 8-pin, while the HD6950 has only the 6-pin.

        So, the real 6970 should be able to draw more power than a 6950 with the 6970 BIOS, as it has a thicker wire total.

  • by lostmongoose ( 1094523 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:11AM (#34675034)
    same thing was possible with the 9550 Pro -> 9700 and with the 9700 -> 9700 Pro both were done with BIOS flashing
    • by bami ( 1376931 )

      And radeon 9800 LE (4 pixel pipelines) to the radeon 9800 pro (8 pixel pipelines).
      I softmodded it with no problems, got quite the performance gain. A friend with an identical card (same brand/same chipset and bought within a month of eachother) got artifacts from about half his pixels being garbage.

      That same softmodded card still works today (I gave it to another friend so that he could play BF2), while the crippled card of my friend is long dead.

      Sure you can 'upgrade' it that way, but unless you stress tes

    • by cbope ( 130292 )

      I think you meant 9500 Pro > 9700. The 9550 was handicapped even more compared to the 9500 Pro (one of ATI's great naming disasters, and don't get me started on the 9600 Pro that had only 4 pipes). On the 9500 Pro all the mod did was remove the clock lock that ATI had put on it. Both the 9500 Pro and 9700 had 8 pixel pipes, but the 9700 had a wider memory interface, 256-bit if I remember correctly, compared to the 128-bit interface on the 9500 Pro. So while you could get the pipes on a 9500 Pro clocked u

  • by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:18AM (#34675058)

    So, that's 20 faster?

  • 3.5" floppies (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bonniot ( 633930 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:31AM (#34675084) Homepage Journal
    Reminds me how the way drives recognized 1.44MB floppies (3.5") from 720KB ones was by checking if there was a hole in the bottom-right corner (the bottom-left corner being for write protection). And sure enough, if you made a hole in a 720KB floppy it would be possible to format it as 1.44. There might have been a few more errors, but I remember when HD floppies were 3-4 times more expensive, so it was definitely worth it. At least for a teenager with only pocket money. Ah, those floppy drilling afternoons... Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?
    • It was possible to use the flip side of 5.25" floppies by notching the other edge of the disk. Specialized cutters were sold for making square notches, but round-hole paper punchers worked too. Manufacturers certified, of course, only the original side of the disk, but I never had a problem using the flip side.

      • I used to do this also (had a dedicated hole puncher made for the purpose - it was blue, as I recall.) I hypothesized that the problems (rare, but not unheard of) weren't from the media not being good enough, but because running the disk backwards gave all the grit and crap that got caught in the white soft layers of the cover a chance to come loose and get back onto the media, and occasionally onto the drive head.

        But yea, given that a new ST 251-1 (40 meg hard drive) was $300~$400 at the time, being able

        • by drsmithy ( 35869 )

          But yea, given that a new ST 251-1 (40 meg hard drive) was $300~$400 at the time, being able to store 2.4 megabytes of data on a single $1 floppy disk seemed worth the risk.

          You couldn't do this with 1.2MB disks as they were already double-sided (ie: the drives had two R/W heads), so your memory might be a bit hazy there.

          IIRC, the biggest disks that could be used as "flippies" were 720K - 360K on each side (though might have only been 360K - 2x180K ?). Single-sided drives on IBM-compatible PCs were uncom

          • Holy crap, you're right. SSDD disks (single sided, double density) were 360K on a side, and that's what we were using at a buck a piece.

            The other trick was to drill out the notch on a 3.5" double density disk so the drive thought it was a high density, upping the space from 720K to 1.44M (highly recommended that you test the disk first with scratch data, as they didn't all work at the high density settings.)

      • I actually remember a couple of games I had back on the IBM XT that used the flip side of the disk, so they could be distributed on a single floppy.

    • During that era I had an IBM PS/2 386SX, and I could not figure out why I was hearing the stories about the hole in 720KB floppies, when I could simply take said floppies, put them in my drive and format them using the appropriate switch (was it something like /F:1.44?) at the 1.44MB capacity. They would then work (unreliably) as high density diskettes. So why the hole? Was it a different OS version that did not let you format at will? The PS/2 came with IBM DOS 4 originally IIRC but I had upgraded later (e

    • Generally we found that the disk would work once, maybe twice before it was tossed for good. We tried all brands with no luck. This was back on the Amiga 500, and it used a bit of...unique way to read and write to floppies, so maybe it was the drive more than anything else.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:31AM (#34675092)

    Welcome to the world of "economy of scale". You may also be interested to see how routers are sold/marketed. (see: dlink, linksys and motorola, etc)

    The interesting part is NOT why this can be, but rather whether it is legal and also how the bios code was extracted. This is why consumers should demand more "open hardware". Because consumers are consistently paying for the manufacturing of quality hardware only to have the manufacturer bundle crap software (cripple ware) onto it. And for what? so they can target various price points within their target markets.

    Question: do you think this is an environmentally sound practice? It isn't very "green" to sell a physical product to the consumer only to restrict its usage to some lesser subset of its full potential. I don't understand why the geeky tree huggers among us don't get on this and start demanding more and longer functionality out of the products we consume. ex: I have access to 4 cannon cameras that look much the same, are the same age and yet all the batteries and chargers are incompatible. Why? so i cannot reuse batteries or charges and must trash and re-buy each individually. With other products I cannot charge everything thru USB even when it is possible. Why? for additional after market adapter sales. I have routers that are exact same hardware yet function and priced quite differently. why? do i have to tell you. I have portable devices that have rechargable AA batteries taped into a pack with a unique plug, instead of just using a regular AA slot. Why? i think you know. Cell phone pricing/plans/contracts/packages are designed to encourage me to "revolve" phones every year or so... why? its too obvious to say.

    We consumers are being forced to make additional garbage for the landfills and discouraged from thinking about the consequences when we really could squeeze much more life from our existing electronics. We should be outraged (those that care for the future). But instead we are lulled into the belief that our existing equipment is crap and that getting something new benefits us. We are convinced that we are the ones demanding this from the manufactures. I tell you it is the other way. In reality this only benefits the manufacturer... who is actively limiting the functionality of our beloved products to further this fallacy to maximise their profits.

    What you can do when possible (if you care): Buy generic brand electronics, use open source and demand refunds for bundled software when possible. Note that Windows is always refundable when sold with a computer... read the contract... if you care to read contracts before accepting them. ie: keep the quality computer hardware, but drop the cripple wear (windows 7 starter).d

    • what you speak of, is capitalism. as long as profit maximization is the goal, and businesses are allowed unregulated freedom, they will do these.
    • by Elbereth ( 58257 )

      Wow. That's some entitlement complex you've got there.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I don't think "doing what I want with stuff I bought and own" to be much of an entitlement, personally. :-P

    • This is capitalism.

      If you went into a BestBuy and saw the 6970's and one marked "6970 but slightly dodgey" you'd ask for a cash discount.
      They've just made it easier for some peoples sub-par IQs and marked it 6950 to save everyones time.

      Hey, AMD could have binned the whole "faulty" chip - so where's your tree-hugging mentality now?

    • I agree with the batteries and power adapters thing, mostly. Mostly because battery shapes, sizes, capacities, and related technologies are, in fact, not all identical. I'd be bloody surprised if a big Canon SLR worked well with the same power delivery hardware as a smaller camera.

      Also, don't forget that software has value. Using Canon as an example again, a lot of the more useful recent improvements in digital cameras are just better onboard software. Manufacturers do deserve to be paid more for the same c

    • They aren't paying for the manufacture of superior hardware or some crap like that, they're paying for some goods that function as advertised. It doesn't matter whether they're overspec or not, they work: if you want to try for more, good luck to you, but you're on your own. The environmental angle is fairly specious anyway - you're arguing that we shoudl force manufacturers to do... something so you don't toss hardware as frequently, but we do that anyway. Sure that's a problem, but this isn't the solution
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      And for what? so they can target various price points within their target markets.

      Well, let's say you want to replace the 6950/70 with a single product, what should the price be? They can make it as expensive as the 6950, losing a bunch of profit on the 6970 sales they would have made. Or as expensive as the 6970, but then you'd lose lots of sales that just wouldn't pay what a 6970 costs. You talk as if price points were made up by the industry when they in fact reflect that people have different amounts of disposable cash and put different value on things. There's not a single card that

  • by EmagGeek ( 574360 ) <gterich&aol,com> on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:39AM (#34675104) Journal

    So if I am a graphics chip manufacturer, I know that the fewer unique designs I have, the cheaper it will be to manufacture my product line. If I make both chips and boards, the same economy of scale applies to both the chips themselves and the assembled boards.

    If I can determine both my chip and board yield at in-circuit test, and configure each manufactured device to its maximum possible stable capability, then my manufacturing product yield is maximized.

    This type of yield binning is nothing new.

    • by Splab ( 574204 )

      Also, this will definitely pump the sales of the 6950 board. When precious little snowflake needs a new GFX to run the new game given for Christmas, there is definitely going to be some pushing for the "cheap" 6950 with upgrade in mind.

      • The overwhelming majority of consumers will likely never hear about this mod even being possible. They'll buy the 6950 for an entirely different reason: it's cheaper, and it's good enough for most gaming content.

        • by msauve ( 701917 )
          The overwhelming majority of consumers wouldn't even think buying a separate graphics card, let alone paying $300 for one. The overwhelming majority of consumers will just go out to Big Box Store and buy whatever prepackaged PC appeals to their wallet.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Except you're wrong about how parts are binned. It's generally not so much about yield binning, and more about market segments, 10% of the market will buy the best part for twice the price, 80% will buy whatever is best value for money, and the last 10% will buy whatever is cheapest (percentages made up), the trouble is when you are in the business of semiconductor manufacture, and you have tweaked your process to 99.98% yield with 0.02% tolerances, over 80% of the parts coming off the line are topend parts

  • by G3ckoG33k ( 647276 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @08:27AM (#34675216)

    Thanks for the link - psst, don' tell anyone else or else AMD will stop it

  • Why don't they just make the 6970 better and make 6970 be the top number, and make that a little better?

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Monday December 27, 2010 @12:13PM (#34676664)

    When I worked for a hardware company, we built one basic chip and different boards used a different BIOS. In theory you could have installed a BIOS from the fastest cards --- if we hadn't blown fuses in the chip to prevent that from working -- but the high performance boards used the chips which had been proven to work reliably at those clock speeds with all components enabled, while the lower performance boards either didn't check out at the highest clock speeds or didn't pass all the hardware tests so some parts of the chip were suspect and had to be disabled.

    So in our case if anyone had managed to get a different BIOS working on the chip and work around the blown fuses, odds are it would be flakey or simply refuse to work.

  • until AMD issues a DMCA takedown notice.

"Everyone's head is a cheap movie show." -- Jeff G. Bone