Radeon HD 6950 Unlocked to Radeon HD 6970 via Software

The extra units are shown in the red rectangle. Image courtesy of TechPowerUp

There’s always an intense emotion of satisfaction when you are able to “overclock” (make it run faster than it is supposed to) a computer or a graphics card because you feel like you’ve paid less for what you are now getting. And some AMD Radeon HD 6950 owners might soon experience that feeling (at their own risks – you’ve been warned) by flashing the firmware of their cards. By doing so, select users will unlock extra internal processing units, currently dormant: an additional 128 (for a total of 1536 ) to be accurate. The performance boost is somewhat in line with the extra horsepower.

How is this possible to start with? For many reasons, a graphic chip can have disabled units. It could be that the manufacturer wanted to offer a product at a lower price point by (artificially) lowering the performance, or it could also be that the unit was simply be defective and thus it was disabled. The chip is then sold under a lesser-performing model name.

Manufacturers also allow enabling/disabling computing units by software because it allows them (and other people like reviewers) to simulate the performance of a whole “top-to-bottom” family of graphics card, without having to physically “swap” the boards in and out. It’s also great for internal debugging…

Either way, you should know that eventually, the manufacturer is likely to come up with a new physical chip that doesn’t contain the extra units, but sells under the same name. That’s because the graphics card maker sells you a “performance level”, regardless of how this performance is produced.

Knowing this, if you feel like you want to jump (again, at your own risk) and try this, there’s a nice stop-by-step page that explains it all here. Happy unlocking!

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