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Firmware upgrade unlocks 128 extra shaders

Mod upgrades AMD Radeon HD 6950 to HD 6970

A tech enthusiast site has unveiled details of a firmware modification to the recent AMD Radeon HD 6950 graphics card which effectively turns it into the more expensive Radeon HD 6970.

The practice of producing cheaper versions of video cards with the same actual silicon on board but with sections of the chips ‘locked’ is fairly common and hacks to unlock the extra capabilities have appeared in the past. TechPowerUp.com revealed that just such a modification is possible for AMD’s brand new high performance video card, the Radeon HD 6950.

TechPowerUp pointed out that ordinarily such locked silicon parts are altered by on-die ‘fuses’ which irreversibly disable sections of the chip but it the site claimed that all currently shipping Radeon HD 6950s were using an alternative mechanism of locking out the extra shaders via firmware BIOS alone, paving the way for a firmware update unlocking the performance of the higher end card.

The site also made available a set of files and batch scripts in order to perform the firmware modification. Enthusiasts will also be hearted that AMD’s new video cards feature a backup BIOS feature which enables starting the card in a default BIOS in case of some error with flashing or otherwise a failure of the mod to work correctly.

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