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AMD expands Radeon HD 6900 graphic card line-up

Two more graphics cards with 1GB of video memory

Nearly a month ago AMD has presented second generation of DX11-compatible discrete graphics cards targeted at high-end segment — AMD HD Radeon 6900-series — HD 6970 and HD 6950. Both models are based on Cayman die.

Though there are some differences in SP and TMU numbers as well as stock core/memory clocks between these models, this can be easily fixed by HD 6950 BIOS mod (read more here). Shortly after it was discovered AMD has published the following comment:

A number of news sites have reported on an apparent vBIOS flash that effectively turns an AMD Radeon HD 6950 into an HD 6970. While we do include two discrete BIOS ROMS and a BIOS switch for the purpose of trying new BIOS when they are made available, AMD does not endorse the use of the unsupported vBIOS’ on the AMD Radeon HD 6950 as this may lead to unstable performance and/or subsequent failure of the product which is not covered under warranty.

Moreover, AMD takes action to prevent this from happening and prepares a revised version of Radeon HD 6900 series graphic card PCB. As it was explained, new PCB will have different VRM and power elements.

Currently, cards are based on Voltera DrMOS components. AMD could not build new card on TI DrMOS due to shortage of the latter, which was said to be the main reason for several delays of the actual Radeon HD 6900 series announcement. Therefore, new PCBs might have those TI DrMOS chips after all. However, we think, the main reason of PCB upgrade is to block the opportunity to unlock performance config of HD 6950 to get fully operating HD 6970 card.

Meantime, AMD are preparing 1GB versions of HD 6900-series cards. (note: originally both models are equipped with 2GB of high-clocked GDDR5 vRAM). Memory cut version of HD 6950 graphic card is intended to fill the price gap between HD 6870 (MSRP $230) and 2GB HD 6950 (MSRP $300). On the other hand, new models will bring more competition for the upcoming NVIDIA GTX 560, that is believed to bee in lower that $300 price segment too.

Despite the gap between 2GB HD 6900 cards being quite small to fit another card, AMD are going to release 1GB variant of HD 6970 too. We’ll just have to wait and see how that works. Again, Radeon HD 6900 graphics cards with 1 GB of memory on-board, are most likely to have those revised PCBs.

Besides that, one of the largest AMD’s partners HIS has already reveled some details on 1GB version of HD 6950.

It looks like the amount of memory is the only difference for HIS HD 6950 1GB GDDR5 to have, well, apart from custom design of the cooling system. So the mains specs remain the same: 1408 SPs, 88 TMUS, 800MHz/5000MHz for GPU/Memory clocks, two CFX headers and same set of video output connectors with the support of all corresponding technologies (Eyefinity, EyeSpeed, AMD HD3D, etc.).

As for the prices, recently 1GB HD6950 card made by Sapphire, has been caught in retail for approximately 240 €. To compare, the price for 2GB version is 260 €, while Radeon HD 6870 cost about 220 € at the same store. It is clear that card is located right in the middle of price gap as expected. However, there is no information whether it uses new version of PCB or not.

Time will tell. Stay tuned!

Updated on 19/01/2011

AMD has officially confirmed the release of 1GB version of Radeon HD 6950 with MSRP of $279 that was recently though to by the price for Radeon HD 6950 1GB, however, there is still no words on the later model. The release of Radeon HD 6950 1GB is set to be the same time NVIDIA launches GeForce GTX 560 graphic card — around 25th January.

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