AMD Radeon HD 7950 Boost review: 7950 with a turbo

What does the new BIOS bring?

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Introduction

If you've followed the news (hardware-related news, that is) in the past week, you couldn't possibly have missed the announcement by AMD that they've made a new BIOS available. This new BIOS is specifically designed for Radeon HD 7950 cards, and adds a native turbo mode to them. The reason for this update is that a certain competitor will release a graphics card later today that is going to give the 7950 a run for its money. Obviously, you will read all about that new card on Hardware.Info later today. In order to see what it is that the new card is up against when it is launched, we've looked at the differences between de original Radeon HD 7950 and the new and improved Boost model.


In order to be prepared for the graphics card that will arive at the scene later today, AMD has changed the specifications of the HD 7950. They've done this by means of a BIOS update, which gives all reference design HD 7950 cards a core clock speed of 850 MHz instead of the 800 MHz that was standard until now. In addition, PowerTune Boost can force the clock speed up even further, to 925 MHz. According to AMD, this results in a 15% performance increase, and should give AMD the confidence it needs to go head-on with the Nvidia card outed at 2 pm this afternoon.

AMD Radeon HD 7950
AMD increases the Radeon HD 7950's clock speed. Should we see this as a sign that AMD fears the competition? 

The BIOS update will be available for all Radeon HD 7950's manufactured after mid August. If you already have a HD 7950 in your computer, it is possible to flash the new BIOS on the card. As far as we know, a failed BIOS-flash isn't covered by the warranty that comes with a graphics card, so this is something you probably need to consider and verify before you start the procedure. The new BIOS for the HD 7950 is available for download at TechPowerUp. Follow this link to download the file.

Note, however, that the new BIOS only increases the clock speed of the GPU. This means that the memory clock speed and the number of active shader units remain the same. If you're planning on carrying out the BIOS update, remember to set the switch to '1' though, as the other one prevents writing data to the card.

Owners of a non-reference Radeon HD 7950 can't do anything with the update. They'll have to wait until the manufacturer of their card provides them with a new BIOS of their own. The more sensible approach in that case would be to overclock the card yourself. We have never seen a 7950 that couldn't handle a continuous clock speed of 925 MHz. 

GPU-Z screenshot before and after the BIOS update (Source: Techpowerup)

The table below lists the differences between the original 7950 and the new one:

Algemeen
 
MerkAMDAMD
ProductnaamRadeon HD 7950Radeon HD 7950 Boost
ProductcodeRadeon HD 7950Radeon HD 7950 Boost
DetailsProductinfoProductinfo
Specificaties
Chip-codenaamTahitiTahiti
InterfacePCI-Express 3.0 x16PCI-Express 3.0 x16
Geheugen3072 MB3072 MB
Kloksnelheid - Chip800 MHz850 MHz
Kloksnelheid - Chip (Boost)925 MHz
Kloksnelheid - Geheugen1250 MHz1250 MHz
Geheugencontroller384 bit384 bit
Type geheugenGDDR5GDDR5
DirectX versieDirectX 11.1DirectX 11.1
Vertex Shader versie5.15.1
Pixel Shader versie5.15.1
Unified shaders1792 shading units1792 shading units
Extra power-connector
Type power connector(s)2x PEG62x PEG6
Chip - Transistors4300 mln4300 mln
Chip - Productieprocédé28 nm28 nm
SLI compatible
Crossfire compatible
Geïntegreerde H.264 videodecoder
Geïntegreerde VC-1 videodecoder


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