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Radeon HD 6950 shader unlock instructions

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May 24, 2011 3:24:17 AM

Since I have not yet seen a good instructional guide on how to unlock the shaders of the Radeon HD 6950's, I figured I'd write a guide of my own. Be aware that this process does entail some risks and is not for everyone.

By now, we have all see loads of posts about how to flash the 6970 bios onto a 6950 card. This is the first guide I believe most of have seen: http://www.techpowerup.com/articles/overclocking/vidcar...

After following the discussion thread, it was learned that some people had been damaging their video RAM after continuous use. It is a small amount, but even a small amount is not good. I believe it was rui0317 who came up with a method to alter a few numbers in the bios that would unlock the shaders, but not alter anything else in the bios. This meant the video ram timings, fan profiles and clocks are all left alone. W1zzard packaged it up in a nice batch file to help modify a BIOS to unlock the shaders. I found that here: http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1371...

I have personally used the following method on an XFX 6950 reference model, and an MSI R6950 Twin Frozr II which doesn't have a bios switch, and does not function with a reference bios. Others are having success with this method without the dual bios switch and with or without reference boards.

Step 1) Download ATI Winflash: http://www.techpowerup.com/downloads/1919/ATI_Winflash_... (The newest version has been reported to not work).
2) Install winflash in the root directory (i.e. C:\winflash)
3) Download the script to modify the bios and extract it: www.techpowerup.com/wizzard/Mod_BIOS_HD_6950.zip
4) If you have a BIOS switch, set it to the 1 position (switched towards the back of the card)
5) Run ATI Winflash, click "Save" to save your BIOS, be sure to make a copy of this and save it some where safe in case some thing goes wrong.
6) Make a copy of the saved BIOS and rename the copy to "original.bin"
6.a) If you cannot see the file extensions, you need to open the Folder Options in the control panel and uncheck the option "Hide extensions for known file types"
7) Copy the "original.bin" file to the script folder "Mod_BIOS_HD_6950"
8) Execute the "run.bat" batch file
9) Look in the folder "Mod_BIOS_HD_6950" and copy the file "modded.bin" to the folder you installed ATI Winflash in (C:\winflash)
10) Open up the command prompt (Start->All Programs->Accessories) you may have to right click and run as adminstrator
11) Change to the ATI Winflash directory with the command "cd C:\winflash" or what ever directory you saved it in
12) Type "atiwinflash -unlockrom 0" (the "0" stands for the first PCIe card installed, "1" will work for the 2nd card)
13) Type "atiwinflash -f -p 0 modded.bin" (the "0" stands for the first PCIe card installed, "1" will work for the 2nd card)
WARNING: do not turn off your computer until step 13 is completely finished.
You should have successfully installed the modified BIOS. You will see a window pop up to say it was verified and ask you to reboot if everything went as planned.
14) To verify that you succeeded in unlocking the shaders, use GPU-Z and look to see that you have 1536 Unified shaders.

If your system becomes unstable after you reboot, you'll have to reflash the original saved BIOS back onto the card following steps 10-13 and using the "original.bin" BIOS in place of "modded.bin".

If you cannot boot from this card and have the dual BIOS switch, switch it to the number 2 position, and boot up and right before you flash the original BIOS back, flip the switch to the number 1 position.

If you don't have a dual BIOS switch and you cannot boot up from the card, remove the card from your system, install it in a 2nd PCIe slot and install a working card in the first slot. You can then boot up from the first card. After you boot up, you can install the drivers for the 1st video card but not for the one that you just attempted to modify the BIOS on. Do not reboot if requested. Now follow steps 10-13 using the "original.bin" BIOS you saved and using "1" in place of "0" for the commands you type. The "1" is so that the 2nd card is flashed and not the 1st card which is not the one you wish to flash. Be very careful to use "1"s and not "0"s this time, because the card is no longer in the 1st PCIe slot.

If you still have trouble, boot in safe mode, open up the device manager and uninstall the bricked card from the list of display adapters. Reboot into windows and you should not be able to flash the card back to it's original BIOS. (I bricked my XFX 6950 reference card and tested that I could recover from a bricked card, and I could. I had the dual BIOS switch had things gone wrong, but this was a good test incase you do this without a dual BIOS switch).

Good luck, but please be careful and be aware of the risks involved in modifying your BIOS.
May 26, 2011 7:41:12 PM

For those with an MSI R6950 Twin Frozr III Power Edition, I was shown that the MSI came up with a special BIOS that not only unlocks the shaders, but unlocks their max clocks in CCC.

http://www.vortez.net/articles_pages/msi_r6950_twin_fro...

I decided to test to see if it would work with a their Twin Frozr II version, and it did, but it is not MSI recommended to do so, so do it at your own risk.
Related resources
May 26, 2011 8:16:20 PM

17seconds said:
Guru3d published this all-in-one kit for the full bios flash, which includes: Winflash, both 6950 and 6970 bioses, and GPU-Z.
http://downloads.guru3d.com/Radeon-HD-6950-to-HD-6970-F...

Their discussion thread with detailed instructions is here:
http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?t=335318


That method is a riskier method, much like the original. You are flashing a 6970 bios on top of a 6950 card. The instructions I posted above does not flash a 6970 bios onto a 6950 card. It alters your existing BIOS by changing 2 bytes worth that determine how many shaders you have. Most people are aware and can find those instructions. However, those don't work on non reference cards (the above instructions do however) and the entail more risk, since you are changing timings, clocks and fan profiles.
May 30, 2011 12:46:20 AM

This works for my Twin Frozr 2. Don't believe the naysayers. Thanks.
May 31, 2011 4:28:44 PM

dinzy said:
This works for my Twin Frozr 2. Don't believe the naysayers. Thanks.

which method did you use?
May 31, 2011 4:56:42 PM

yessir_1984 said:
which method did you use?


I have personally done the methods in the first 2 posts (matt's method does not work on a twin frozr II).
June 1, 2011 3:55:22 PM

yessir_1984 said:
which method did you use?


I used the mod bios method to unlock the shaders on my Twin Frozr II. Then I just OC'ed it using MSI afterburner using the unnoficial overclock mode.
June 4, 2011 4:52:21 PM

It seems that MSI took down the download for their specially altered MSI Twin Frozr III PE OC cards. I still have the download, but I have no where to host it. If anyone wants to host it for me, let me know.
June 5, 2011 4:02:06 PM

I got a Rom Programming Failure trying to use the newest version of atiwinflash for the process on my Twin Frozr ii. Using the version in the OP link worked though.

Just a FYI for those going to try it.
June 7, 2011 3:20:05 AM

Wondering if there is a kind soul willing to send me via email a copy of a clean BIOS backup from the Twin Frozr II using atiwinflash. I tried a different program and the backup I made with it (AtiFlash) is not taking. Im am hoping that possibly a backup rom created using atiwinflash and restored using atiwinflash could do the trick.
If anyone is willing to do so,
I would be eternally grateful.

-ng
June 7, 2011 4:33:07 AM

nightg0at said:
Wondering if there is a kind soul willing to send me via email a copy of a clean BIOS backup from the Twin Frozr II using atiwinflash. I tried a different program and the backup I made with it (AtiFlash) is not taking. Im am hoping that possibly a backup rom created using atiwinflash and restored using atiwinflash could do the trick.
If anyone is willing to do so, I would be eternally grateful.

-ng


It's not necessary to email. There is a database of the bios on TechPowerUp.

Here is the database: http://www.techpowerup.com/vgabios/

This is the MSI Twin Frozr II OC: http://www.techpowerup.com/vgabios/95881/MSI.HD6950.204...

June 10, 2011 3:50:44 AM

So if I am understanding this right the method in the op will work on a MSI R6950 Twin Frozr II OC and not just a 
MSI R6950 Twin Frozr II?
June 10, 2011 4:02:15 AM

m-audio said:
So if I am understanding this right the method in the op will work on a MSI R6950 Twin Frozr II OC and not just a 
MSI R6950 Twin Frozr II?


It should work with any 6950. It just alters the existing bios.
June 10, 2011 4:13:49 AM

Any one by chance have link to a video of any kind?
  Just for reference,This would be my first time trying a gpu alter also thank's for your speedy reply.
June 11, 2011 6:10:36 PM

this does not work on the sapphire hd6950 2GB with no bios switch. i have the same card with the bios switch and it is no problem flashing it. the new version is apparently hardware locked. a shame!
June 11, 2011 6:11:51 PM

hachem said:
this does not work on the sapphire hd6950 2GB with no bios switch. i have the same card with the bios switch and it is no problem flashing it. the new version is apparently hardware locked. a shame!


In what way does it not work. Were you able to follow the directions and it just didn't unlock the shaders, or did a step fail?
June 11, 2011 6:20:02 PM

the process under command.com just stops with no info whatsoever, or i get the unable to erase rom error under atiwinflash. i have tried both methods, the one with hd6970 bios and the modded bios. i had first the card in the 2nd slot, but putting it in the first did not help either.
June 11, 2011 6:27:03 PM

hachem said:
the process under command.com just stops with no info whatsoever, or i get the unable to erase rom error under atiwinflash. i have tried both methods, the one with hd6970 bios and the modded bios. i had first the card in the 2nd slot, but putting it in the first did not help either.


There may be an issue with the latest atiwinflash version as noted by a poster above. Maybe you need to give the old software a try.

Quote:
I got a Rom Programming Failure trying to use the newest version of atiwinflash for the process on my Twin Frozr ii. Using the version in the OP link worked though.


June 11, 2011 6:38:02 PM

i have no idea what y'all mean with "op link". tried downloading atiwinflash 1.08, nut it does not run: missing critical file! a link would be much appreciated. may i say "much obliged" before i leave the building? :) 
June 11, 2011 6:44:20 PM

hachem said:
i have no idea what y'all mean with "op link". tried downloading atiwinflash 1.08, nut it does not run: missing critical file! a link would be much appreciated. may i say "much obliged" before i leave the building? :) 


I believe what he was saying was to use the 2.0.1.13 version.

The link I provided has the option to download, or choose the latest version. The version listed here worked for me and him: http://www.techpowerup.com/downloads/1919/ATI_Winflash_...
June 11, 2011 6:54:41 PM

same results as with the latest version. looks like sapphire is gonna win :) 
June 12, 2011 3:38:51 PM

Is there any list out there of what cards can and cannot be unlocked? I am thinking of trying the HIS H695FN2G2M from Newegg.
June 12, 2011 3:43:16 PM

dinzy said:
Is there any list out there of what cards can and cannot be unlocked? I am thinking of trying the HIS H695FN2G2M from Newegg.


If the chips are being laser cut now, as it was suspected, then it's quite possible none will be able to be unlocked. If it's because my directions aren't well written enough or these that have failed are a result of bad luck (there is always a chance the shaders don't function), it could be all are able to be unlocked.

I'm starting to wonder about the laser cut shaders now.
June 12, 2011 4:04:44 PM

The laser cutting was reported ages ago, what's to wonder about?
June 12, 2011 4:28:56 PM

Mousemonkey said:
The laser cutting was reported ages ago, what's to wonder about?


I heard they were "planning", but people kept being able to. However, it does sound like the well is drying up.
June 12, 2011 4:40:32 PM

bystander said:
I heard they were "planning", but people kept being able to. However, it does sound like the well is drying up.

The people who were still able to unlock cards probably had cards that were on the shelf before the laser cutting came into effect.
June 12, 2011 5:35:12 PM

Mousemonkey said:
The people who were still able to unlock cards probably had cards that were on the shelf before the laser cutting came into effect.


Part of the reason I'm not as sure as you are, is some of those who are having troubles are having troubles with the flashing step. It shouldn't matter if the shaders are lasered off or not, flashing should still be possible.
June 12, 2011 5:58:24 PM

bystander said:
Part of the reason I'm not as sure as you are, is some of those who are having troubles are having troubles with the flashing step. It shouldn't matter if the shaders are lasered off or not, flashing should still be possible.




forgive me if i say that this is an easy but unsubstantiated position. the only way for you to prove it would be by showing us how to flash a card that others have found unflashable. otherwise it is but a cheap shot.
June 12, 2011 6:26:51 PM

hachem said:
forgive me if i say that this is an easy but unsubstantiated position. the only way for you to prove it would be by showing us how to flash a card that others have found unflashable. otherwise it is but a cheap shot.


I'm not meaning to take shots and the fact that I can't physically work with your cards leaves me to only be able to speculate, but the truth is, all cards of any vendor or model should be able to be flashed.
June 12, 2011 6:32:09 PM

Simple question, the reference card has 2Gb of RAM, no? Can the 1Gb model be dealt the same way?
June 12, 2011 6:33:47 PM

ionut19 said:
Simple question, the reference card has 2Gb of RAM, no? Can the 1Gb model be dealt the same way?


Yes. The directions on the first post work with either.

Back to me previous posts thought. Is it possible that rather than lasering the shaders, they are putting in read only bios, like the backup bios with the cards that have a switch?
June 12, 2011 6:34:43 PM

like i said before, i own 2 sapphire hd6950 2GB, one with, and the other without a bios switch. i was able to flash the first one, and all my trials to flash the second one have failed. so, i agree with you that all cards "should be able to be flashed". but that is exactly the issue, it it not?
June 12, 2011 6:36:38 PM

hachem said:
like i said before, i own 2 sapphire hd6950 2GB, one with, and the other without a bios switch. i was able to flash the first one, and all my trials to flash the second one have failed. so, i agree with you that all cards "should be able to be flashed". but that is exactly the issue, it it not?


Ya, I'm wondering if they are putting in read only bios on these cards. It can obviously be done, the reference card has a read only bios which gives an error if you try to flash on it, and one that is writable.
June 13, 2011 4:59:17 PM

Well I ordered the HIS card I mentioned above from Newegg. I was thinking of getting another TF2, but my curiosity got the best of me.

Where is this supposed laser cut supposed to be taking place? They are still fabbing 1 chip for both models, is AMD requiring it's partners to add a manufacturing step to the card production itself or are they having the step added in packaging the chips at TSMC? ( I forget if they are still made at TSMC or if they switched to GloFo and have no clue if TSMC packages the chip or has it done at a packaging house) My point here is that there is a cost. AMD knew this and they simply opted for a software solution to start with.

The read only bios is an option, and actually a good strategy. No RMAs for cards bricked by flashing with ref 6970 BIOS.
June 13, 2011 5:12:36 PM

dinzy said:
Well I ordered the HIS card I mentioned above from Newegg. I was thinking of getting another TF2, but my curiosity got the best of me.

Where is this supposed laser cut supposed to be taking place? They are still fabbing 1 chip for both models, is AMD requiring it's partners to add a manufacturing step to the card production itself or are they having the step added in packaging the chips at TSMC? ( I forget if they are still made at TSMC or if they switched to GloFo and have no clue if TSMC packages the chip or has it done at a packaging house) My point here is that there is a cost. AMD knew this and they simply opted for a software solution to start with.

The read only bios is an option, and actually a good strategy. No RMAs for cards bricked by flashing with ref 6970 BIOS.



sounds very plausible, but if it is a software solution, then it should be possible to bypass it... but not with the methods shown until now?
June 15, 2011 10:52:18 AM

last news: i am bringing the new sapphire back, i was in time to make use of my right to do that. not only is has ni dual bios, and the bios it has is not flashable, the cooler is different also. it is much noisier that that of the original one.
but what is more interesting are the following figures from the heaven benchmark 2.5:

the system is a i7 920 oc'ed @ 3.6Ghz to avoid cpu bottlenecks:
graphic card in normal settings:
fps: 39.4
score : 986
min fps: 20.5
max fps: 85.5

as hd6950 with core @1825 and memory @ 1300:
40.1
1016
21.2
88.9

with all shaders unlocked (1536) and 821Mhz core and 1295Mhz memory
(not exactly the same, but close enough)
40.1
1010
21.4
87.8

my conclusion: DON'T BOTHER! just use the normal settings and overclock in the normal way when needed. i am still giving the second card back though. it is simply of less quality than the first one.


June 15, 2011 11:16:55 AM

those are the last figures with exactly 825Mhz core and 1300Mhz hemory:
40.6
1023
24.1
91.8
i did not try going beyond that because i know that at those settings the card runs stable and secure. and the power wast set @ +20% just to play safe. less would probably work also.
June 15, 2011 1:56:14 PM

For those who want to overclock their cards beyond the factor limits, I have some instructions on how to do so through MSI Afterburner.

Go to the MSI Afterburner program folder, and open the MSIAfterburner.cfg file. Look for these 2 lines:
UnofficialOverclockingEULA =
UnofficialOverclockingMode = 0

Edit them to:
UnofficialOverclockingEULA = I confirm that I am aware of unofficial overclocking limitations and fully understand that MSI will not provide me any support on it
UnofficialOverclockingMode = 1

Now just reopen MSI Afterburner, and the factory limits will be gone. Please be responsible and don't try to overclock to high settings without first attempting small incremental increases.
June 15, 2011 2:18:34 PM

hachem said:
last news: i am bringing the new sapphire back, i was in time to make use of my right to do that. not only is has ni dual bios, and the bios it has is not flashable, the cooler is different also. it is much noisier that that of the original one.


I am confused. You say the Bios is not flashable yet you also say you can unlock the shaders. Which is it?
June 15, 2011 3:55:52 PM

dinzy said:
I am confused. You say the Bios is not flashable yet you also say you can unlock the shaders. Which is it?

read what came before that. i already had a sapphire hd6950, with dual bios, flashable.
June 15, 2011 4:48:12 PM

could somebody give us a few figures of his/her card before and after flashing? because i am really confused now. i cannot see any noticeable difference between flashed or not.
June 15, 2011 5:08:35 PM

Most tests I've seen done show about a 3%-5% increase from unlocking the shaders alone. You might try testing with 3dmark11. Not all benchmarks are the same.
June 15, 2011 5:18:06 PM

well, the trouble is that it does not seem worth all the trouble: a 5% difference would be hardly noticeable during gameplay. sure if it means the difference between more or less than 30fps, it might just be noticed, but otherwise it is only theoretically interesting.
June 15, 2011 10:14:53 PM

+3% here:

June 16, 2011 12:36:49 AM


this confirms what Bystander has said, and my own experience.
BTW, i just ran heavendx11 with 8x anti aliasing and that cut the figures in half!
the problem is that i could not detect any difference in the quality of the frames, only the rate/speed. apparently, with the quality of graphic cards being what it is, it remains to be seen if AA can play a role at all! I also ran the benchmark on a hd6450. as you can imagine, the fps did not get above the single digit/,but hen again, the quality of the pictures was the same as with the hd69650: it just lacked the juice to produce a decent fps!
June 16, 2011 11:56:40 PM

OK so I have 2 twin frozr ii and I was able to unlock shader on both of the cards.
So I am guessing this will work with all twin frozr ii cards :o  unless I just got lucky with both cards which is highly unlikely.
That means if you are having trouble doing this method of unlock it's human error and not just the twin frozr ii cards.
June 17, 2011 2:15:51 AM

The HIS card does not unlock via this method. It acts like it is flashing yet no change. I bet there is a way to flash it, they probably just shorted a line.
June 17, 2011 2:40:02 AM

The HIS card is suppose to be unlock and the twin frozr ii is not suppose to be unlock makes no sens.
!