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Can We Turn A Radeon HD 6570 Into A FirePro V3900?

FirePro V3900: Entry-Level Workstation Graphics
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FirePro V3900 Vs. Radeon HD 6570

AMD's FirePro V3900 and Radeon HD 6570 have similar PCBs and the same Turks chip, which begs the age-old question: Can the consumer card be converted? Once upon a time, you could flash a gaming card's BIOS with a workstation board's firmware and the driver would be none the wiser. So, we decided to try the same thing here.

We obtained a consumer-grade card with similar technical specifications and a closely matching PCB layout from HIS. The only differences are a modified cooler and an added analog video connector. Other than PCB color, the cards look very similar up front.

The backs do too. 

The FirePro V3900's memory is clocked 100 MHz faster. Just to be safe, then, we tested the Radeon's RAM overclocked to 900 MHz to make sure it'd take the higher frequency without stability issues. Most other on-board components are not only running at the same speeds, but are even the same make and model.

The V3900's PCB is manufactured by Oriental Printed Circuits Ltd. Some AMD retail partners merely relabel their cards. HIS' board, however, is manufactured by Sheng Hua Electronics (Hui Yang) Ltd.

BIOS Mod

After establishing that the two cards feature similar hardware, we flash the Radeon HD 6570 in DOS using a copy of the FirePro V3900's BIOS. Although the PC boots and Windows launches, AMD's Catalyst Pro Control Center doesn't recognize our counterfeit. Evidently, we'd need to do a bit more software hacking to get this to work.

Even though modding the drivers by patching a few bytes in the right spots (editing the SSID and Subsys entries) gets the card recognized, this breaks the overclocking tool and hardware-based video acceleration. It even causes a performance hit in DirectX 9 through DirectX 11. Although we do see an increase in OpenGL performance in a few applications, we don't consider the hack to be worth the problems it introduces.

Bottom Line

Gone are the days, it seems, of joining two on-board bridges, or simply re-flashing a firmware to turn a gamer-oriented board into a professional-level card. We were able to soft-mod our Radeon HD 6570, turning it into a FirePro V3900, though side-effects were introduced in the process. Rather than comparing our hobbled Radeon to the FirePro, we flashed the desktop card back to its original BIOS and allowed it to compete on its own merits, allowing us to contrast AMD's mainstream and professional driver packages instead. Since the cards are almost identical, aside from a 100 MHz difference on the memory, any significant performance gap is going to have to be attributable to software-based optimizations.

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