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The R9 290 -> 290X Unlock Thread

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post #21 of 4158 (permalink) Old 11-16-2013, 02:54 PM
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Hi all!
I find this situation about unlockable and not unlockable cards to be very interesting.
I think the main unlock indicator is PCI ID change (from 67B1 to 67B0). It may be a driver who reads this ID and further locks out some of cores.

Why only Powercolor and some XFX are unlockable so far is very strange.

To make things a little more understandable, I'd like to ask to add some more information about the cards you try to unlock:
1. Its VERY interesting to see a result of flashing the real 290X card with stock 290 BIOS. All 290X cards should lock to 67B1 ID. It would be very strange if 290X will not change its ID. Since the cards are dual BIOS and of the same reference design, I consider its a safe experiment, but I don't have any of 290 or 290X in hands now. If would be wonderful if someone with 290X will try that.

2. Please post a details of your stock BIOS 290 (non-X) together with unlock results - is it the same as listed on techpowerup?

3. Post some lot numbers, production date or serial numbers from XFX cards, both unlockable and non-unlockable. Its possible what only a specific batch of 290 chips is unlockable and card's manufacturing date is the key. The photo of chip's face would be the best, so if you're going to watercooling please make chips photos. Chip marking and date could be meaningful.

There are some theories possible why some cards are unlocked but others don't:

- The worst: some batches of 290 cards may be populated with 290X chips due to shortage of real 290 chips. Doubtful, but still possible.
- A little bit better: some (the very first?) batch of 290 chips was HW protected somehow from ID change, but later chips were not protected to simplify production process.
- The best: there are some difference in boards (like tiny bootstrap jumpers or even resistors like used by NVIDIA). 290 boards must have somewhat different set of bootstraps, but some manufacturers may omit the changes to simplify production. If so, it would be possible to find a difference between 290 and 290X boards and fix it to unlock these not unlockable cards.

If the most of chips have HW locked ID, the lock should be added at the very last stage of manufacturing. Of course, if they indeed test & select 290 / 290X chips basing on chip quality. It shouldn't be possible to run real tests on uncut die or bare crystals because of enormous power dissipation. Chips should all be ready to use and mounted on their BGA substrates to be heatsinked for testing. That leaves only surface methods of HW locks like laser cutting or jumper strapping. So far I saw nothing like that on chip photos.

Will the unlocked cores indeed do their work is another question. Being known bad or untested, extra cores could drive the chip to instability or provide erroneous computational results. For games that's not so bad, so I'f you're not going to use unlocked card for GPGPU it should be safe. The other possible side effect is increased power consumption, but power controls should easily counter it.
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post #22 of 4158 (permalink) Old 11-16-2013, 03:18 PM
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Dumb question: If a 290 can be unlocked to a 290x, is it physically the same as a 290x then? And therefor have no difference in performance?
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post #23 of 4158 (permalink) Old 11-16-2013, 03:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by youra6 View Post

Looks like so far, only cards to have unlocked are PowerColor and XFX cards (and 1 Sapphire card).


Could you link the Sapphire card, I was under the impression no Sapphire cards unlocked, thanks smile.gif
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Dumb question: If a 290 can be unlocked to a 290x, is it physically the same as a 290x then? And therefor have no difference in performance?

Yes

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post #24 of 4158 (permalink) Old 11-16-2013, 03:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astonished View Post

Dumb question: If a 290 can be unlocked to a 290x, is it physically the same as a 290x then? And therefor have no difference in performance?

290 is the same chip as 290X with the some of the cores turned off. Cores are turned off for marketing purposes and to increase yield. Due to high CPU parallelism chip design enables you to take "partially working" chips, turn off poorly working cores and sell for lower price instead of wasting it.
This possiblity makes possible to get lower prices for both fully working and "partially working" chips.

Performance will be different for the fully enabled and locked chips.

As for the card's board - AMD reference boards looks to be the same.
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post #25 of 4158 (permalink) Old 11-16-2013, 03:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astonished View Post

Dumb question: If a 290 can be unlocked to a 290x, is it physically the same as a 290x then? And therefor have no difference in performance?

As stated, it could be physically the same card, but if the locked cores in the 290 are not fully functional/unstable, you won't be getting any extra performance. If they are fully functional and locked just to market a lower-tier product, then you will most likely be able to get a 290X out of a 290. This is all luck, though you may see a trend depending on the early findings of this thread.

This is similar to when AMD's dual core Phenom II CPUs (Phenom II 555) could be fully unlocked to the 955 (Quad core). If the cores were fully functional, then you went from a dual core to a quad core for free. If the cores did not work or were unstable, you would be stuck with the dual or partially locked tri-core CPU.

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post #26 of 4158 (permalink) Old 11-16-2013, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Forceman View Post

If anyone knows of a good shader dependent benchmark we can use to verify these, please post it. I tried ShaderToyMark and Compubench but there aren't a lot of scores to compare to.
Wouldn't pretty much any GPGPU program work for this? For example:
http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2321772

Note that due to the short amount of time to completion on modern high-end GPUs, a width upscaling amount of 800% or even 1600% may be better.

EDIT: Though that program apparently uses the CPU quite a bit even with GPU acceleration, so it itself may not be the best choice.

EDIT 2: However it's very possible that the difference in amount of GPU shaders would still make a noticeable performance difference. We won't know unless someone tries. wink.gif (I'm on a lowly 8800GS, so I certainly can't test it). At the very least it would mean that absolute performance cannot be compared to other people but the relative performance difference between locked & unlocked very well could be.

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post #27 of 4158 (permalink) Old 11-16-2013, 03:47 PM
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Could you link the Sapphire card, I was under the impression no Sapphire cards unlocked, thanks smile.gif
Yes

 

Someone put their name into the spreadsheet. Thought the spreadsheet was for successful unlocks only.

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post #28 of 4158 (permalink) Old 11-16-2013, 03:49 PM
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I was able to unlock an XFX also, with Elpdia memory.

R9 290 bios @ 55% fan speed.


R9 290 bios flashed, download clock to r9 290 speed 947mhz/[email protected] 55% fan speed.


R9 290 bios flashed, run @ r9 290x speed 1000mhz/1250mhz @ 55% fan speed.


Bios flashed screen information
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post #29 of 4158 (permalink) Old 11-16-2013, 03:52 PM
 
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Hmm... I may have to pick up an XFX or Powercolor 290 then... do the majority of them unlock?
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post #30 of 4158 (permalink) Old 11-16-2013, 03:54 PM
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It would be nice if AMD silkscreened their GPUs so we could tell of it was actually 290X cores that are unlocking or just 290s that weren't properly disabled. But a blank GPU doesn't help. Is there anything else to differentiate the 290X PCB or core from a 290 one? Maybe a code or something on the PCB?

Forceman's Law: Any AMD/Nvidia GPU thread, no matter what the topic, will eventually include a post referencing the GTX 970.
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