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AMD Radeon HD 6970 and 6950 Review - The Cayman Architecture Revealed

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: AMD

Radeon HD 6970 and HD 6950 Reference Cards

The new Radeon HD 6970 and HD 6950 look very similar to the 6800-series of cards and share the same vapor chamber based cooler design. 

The Radeon HD 6970 is the new highest performing single-GPU graphics card from AMD, overtaking the HD 5870. 

Radeon HD 6970 Specifications

The HD 6970 utilizes the full Cayman GPU with 1536 stream processors and 24 SIMD units.   There are 96 texture units compared with the 56 found on the HD 6870 Barts design.  Both memory speed and raw computing power see nice performance jumps over the HD 5800 series of parts and the move to a 2GB frame buffer is not complete.  The "typical" gaming power is at 190w though I don't know exactly how they determine that.  Most notable is the 250w maximum power limit that the PowerTune technology will be enforcing. 

Both the front and back of our reference cards look identical to the 6800-series reference designs and are easily taken apart. 

The Radeon HD 6970 does require an 8-pin and 6-pin power connection as it can top out at some high levels of power draw. 

The HD 6900 cards will both support CrossFireX solutions but also have a small switch on the top that has a terrific function:
Though AMD says they do not condone flashing the BIOS on your graphics card, they realize many users are doing it so this safety switch should prevent anyone from accidentally killing their card in the process. 

The fan on the HD 6970 is still pretty quiet despite the power increases.

The display output that we saw introduced with the HD 6800-series continues here with a pair of DVI outputs (one dual-link, one single) as well an HDMI output and dual mini-DisplayPort connections. 

The Radeon HD 6950 has the same length PCB and looks identical except for the minor branding.

Radeon HD 6950 Specifications
The HD 6950 removes two of the SIMD units and 128 total stream processors bringing the total down to 1408.  Texture unit and ROP count remain the same and while the 256-bit memory bus is also intact, the speed drops just slightly to 1.25 GHz.  Both typical and maximum board power are lowered by 50 watts though I am not sure if this is done to differentiate the products or because of different thermal limits on the binned GPUs. 

The HD 6950 has the same CrossFireX and BIOS flashing utility on-board. 

Unlike its bigger brother, the HD 6950 only requires a dual 6-pin power configuration.

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