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By svl7AMDs professional mobile GPUs (FirePro M Series) use the same hardware as their gaming equivalent (Mobility Radeon HD Series)
The difference lies in the VBIOS and in the specialized driver. This allows to simply change a 6970m into a FirePro M8900 by simply flashing the appropriate VBIOS and installing the corresponding driver:
(UPDATE: This also works with the 6990m, see the update at the end of the post)
The advantage of the FirePro card lies in the better CAD and DCC performance, optimized OpenGL support, OpenCL features and AMD Eyefinity technology.
In short: The card gets optimized for professional applications instead of games. A 6970m is very well capable of CAD work and a M8900 can still play games, but their performance is optimized for other tasks, and this can make quite a difference. A game uses a GPU differently than CAD software. For example you don't need a high frame rate when designing something with CAD software, but it's crucial that the rendering of your work is accurate and detailed.
So if you have a 6970m and need to use professional software once in a while you might want to give this a try. I haven't installed any CAD software on my system at the moment, but the driver seems to work properly, haven't seen any issues so far.The procedure doesn't take long, you only need to flash the VBIOS, uninstall your gaming driver and install the professional one.
You can use the M8900 driver of the Dell Precision M6600 workstation, you'll find it at the Dell drivers page. Maybe you find a more recent driver on the AMD homepage.
Here are some screenshots of the Catalyst Pro Control Center, you'll probably notice some features which aren't available with the Radeon HD cards:
I've done this with my Sapphire 6970m, it'll definitely work with the Dell 6970m as well and it's save to assume that this is true for the Clevo/Eurocom version too.
Since there are some changes in hardware IDs you'll need to force the flash.
This should work just as well when your system has a FirePro M8900 and you want to optimize the gaming performance - simply flash the 6970m VBIOS and install the regular driver and you're done.
The Dell 6970m VBIOS can be found in this post.
Also a big thanks to @Star Forge for providing the VBIOS of the FirePro M8900!!
Here's a 3dMark Vantage run with after applying the soft mod to the 6970m, everything at stock, also in the CPCC. Not too bad imo, same pretty much the same as the stock run I did when I got the 6970m in April.
Would be interesting to see some gaming comparisions... but I haven't installed any games atm.
EDIT: For M17x r3 users: You need to modify the driver, otherwise it won't install here the instruction, a big thanks goes to @devillucifer for investigating this problem and finding a solution.
When I come around to do so I'll post a link to a modified driver so you don't have to modify them yourself.
Detailed guide for flashing the VBIOS:
This also works with the 6990m. Note that the M8900 VBIOS has the same clock speeds as the 6970m, so the 6990m is actually underclocked with this VBIOS. You can easily overclock it with software or modify the clocks of the VBIOS before flashing, so that you're back at 6990m speeds. But even at standard clocks the 6990m performs better than the M8900 or 6970m, the card has 120 additional shaders which will bring a little performance boost as you can see in the screenshot below, I about 1000 points more on the GPU score compared to the 6970m flashed with the M8900 VBIOS (at the same clocks).
By svl7Did some tests with the VBIOS of the AMD 7970m, here's what I've got so far:
- Overvolting: So far no success, when I increase the 3d voltage the card simply stays at the 2d profile. Fixed that
Be aware that overvolting should only be done by experienced users and can seriously harm your GPU, shorten the life of its components and lead to unsuspected effects and / or system instability. I take no responsibility for any possible damages.
Overvolting has been tested by me and @widezu69 (thanks!). It works, but can lead to instability, you need to find your limit. The M15x doesn't handle it well. I noticed similar behaviour as with my overvolted 6970m, drops in clocks, instability etc. At 1.15V even immediate crash at GPU load.
The M17x R3 seems to handle it a bit better, there's probably more headroom in the voltage supply circuits which are providing the voltage for the GPU.
I was able to run some vantage tests at 1Ghz with a 0.05V overvolt, my previous core clock limit was at about 950Mhz... so it definitely works. Different systems will behave in different ways, only way to find it out is to test it. Don't do it if you lack overclock experience.
- Undervolting: Only did some quick tests, but it seems to work. The driver crashed all the time at clocks which normally worked fine. And at more sane clocks the card worked as expected. - Update: Yes, works very well
- Core / memory clocks: Works fine so far, I only tested the 3d settings, but I assume it also works for the other clock profiles.
In the GPU-Z screenshot you can see the changed clocks:
There's quite a bit of work behind this, so just in case you want to buy me a beer...
Here's a list of what the package contains. The names are pretty self-explanatory.
"uv" for undervolt, "ov" for overvolt, clocks are "core-memory"
Keep in mind that you need to rename the files before flashing due to the 8 character file name limit in DOS.
Modified clocks: Dell7970m-900-1250.ROM Dell7970m-925-1300.ROM Dell7970m-940-1350.ROM Dell7970m-940-1400.ROM Dell7970m-950-1350.ROM Dell7970m-950-1400.ROM Undervolted: Dell7970m-uv-0950v.ROM Dell7970m-uv-0975v.ROM Dell7970m-uv-1000v.ROM Overvolted: Dell7970m-ov-1125v.ROM Dell7970m-ov-1150v.ROM Overvolted & modified clocks: Dell7970m-900-1300-ov1075v.ROM Dell7970m-900-1300-ov1100v.ROM Dell7970m-950-1400-ov1100v.ROM
All files are based on the OEM Dell 7970m VBIOS.
For flashing refer to this guide:
There's a list with the checksums of all files included in the VBIOS package, I highly recommend to check the integrity of the file before flashing it. This can easily be done with ATIflash, if you don't know how please check the guide linked above.
And as always, flash on your own risk, you are responsible for your system and the changes you make on it.
Feel free to ask questions, feedback is welcome as well!