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[Softmod] AMD 6970m -> FirePro M8900 *UPDATE* 6990m works too!

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AMDs 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)

post-80-14494991752812_thumb.jpg

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:

post-80-14494991752016_thumb.jpg

 

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.

 

NOTE:

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.

post-80-1449499175308_thumb.jpg

 

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.

Spoiler
 Originally Posted by devillucifer
________1st Step_______

It's really simple, 
all you had to do is download the Orca Msi editor ! or InstED


then download any Catalyst package !
Unload it into any folder you like,
Go to that folder > packages > Drivers > Display > W76A_INF (W7INF if you use windows 32bit)
inside you will see the setup info :
*.cat
*.inf 
*.msi 
and a folder Bxxxxxx 


> use notepad to edit inf file, and Orca or InstED to edit the msi install shield file.
Quote

Device ID : 6720
Vendor : 1002
Subsystem ID : 04A4 = Fireprom8900, [Dell] 6970m = 04BA
Subsystem Vendor ID : 1028


if your ur card's subsystem id already matched no need to mod the driver.

 

inside the inf file : 
Look for the line of Firepro m8900 
change it into 


"AMD (ATI) FirePro M8900 (FireGL) Mobility Pro Graphics" = ati2mtag_Vancouver, PCI\VEN_1002&DEV_6720&SUBSYS_04BA1028

inside the msi file :
Look for the tables of "ATI ASIC Include"
change SS ID into "0x04BA"

 

Now you can use AMD installer to install the driver or install it via system device.


*If you wanted to install Catalyst control 
Do the same with all the msi files inside 
Packages > Apps > CCC2
This Control center will lower 1 or 2 FPS if you plan to playing game with it.


_______________Bonus_____________


if you wanted to try the new openGL 4.2 
(which unlocked 230 extensions instead of 210 from dell driver)
Try install the preview driver 8.880.8.0 
go to windows > syswow64 > atioglxx.dll > backup this file, then rollback to m8900 driver 
and replace the new atioglxx.dll with the backup atioglxx.dll


Pro : boost up openGL benchmark score, 
Con : Not many application can use openGL 4.2 


_______________The END_______________

 

 

Detailed guide for flashing the VBIOS:

Spoiler

You need a bootable DOS USB drive, if you don't know how to create one, check out this guide:

Creating a bootable DOS USB drive (by Brian K)

Quote

Step 1: Download all the following files as they will be needed throughout this guide.

1. Download the HP USB Key Utility: HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool - v2.1.8 Download - EXTREME Overclocking

2. Download the Windows 98 system files: Windows 98 System Files Download - EXTREME Overclocking


Step 2: Creating a Bootable USB Drive to Flash to GPU

1. Install the HP USB Key Utility

2. Launch the HP USB Key Utility and do the following:
- Insert your USB thumb drive.
- Select File system as "FAT32"
- Select Format Option as "Create a DOS bootable Disk..."
- Checkmark the box that says, "Quick Format"
- Locate the directory you extracted the Win98 files.
- Format the USB key using the the Win98 files.

 

Copy the VBIOS from the attached archive to the root of your bootable DOS drive. You'll also need a copy of ATIflash on the stick in order to flash the file.


Before you flash make a backup of your original vbios. You can use GPU-Z or ATIflash to do this.

Then:

-Plug in your prepared USB drive
-Make sure your system is plugged in (AC adapter and to be safe battery as well)
-Reboot
-When you see the Alienhead press [F12] to get to the boot menu, choose "Boot from USB"

A command prompt will appear.

I recommend making sure the file you want to flash didn't get corrupted while downloading, extracting and copying to the stick.
Validate the vbios by looking up the BIOS checksum with this command:


atiflash -cf vbiosfile

 

-> In this case it would be "atiflash -cf M8900.bin"

The attached vbios has the checksum 0x8500 (when using ATIflash, in WinFlash it'll be 0x8900).


You'll need to force the flash with the following command:


atiflash -p -f 0 FILE

 

Note: FILE stands for the filename. Valid extensions are .rom and .bin. The name must contain more than eight characters.
An example: The file in the attached archive is called "M8900.bin", thus the command you have to use is:


atiflash -p -f 0 M8900.bin
Then restart your system and unplug the USB stick. You can use GPU-Z to verify the flash of the vbios.

 

 

UPDATE:

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).

 

cpcc 1 - home.JPG

 

6990m with m8900 vbios.JPG

 

UPDATE 1/17/16

DOWNLOAD FOR AMD FIREPRO M8900.ZIP HERE: 

 

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Simply awesome SVL7 not sure if I'll do it but incredible. Can you say games are improved to since "DCC performance, optimized OpenGL support, OpenCL features and AMD Eyefinity technology" is improved?

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No, gaming performance will decrease, the hardware gets used differently, not in a way optimized for games. Should still get a very decent performance though. Haven't installed a single game atm, so can't test it just now. Will see whether I can run a vantage or 3dM11 later to get at least some nubmers.

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Any idea if this will work for the 6990s?

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Any idea if this will work for the 6990s?

I think it'll work, the 6970m and 6990m are almost identical. I don't know whether the additional shaders would get used or not, but the card should work imo. (Though I can't say it for sure of course ;))

I addded a stock vantage run of the card.

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I would try flashing, but would be worried about bricking the cards :eek: Id be out some cash.

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Yeah, true...

Since I have the possibility to cold flash GPUs I don't have to think about a possible brick anymore... :)

In case you bricked your card I could easily send you a programmed flash chip, but you'd need to get it soldered on the card.

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I would try flashing, but would be worried about bricking the cards :eek: Id be out some cash.

I know same situation here.

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I suck at soldering :P Big time.

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I suck at soldering :P Big time.

If I can find a cheap pair of 6970m as spare I might try this since a warranty doesn't cover mods like that lol. Maybe if I got two 6990m for a steal. Or if I uprgrade to 7000 series next year i could mod the 6970's

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i got it working Svl7,

gotta thx Star Forge too :)

here mine ss,

still using 11.9 Catalyst tho' .. see the bios version and firepro settings :)

m89000nm17xr3.th.jpg

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edit :

btw you can use RBE to see the checksum (0x8900 for m8900, and 0xBE00 for 6970m)

After USB boot into DOS command,

use "Atiflash -cf" to check the checksum of the files u want to flash,

"Atiflash -cb 0" only check the checksum on the current card.

and -cf show 6970m as 0xBE00 instead of 0xB800, and m8900 as 0x8500 instead of 0x8900

Edited by devillucifer
sry double post !

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svl7! I see you finally succeed!!! :D Congrats! Also this is also good news for me as a M8900 user that I can also go and softmod it to a 6970M! I will try that out once I get my M6600 repaired in two weeks. +Rep to you svl7!

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svl7! I see you finally succeed!!! :D Congrats! Also this is also good news for me as a M8900 user that I can also go and softmod it to a 6970M! I will try that out once I get my M6600 repaired in two weeks. +Rep to you svl7!

Thanks Star Forge! I completely forgot to mention that I got the VBIOS from you...!! Thank you very much, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to do this!!

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I suck at soldering :P Big time.

If you ever brick your cards (for whatever reason) with a VBIOS flash, some electronic shops could do the soldering. Or you could still send me the cards, but the shipping costs are pretty crazy... But the advantage is that I have found a possibility to reflash cards without any soldering, so the card will still look perfectly, no signs of hand soldering. / desoldering. Only tested it with a 5870m so far, should work just as fine with other cards :)

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Do you know how long I have been waiting for this?

I love you @svl7 & Star Forge

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Hello svl7 & Star Forge,

I am new to the forum and I joined to find a way to do the softmod on my iMac 27 2011.

I am a technical illustrator and to achieve many of my designs often use CAD software like Solid Edge, SolidWorks, Inventor and 3DVIAComposer.

Your solution is spectacular for owners of personal computers that use mainly traditional Microsoft operating systems.

In my case I could still apply the changes to the BIOS, but lose the ability to restart in Mac OS X, since up to now there is no driver for the FirePro series (up to now, Apple does not install on their systems FirePro graphics cards).

I already tried in other forums, but I realized that if you do not have the updated patchscript compatible with the related driver, you have little chance of success.

Since I can not find suitable patchscript, I was wondering if you could give me some advice on how to find one or suggest a safe way to apply the method You described to flash back and forth (Win7 x64 > Mac OS X) without destroying the graphic chip (replace the iMac's graphics card could be very expensive).

Probably in my case I have to wait for the release of a new patchscript, however I also wanted to ask the opinion of a professional like You.

Latest AMD FirePro M8900 driver from Autodesk

8.83.5.3_Win7_A02_R304146

iMac 27 2011 specifications:

3.4GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7

16GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 4x4GB

1TB Serial ATA Drive

AMD Radeon HD 6970M 2GB GDDR5

Mac OS X Leopard 10.6.8

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 (Boot Camp 3.3)

I hope I was clear and I thank you again for the wonderful guide You wrote.

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not really working for me...

flashed bios fine, but firepro display driver will not install

any ideas?

post-111-14494991788773_thumb.jpg

Edited by kune

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Hello svl7 & Star Forge,

I am new to the forum and I joined to find a way to do the softmod on my iMac 27 2011.

I am a technical illustrator and to achieve many of my designs often use CAD software like Solid Edge, SolidWorks, Inventor and 3DVIAComposer.

Your solution is spectacular for owners of personal computers that use mainly traditional Microsoft operating systems.

In my case I could still apply the changes to the BIOS, but lose the ability to restart in Mac OS X, since up to now there is no driver for the FirePro series (up to now, Apple does not install on their systems FirePro graphics cards).

I already tried in other forums, but I realized that if you do not have the updated patchscript compatible with the related driver, you have little chance of success.

Since I can not find suitable patchscript, I was wondering if you could give me some advice on how to find one or suggest a safe way to apply the method You described to flash back and forth (Win7 x64 > Mac OS X) without destroying the graphic chip (replace the iMac's graphics card could be very expensive).

Probably in my case I have to wait for the release of a new patchscript, however I also wanted to ask the opinion of a professional like You.

Hmm, I'm no expert when it comes to Mac OS or generally spoken unix-like systems. Driver compatibility is still a common issue. There should be Linux drivers for the FirePro Series, but I never heard about Mac OS drivers.

Did you already try the mod with the Apple 6970m?

The regular 6970m have the same hardware ID as the FirePro M8900, this means it might be possible to use a regular Radeon HD driver with a M8900. I haven't tried this yet, my 6970m isn't in my system at the moment.

Can you check the hardware ID of your card? Post a GPU-Z screenshot, or a copy of your VBIOS.

In case the hardware ID is the same and the Apple driver works with the M8900 VBIOS there wouldn't be any need to flash the card all the time. Otherwise I can't really help, the only other way I can think of would be reflashing the card everytime you boot to another OS. Flashing is a quick process, but there's always a slight chance of failure... I never had issues with it, but there's no warranty that you never get any corruption while programming the VBIOS chip.

Another option would be a hardware mod, but you probably don't really want to do this. You could simply install a second VBIOS chip with another VBIOS on it and modify your card in a way that you have a switch which lets you choose between the two chips.

not really working for me...

flashed bios fine, but firepro display driver will not install

any ideas?

Yeah, it's a driver related problem, probably because of the integrated Intel GPU and related drivers. You need to modify the drivers and it should work, @devillucifer apparently found out how to mod it, hope he can pass some information about the process

EDIT: Check the post below for details... great work devillucifer! :D Added this to the first post!

Edited by svl7
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Try this, i didn't follow any guide just fooling around editting things

and somehow it worked lolz



download the Orca Msi editor ! or InstED



then download any Catalyst package !

Unload it into any folder you like,

Go to that folder > packages > Drivers > Display > W76A_INF (W7INF if you use windows 32bit)

inside you will see the setup info :

*.cat

*.inf

*.msi

and a folder Bxxxxxx (contains all the driver's files)



> use notepad to edit inf file, and Orca or InstED to edit the msi install shield file.



Quote:









Device ID : 6720

Vendor : 1002

Subsystem ID : 04A4 = Fireprom8900, [Dell] 6970m = 04BA

Subsystem Vendor ID : 1028



if your ur card's subsystem id already matched no need to mod the driver.




inside the inf file :

Look for the line of Firepro m8900

change it into

Quote:









"AMD (ATI) FirePro M8900 (FireGL) Mobility Pro Graphics" = ati2mtag_Vancouver, PCIVEN_1002&DEV_6720&SUBSYS_04BA1028




inside the msi file :

Look for the tables of "ATI ASIC Include"

change SS ID into "0x04BA"



Now you can use AMD installer to install the driver or install it via system device.



*If you wanted to install Catalyst control

Do the same with all the msi files inside

Packages > Apps > CCC2



This Control center will lower 1 or 2 FPS if you plan to playing game with it.



_______________Bonus_____________



if you wanted to try the new openGL 4.2

(which unlocked 230 extensions instead of 210 from dell driver)

Try install the preview driver 8.880.8.0

go to windows > syswow64 > atioglxx.dll > backup this file, then rollback to m8900 driver

and replace the new atioglxx.dll with the backup atioglxx.dll



Pro : boost up openGL benchmark score,

Con : Not many application can use openGL 4.2



p/s : im waiting for the new AMD APP SDK,

really need OpenCL support for VRAY RT

Vray RT GPU render with openCL
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Awesome, thank you very much!! +rep

Added this to the first post.

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Awesome, thank you very much!! +rep

Added this to the first post.

Glad i could help :)

@Enzino @kune :

I don't have Solidworks so i going to try with Specviewperf 11 (there are many test, included Solidworks)

Specviewperf11 - 1920x1080

fireprom8900specviewper.th.jpg

you can see how much performance gain by looking at these score from the original HD6970m and m8900

Kettya's specview11 benchmark (click version 11 tab for m8900 benchmark)

http://www.notebookcheck.net/AMD-Radeon-HD-6970M.43077.0.html

Original 6970m

SPECviewperf 11 - Catia 1920x1080

min: 5.34 avg: 6.9 (16%) max: 8.09 fps

SPECviewperf 11 - Ensight 1920x1080

min: 17.64 avg: 18.8 (48%) max: 19.46 fps

SPECviewperf 11 - Lightwave 1920x1080

min: 20.59 avg: 25.2 (46%) max: 29.34 fps

SPECviewperf 11 - Maya 1920x1080

min: 7.66 avg: 10.8 (12%) max: 13.22 fps

SPECviewperf 11 - Pro/ENGINEER 1920x1080

min: 1.45 avg: 1.9 (19%) max: 2.31 fps

SPECviewperf 11 - SolidWorks 1920x1080

min: 16.02 avg: 21 (39%) max: 24.63 fps

SPECviewperf 11 - Tcvis 1920x1080

min: 4.13 avg: 5.7 (14%) max: 6.81 fps

SPECviewperf 11 - Siemens NX 1920x1080

min: 9.25 avg: 9.9 (24%) max: 10.35 fps

compare with superior GPU : 6990m, GTX 580m, Quadro 5010m (beat quadro 5010 in solidworks), ... and the inferior quadro 1000m :)

comparewithothersuperio.th.png

Edited by devillucifer

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Even though it has no application for me, I've been following this closely, just wanted to say amazing work everyone!

@devillucifer - welcome to the forums, that's quite a contribution! +rep

@svl7 - finally managed to +rep you again :D

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@devilucifer thank you very much! Got it working.

Edited by kune

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      AMD's video opens with John Hampton, Director Computer Client Products, talking about how it is very important in choosing the right benchmark when evaluating a purchase because if you choose the wrong one , you can end up overpaying for technology or getting a lesser performing PC. To emphasize his point, he indirectly mentions Volkswagen's diesel debacle and uses the latter case as an example of how even established organizations can be misleading. 
       
      We are then introduced to Tony Salinas, an AMD Engineering Manager, who runs through a couple tests in SYSmark using two notebooks, one that has an Intel i5 CPU and the other with an AMD FX CPU. SYSmark returns a score of 987 for the Intel system and 659 for the AMD one which is a delta of 50%. AMD notes that this is misleading and not reflective of real life performance. To prove this, they run a different benchmark called PCMark 8 on both systems and the results show the Intel i5 system scoring 4199 and the AMD equipped one 3908 which is a delta of 7%. AMD says this is a far more realistic indicator of true performance as PCMark 8 tests the CPU, GPU and video subcomponents rather than emphasizing the CPU like SYSmark does.
       
      And just to drive the point home some more, AMD created their own in-house test using Microsoft Office Suite where they run a custom script on both notebooks and then measure the start and end of a task with a time stamp to gauge performance. Their in-house test shows the Intel system completing the task in approximately 61 seconds while the AMD based one finished it in roughly 64 seconds which is a delta of 6-7%.
       
      As AMD's results line up with those found with PCMark 8, they contend that PCMark 8 is a more fair and balanced indicator of overall performance while SYSmark is not and therefore should be discarded by any potential customers as a tool for evaluating a purchase. 
       

      Intel system using AMD in-house test: Test completed in ~61 seconds.

      AMD system using AMD in-house test: Test completed in ~64 seconds.
       
      They also take the time to remind us that the FTC has required SYSmark published benchmarks to contain fine print that notes their benchmark may only be optimized for Intel. Of course, this may have something to do with the fact that AMD resigned from BAPco consortium. Finally, AMD notes that a transparent benchmark should meet very specific criteria which includes being realistic, unbiased, objective and transparent, all of which SYSmark is not apparently. 
       

       
      While it's fun to see these types of videos from AMD, they also highlight the fact that the company is facing an uphill battle on all fronts, whether it's CPU or GPU, and 2016 may be the year that makes or breaks them.
       
    • AMD: Is SYSmark a Reliable Benchmark?
      By Brian
      We all love drama between technology companies and the latest deliciousness comes courtesy of AMD. They have a 4 minute video on YouTube that questions whether or not SYSmark is a reliable, objective benchmark to use when evaluating performance between different systems. 
       
      AMD's video opens with John Hampton, Director Computer Client Products, talking about how it is very important in choosing the right benchmark when evaluating a purchase because if you choose the wrong one , you can end up overpaying for technology or getting a lesser performing PC. To emphasize his point, he indirectly mentions Volkswagen's diesel debacle and uses the latter case as an example of how even established organizations can be misleading. 
       
      We are then introduced to Tony Salinas, an AMD Engineering Manager, who runs through a couple tests in SYSmark using two notebooks, one that has an Intel i5 CPU and the other with an AMD FX CPU. SYSmark returns a score of 987 for the Intel system and 659 for the AMD one which is a delta of 50%. AMD notes that this is misleading and not reflective of real life performance. To prove this, they run a different benchmark called PCMark 8 on both systems and the results show the Intel i5 system scoring 4199 and the AMD equipped one 3908 which is a delta of 7%. AMD says this is a far more realistic indicator of true performance as PCMark 8 tests the CPU, GPU and video subcomponents rather than emphasizing the CPU like SYSmark does.
       
      And just to drive the point home some more, AMD created their own in-house test using Microsoft Office Suite where they run a custom script on both notebooks and then measure the start and end of a task with a time stamp to gauge performance. Their in-house test shows the Intel system completing the task in approximately 61 seconds while the AMD based one finished it in roughly 64 seconds which is a delta of 6-7%.
       
      As AMD's results line up with those found with PCMark 8, they contend that PCMark 8 is a more fair and balanced indicator of overall performance while SYSmark is not and therefore should be discarded by any potential customers as a tool for evaluating a purchase. 
       

      Intel system using AMD in-house test: Test completed in ~61 seconds.        AMD system using AMD in-house test: Test completed in ~64 seconds.
       
       
      They also take the time to remind us that the FTC has required SYSmark published benchmarks to contain fine print that notes their benchmark may only be optimized for Intel. Of course, this may have something to do with the fact that AMD resigned from BAPco consortium. Finally, AMD notes that a transparent benchmark should meet very specific criteria which includes being realistic, unbiased, objective and transparent, all of which SYSmark is not apparently. 
       

       
      While it's fun to see these types of videos from AMD, they also highlight the fact that the company is facing an uphill battle on all fronts, whether it's CPU or GPU, and 2016 may be the year that makes or breaks them.
       

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