A software developer has released a pair of tools, CUInfo and AtomTool, which together are claimed to allow at least some Radeon R9 Fury cards to unlock deactivated compute units to boost performance to equal the R9 Fury X.
As with all semiconductor manufacturers, AMD has turned the issue of differences in the quality of finished chips into a core part of its business: while many of its CPUs, APUs, and GPUs are identically designed and produced on the same silicon wafers, the company runs through a 'binning' process which grades their quality and looks for defects. The chips that pass with flying colours make their way into top-end hardware; those with defects have the faulty portions deactivated and get placed in lower-grade devices. It's a process that minimises waste, but can sometimes lead to supply issues: as the production process improves, chip quality rises across the board and fewer defects are found. The result in these cases is that chips without defects are artificially downgraded in order to fulfil a quota of lower-end parts.
Naturally, in the case of an artificially degraded part it is theoretically possible to reverse AMD's work and unlock the disabled hardware - and a Russian software developer going by the name 'tx12' has posted tools to the Overclock.net forum
for doing exactly that. The first tool, CUInfo, is designed to read out information about active and disabled compute units in all Hawaii, Tonga, and Fiji graphics processors. It also attempts to identify the differing types of lock-outs: hardware locks and software locks.
Using AtomTool, tx12's second utility, it's possible to override these locks in order to reactivate the hardware. Taking the BIOS image currently installed on the card, the tool patches the file to produce three variants: two which activate only some of the disabled compute units, and one for those lucky few with a defect-free chip which activates all of the available compute units - turning a cheaper Radeon R9 Fury into the more expensive R9 Fury X at no cost.
The developer of the software warns that all use of the tool is at the user's own risk, but advises that a bad flash should be reversible through using the dual-BIOS feature of modern graphics cards to revert back to the original, unmodified BIOS.