A very well known graphics overclocker who went to work for AMD, Sami Mäkinen, has sent us some official comments on our “out of spec” 6850 samples story posted here. Sami works for AMD Tech PR these days.
This is what AMD said officially:
“Apparently a small number of the AMD Radeon HD 6850 press samples shipped from AIB partners have a higher-than-expected number of stream processors enabled.
This is because some AIBs used early engineering ASICs intended for board validation on their press samples. The use of these ASICs results in the incorrect number of stream processors. All boards available in the market, as well as AMD-supplied media samples, have production-level GPUs with the correct 960 stream processors."
Of course, the easiest is to blame it on someone else, but we also like to go on conspiracy theory side and believe that AMD set the final shader number after it shipped first 6850 samples, and some simply didn’t get the new bios that will keep the shader number to 960.
Update: AMD has contacted us again: "Your assumption wrt BIOS is simply not accurate. In fact a BIOS update can not fix these early ES ASIC boards to operate according to 6850 spec." So much for special BIOS dreams, it's all in the hardware it seems.