AMD Rolls Out New HD 7950 BIOS, Expects Existing Customers to Look the Other Way
Sam Reynolds — August 13th, 2012

AMD today pushed out a BIOS update for its Radeon HD 7950 line of cards, but only for reviewers — for the time being.

The company says the updates to this refreshed BIOS will in many ways mirror the style of update delivered to the 7970: apparent performance boosts, new features, and an increased clock speed to 850MHz base/925MHz with “Boost” (compared an original base speed of 800MHz).

While AMD’s public affairs corps want this to be seen as being inline with industry standards, the optics of AMD’s play read as a bait and switch as, reportedly, these clock speeds aren’t even available on all products (let alone the ones already in the channel) and AMD itself doesn’t guarantee that it will work. AMD is cautioning users to do the update only if the card has a dual BIOS switch.

The market has reached out to five of AMD’s major North American board partners, which have all stated that any customer flashing this BIOS to their HD 7950 will immediately void their warranty should the BIOS switch be incorrectly set during the update. As such, AMD and by extension their board partners are recommending that existing customers not use this update.

As per AMD, new versions of the 7950 should be hitting shelves with this BIOS update — and thus a putative speed increase of approximately 15% — as of this week pending the support from AIBs. The caveat? These new cards will have no new rebranding. Customer confusion is bound to ensure.

So why now and why even bother when there are plenty of HD 7950 cards that are already clocked at 900MHz and higher without a so-called “Boost” feature?

Let’s take a leap backwards in time to the days after the GTX 670′s NDA was lifted.

In an effort to muddy the market’s turbulent waters, AMD introduced an updated “reference” design of the HD 7970 right before their competition’s product became available. The HD 7970 GHz Edition was supposed to be a “new” reference design that sported some updated features, even though 1GHz-clocked SKUs were widely available. In truth, that “launch” sputtered out before it even got off the ground. The few cards supporting the new features became available more than a month later and the faster clock speeds were mostly tacked onto premium, non-reference designs that cost more than some were willing to pay. One even nailed the shocking $699 price point and was then quickly discontinued.

True, things have picked up since then with HD 7970 cards clocked at 1GHz becoming more widely available. But even to this day, there’s no way of distinguishing a pre-overclocked HD 7970 from a GHz Edition.

Now it seems like AMD is trying the same thing yet again, right before the launch of a competitor’s card that promises to beat it in the price / performance category. Hopefully, this time the card maker will meet with more success but as the old addage goes: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

SKYMTL contributed to this report.