X1800 GTO unlocked to 16 pipelines

HKEPC has discovered an interesting fact (in Chinese, translate here) about ATI's Radeon X1800 GTO graphics card: while advertised as a 12 pipeline part, it's possible to unlock some cards to 16 pixel pipelines by flashing them with a Radeon X1800 XL BIOS. This is no surprise, since the X1800 GTO and X1800 XL both use the same R520 core, but such unlocking is not always successful. HKEPC flashed five HIS X1800 GTO IceQ3 samples with the BIOS from an X1800 XL, and all cards remained stable through burn-in tests. The site claims 90% of early HIS samples can be flashed, as well. As one might expect, the reflashed cards offer better performance than stock X1800 GTOs, with 3DMark 2006 scores rising from 3306 to 3745 at 1280x1024. This puts the unlocked X1800 GTO at roughly the same level as the X1800 XL, which scored 3684 in our own testing with a slightly slower system.

While these preliminary tests certainly bode well, the success rate for currently shipping X1800 GTO cards is a mystery. For the adventurous among us, HKEPC provides a zip file at the bottom of the article page with the necessary tools to unlock X1800 GTO cards. Naturally, users are advised to exercise extreme caution, as this procedure will void a card's warranty and may render it inoperable.

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