The Sapphire Radeon HD 6990
Sapphire package their 6990 in a box which looks similar to many of their other products, the two models on this packaging signifying the dual GPUs we assume. Inside the bundle can be split into two sections, the standard items which include an invitation to Sapphires excellent Select Club and a CrossFire bridge. The second batch of items are DisplayPort converters which we will look at later.
Shown above is the Sapphire 6990 with its heatsink artwork which differs from the reference design however the rest of the card is identical. In the centre is a single red cooling fan and this is a 12" card with a black, metal backplate on the rear which lets us see the location of the two GPUs as well as the single CrossFire connector which will allow us to join two cards together.
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Term Of Sociology One of the first things that AMD/Sapphire were keen to tell reviewers was that the 6990 is designed not to be taken apart. The reason for this is that AMD are using a new thermal material between the GPUs and the vapor chamber heatsinks which sit on top of each. When warmed for the first time this new thermal material changes phase and should the cooler be removed it will never perform at the same level, instead we would need to re-apply different paste.
For outputs on this card we have a layout which has more in common with custom 5970 Eyefinity designs than any previous AMD reference models. We have a single DVI connector and beside this are four mini-DisplayPorts. This choice of outputs has two impacts, firstly it allows Sapphire to bundle various connectors for DVI, full size DisplayPort and HDMI. Then secondly the main result is a wide range of connectivity options for Eyefinity which include 5×1 portrait layout. For power inputs the Sapphire 6990 has two eight pin connectors and hidden away, next to the Crossfire connector, in a similar way to the 6950/6970 is a small BIOS switch.
On those older products this switch was intended for recovery of bad flashes by enthusiasts. On the 6990 AMD and Sapphire have expanded on this, knowing that the card would be used by high end users. With the switch in position 2 we have a card which uses a BIOS clocked at 830MHz core (1250MHz memory) with the GPU receiving 1.12v. On position 1 the card is clocked at 880MHz core with 1250MHz memory and the GPU gets a bump to 1.175v to enhance overclocking potential with AMD’s press slides stating 990MHz+ as achievable.
In terms of other specifications we have a card with 3072 stream processors, 192 texture units, 64 ROPS and each GPU has access to 2GB of memory (256-bit bus) for a total of 4GB. The card fully supports PCIe 2.1, DirectX 11 and DirectCompute along with acceleration of high definition content and AMD’s latest image quality optimisations such as morphological anti-aliasing which we saw on the 6950/70 previously. Finally, the 6990 can output 7.1 audio over HDMI including DTS Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD.