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Radeon 9800 SE to Radeon 9800 Pro Mod Guide
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So What Makes This Card Moddable?

First, I should brief you on how the Radeon 9800 SE came to be. This will show you exactly why this card is moddable.

The R350 core is actually manufactured by TSMC. But instead of two different cores - one with 4 pipelines and one with 8 pipelines, TSMC only makes one type of core - the 8 pipeline core.

However, there is no such thing as a perfect yield. A variety of factors like dust impact will make a number of chips on each wafer non-functional. Large chips like the R350 are particularly susceptible to such problems. Yields may be poor, producing many defective chips per wafer.

But instead of throwing away those defective chips, ATI disables four of the eight pipelines in each chip. This converts many of defective chips into functional albeit crippled chips. ATI sells these 4-pipeline chips as the 9800 SE. Such chips are NOT moddable because their pipelines are physically flawed. Any attempts to restore the disabled pipelines will result in unacceptable visual artifacts.


The Loophole!

Fortunately, TSMC's R350 yields have improved a lot since they first started making the R350. This means more R350 chips with 8 pipelines will meet the grade. But that's not what makes the 9800 SE moddable. If ATI has its way, all 9800SE will only consist of defective chips.

However, ATI has to acquiesce to market forces. If demand for 9800 SE VPUs is high, ATI has to remark and sell fully functional R350 chips as the 9800 SE. But these remarked chips are physically no different from fully functionaly R350 chips.

Now, these are the moddable chips! Although four pipelines have been disabled by ATI, they can be re-enabled with no visual artifacts.

To the card manufacturers, however, all 9800 SE chips are the same. Whether the 9800 SE chip is physically flawed or merely crippled for the market, they go right into Radeon 9800 SE cards.

But that makes a world of difference to us. It means there is a whole bunch of Radeon 9800 SE cards out there that can be modded into Radeon 9800 Pro cards!

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