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AMD Helping to Bring Smart Access Memory to Nvidia GPUs

AMD
(Image credit: AMD)

Since the announcement last month of AMD's Smart Access Memory, a feature that allows AMD CPUs to access all the VRAM in a Radeon GPU; many were concerned the feature would only work within AMD's ecosystem. Fortunately, this will not be the case. AMD is opening up compatibility to both Intel and Nvidia platforms.

Last week, Nvidia confirmed it's working  with Intel to get a feature similar to AMD's Smart Access Memory working on its own graphics cards. Nvidia said the feature is very easy to implement, since it's baked into the PCIe specification. Specifically, the spec is called Resizable BAR Capability. 

Since then, AMD stated in an interview with PCWorld that its Radeon group is working with Intel to get this feature supported with RX 6000-series GPUs and Intel's latest CPUs and motherboards. The same goes with AMD's Ryzen group, which is working with Nvidia to get Smart Access Memory working with GeForce GPUs. 

For now, we don't know how customized AMD's approach is with its current Ryzen 5000 CPUs, X570 motherboards and RX 6000 GPU pairings. If AMD did a lot of hardware-level optimization, that could give AMD's CPUs , GPUs and relevant motherboards better performance with this feature over Intel and Nvidia's more standardized implementation.

AMD also stated in the PCWorld interview that this feature simply isn't a "toggle switch" you can just turn on. There will be a good chunk of development and optimization required to get good performance gains from the feature. So for now, it looks like AMD is in the lead with Smart Access Memory, as it is already developed and optimized for Ryzen 5000 CPUs and RX 6000 series GPUs. We'll see how long it takes for Intel and Nvidia too long to catch up.

  • Kamen Rider Blade
    I like this co-operative side of doing things.
    Reply
  • drea.drechsler
    Quote from article:

    "AMD stated in an interview with PCWorld that its Radeon group is working with Intel to get this feature supported with RX 6000-series GPUs and Intel's latest CPUs and motherboards. "
    So why can't AMD work with AMD to get it supported on AMD's motherboard's and CPU's? Namely, B450/X470 and 3rd Gen Ryzen.
    Reply
  • TJ Hooker
    Admin said:
    Since then, AMD stated in an interview with PCWorld that its Radeon group is working with Intel to get this feature supported with RX 6000-series GPUs and Intel's latest CPUs and motherboards. The same goes with AMD's Ryzen group, which is working with Nvidia to get Smart Access Memory working with GeForce GPUs.
    In the video they're talking about future hypothetical. I.e. if Intel/Nvidia want to support SAM, AMD will work with them if/when that happens. Not that they're currently working on it with them. Small but important distinction IMO. That's how I interpreted it anyway.
    Reply
  • TJ Hooker
    drea.drechsler said:
    Quote from article:

    "AMD stated in an interview with PCWorld that its Radeon group is working with Intel to get this feature supported with RX 6000-series GPUs and Intel's latest CPUs and motherboards. "
    So why can't AMD work with AMD to get it supported on AMD's motherboard's and CPU's? Namely, B450/X470 and 3rd Gen Ryzen.
    Maybe it's a PCIe 3.0 vs 4.0 thing? Although whether that's a real limitation, or an artificial one that AMD is creating, I have no idea. On paper it sounds like resizeable BAR shouldn't require 4.0 though...
    Reply
  • tiggers97
    Hmm... I wonder if in exchange AMD gets some help implementing DLSS as a standard...
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    tiggers97 said:
    Hmm... I wonder if in exchange AMD gets some help implementing DLSS as a standard...
    No, they'll get help getting SAM working on Intel boards for their video cards.
    Reply
  • clsmithj
    drea.drechsler said:
    Quote from article:

    "AMD stated in an interview with PCWorld that its Radeon group is working with Intel to get this feature supported with RX 6000-series GPUs and Intel's latest CPUs and motherboards. "
    So why can't AMD work with AMD to get it supported on AMD's motherboard's and CPU's? Namely, B450/X470 and 3rd Gen Ryzen.
    or simply work with all of Ryzen, it should benefit Ryzen 1000 and 2000 as well as Ryzen Threadripper 1000-3000.
    Reply
  • drea.drechsler
    tiggers97 said:
    Hmm... I wonder if in exchange AMD gets some help implementing DLSS as a standard...
    I'd have to imagine that, if 'doable', it could be done by paying appropriate licensing fees that would necessarily increase cost of Radeon GPU's that implement it, similar to SLI on motherboards and G-Sync on monitors. I'd much rather AMD implement something of their own that relies more on open standards.

    As I'm understanding it, the thing about SAM is it is just an implementation of an open standard built into PCIE specificantions and doesn't require licensing a proprietary innovation. This is similar to FreeSync that relies on open display interface standards in the HDMI spec.
    Reply
  • TechLurker
    drea.drechsler said:
    Quote from article:

    "AMD stated in an interview with PCWorld that its Radeon group is working with Intel to get this feature supported with RX 6000-series GPUs and Intel's latest CPUs and motherboards. "
    So why can't AMD work with AMD to get it supported on AMD's motherboard's and CPU's? Namely, B450/X470 and 3rd Gen Ryzen.

    Probably a combination of incentives and stability purposes.

    Incentives being NVIDIA and Intel agreeing to help pay for some validation work and support on the latest-gen chipsets and CPUs. AMD would get $$$ from both on helping them iron out any kinks between Ryzen+NVIDIA and Intel+Radeon, as well as whatever $$$ for support (especially if Windows or a BIOS update breaks something).

    Stability would be validating down the product stack and ensuring that as many combos as possible does NOT result in an issue. Going by the wording, it sounds like NVIDIA and Intel are also limiting SAM to newer components first, although NVIDIA mentioned they would like to bring the feature as far back as the 900 series.

    Personally, AMD should at least validate down to Ryzen 3000/4000, 400 series Chipset, and Polaris 400/500. That would cover a sizable portion of their product stack and also provide a bit of a boost to their long-running GPU lines. Moreso since they were producing Polaris until recently (using up their GloFo agreements), and those have been pretty solid starter GPUs. Ideally, they should validate all the way back to Ryzen 1000 and 300-series chipsets, but I could see where they might not want to touch the 300-series motherboards more due to mostly being PCIe 2.0 limited and BIOS limitations (not to mention; would also have to provide semi-official Ryzen 5000 support if they actively update 300-series chipset BIOS instead of leaving it entirely to the mobo vendors to deal with). If they can at least validate all the way back to the Ryzen 2000 series and the 1600 AF and 1400 AF, that would be a great value proposition.
    Reply
  • Gomez Addams
    drea.drechsler said:
    I'd have to imagine that, if 'doable', it could be done by paying appropriate licensing fees that would necessarily increase cost of Radeon GPU's that implement it, similar to SLI on motherboards and G-Sync on monitors. I'd much rather AMD implement something of their own that relies more on open standards.

    As I'm understanding it, the thing about SAM is it is just an implementation of an open standard built into PCIE specificantions and doesn't require licensing a proprietary innovation. This is similar to FreeSync that relies on open display interface standards in the HDMI spec.
    That's right and it (Resizable BAR Capability) has been part of the specification since v2.0, 2008.
    Reply