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AMD Preps Smart Access Storage To Accelerate SSD Performance

Ryzen Processor
Ryzen Processor (Image credit: AMD)

AMD is reportedly preparing a new technology for its Ryzen processors called Smart Access Storage (SAS), according to a VideoCardz report,. The concept behind Smart Access Storage is similar to Smart Access Memory (SAM) but aims to accelerate storage performance instead of graphics performance.

DirectStorage is why Microsoft's current consoles, such as the Xbox Series X and S, can offer gamers lightning-fast loading times. However, DirectStorage, an application programming interface (API) part of the DirectX family, eventually made its way to the PC. According to Microsoft, DirectStorage can reduce CPU between 20% to 40% when paired with an NVMe SSD and Windows 11. Given the name, Smart Access Storage could be AMD's take on DirectStorage, much like Smart Access Memory was to PCI Express Resizable BAR.

Unfortunately, details on Smart Access Storage are still very slim. We're unsure how AMD will implement the technology or the level of similarities that it has with DirectStorage. According to VideoCardz's source, the feature may debut on Corsair's Voyager "AMD Advantage" gaming laptop. AMD Advantage is a term that refers to a device that leverages AMD Ryzen processors and Radeon graphics. The publication linked Smart Access Storage with a gaming laptop, so it's unknown if it's an exclusive mobile feature like AMD SmartShift. We hope not since Smart Access Storage could do a lot of good on desktops.

Luminous Productions, the developer behind Forspoken, demonstrated the power of DirectStorage at GDC 2022 with a complex scene consisting of up to 20,000 files (4.5GB). The test system with an M.2 and SATA SSD loaded the scene in 1.9 seconds and 3.7 seconds, respectively, whereas a conventional hard drive took 21.5 seconds. So Smart Access Storage could be a game changer for AMD, assuming that its performance is up in the same ballpark as DirectStorage and even more so since Intel doesn't have an answer for it.

The Corsair Voyager reportedly sports a Ryzen 9 6900HX chip and Radeon RX 6800M graphics card. VideoCardz believes that Corsair will unleash the gaming laptop in June, meaning we could learn more about the laptop and technologies at Computex 2022. In addition, AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su will keynote Computex 2022. We'll learn more about AMD's "next generation mobile and desktop PC innovations," so Smart Access Storage appears to be on the agenda.

Zhiye Liu
Zhiye Liu

Zhiye Liu is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Although he loves everything that’s hardware, he has a soft spot for CPUs, GPUs, and RAM.

  • hotaru251
    The test system with an M.2 and SATA SSD loaded the scene in 1.9 seconds and 3.7 seconds, respectively, whereas a conventional hard drive took 21.5 seconds.

    means nothing w/o a baseline speed w/o the tech.
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    hotaru251 said:
    means nothing w/o a baseline speed w/o the tech.
    And from the other linked article, regarding DirectStorage:
    https://www.tomshardware.com/news/directstorage-reduces-forspoken-load-times-to-less-than-two-seconds"A 71% increase in SSD throughput in DirectStorage compared to Win32 only delivers a 0.2 second improvement (around 10%) in load times, reducing it from 2.1 seconds to 1.9 seconds. "

    0.2 sec diff, with vs without. weeee......
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    Oh boy, AMD is bringing Serial Attached SCSI to...

    Oh, not that SAS.
    Reply
  • hotaru251
    USAFRet said:
    And from the other linked article, regarding DirectStorage:
    https://www.tomshardware.com/news/directstorage-reduces-forspoken-load-times-to-less-than-two-seconds"A 71% increase in SSD throughput in DirectStorage compared to Win32 only delivers a 0.2 second improvement (around 10%) in load times, reducing it from 2.1 seconds to 1.9 seconds. "

    0.2 sec diff, with vs without. weeee......
    exactly.

    New tech generally pretty w/e early on.

    However in future when games get massive (compared to todays sizes) & the rate of data read/transfer gets high enough the tech will likely get more beneficial a kin to how we went from hdd to ssd times.
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    hotaru251 said:
    exactly.

    New tech generally pretty w/e early on.

    However in future when games get massive (compared to todays sizes) & the rate of data read/transfer gets high enough the tech will likely get more beneficial a kin to how we went from hdd to ssd times.
    Even now though...a decade after SSDs are commonplace...there isn't a lot of difference apart from benchmark numbers.
    Going from HDD to SSD, huge differene.
    The various flavors of SSD? Not so much.
    Reply
  • JayNor
    Any benefit for recording game play, or does Directstorage derive most of its benefits from decompression?
    Reply
  • Mandark
    when games get massive? lol, take a look at Red Dead 2, it's like over 80GB... i hate to burst your bubble but games are already huge. now you are probably talking star trek stuff, and nobody's gonna have that kind of power or bandwidth anytime soon
    Reply
  • abufrejoval
    Admin said:
    A new report claims that AMD is preparing Smart Access Storage (SAS) to accelerate storage performance on its Ryzen processors.

    AMD Preps Smart Access Storage To Accelerate SSD Performance : Read more

    I always have to laugh when someone mentions DirectStorage...

    One of our favorite games in the family is ARK Survival Evolved. It has lots of add-ons and maps available and has grown from just around 100GB initially to something like 400GB currently.

    But that's not the main issue: those 400GB are 150,000 files in 13,000 folders and evidently launching the game and a session needs to read/parse quite a few of them and perhaps rather randomly.

    Since it's so rather big, I put it on a Windows Server 2019 share with a RAID0 of SATA SSDs as a backend and felt confident that the 10Gbit network between the gaming workstations should be enough to carry the SSD performance over the network, especially since I tested this with a couple of VM images with dozens of GB each and reached the expected 1 GByte/s across the wire.

    But even if the network is fundamentally able to deliver the bandwidth, loading the game via the network still took ages longer than from a single local SATA SSD, which can also easily take some minutes. It was much slower than the local HDD loading that I wanted to replace with a shared pool instead of buying SSD storage for each PC. Could the SMB network add such drastic overhead?

    During a Linux Steam test session I didn't have an SSD available for storage, so instead I used a rather ancient 2TB HDD I had lying around. So when I launched the game under Linux, I didn't really expect that to come alive in less than 15 minutes or so: I wanted to have a look at the graphics.

    But in fact it loaded way faster than from the local SSD JBOD on Windows!
    Again, just in case you missed it: a lowly HDD on Linux beat a RAID0 of SSDs on Windows 2019 Data Center Edition!
    Unfortunately I didn't find the time to run the test with Linux as a file share host with Windows clients: that should have been really interesting!

    Opening something like 100k files to start a game may be somewhat extreme. Lots of games store maps in large files and perform much better. ARK evidently was designed from an EPIC template that involved a lot of small files even in the original Shooter Game, but grew "epic" with the wonderfully detailed and large maps they designed.

    Whatever Microsoft does when opening a file, the overhead adds up big time when you deal with hundreds of thousands. I don't know if they do virus scanning/blacklist-checking or have a really inefficient way of parsing the file system tree. But when you compare that with how Linux performs, the difference is orders of magnitude and I am shocked to see that a VMS successor could perform that badly.

    Gaming doesn't need a new storage API on Windows: it needs a different OS that is actually able to use the hardware that's already there efficiently. And somebody better tune file sharing, as that brings far worse performance than a local hard disk even with an SSD backend and a 10Gbit network, when lots of small files are involved: there must be dozens of synchronous latency intensive dialog packets, before the first file data actually goes across the wire. Large files easily saturate the 10Gbit network, small files bring it to a crawl even when you copy RAM cache to NVMe.

    I can only recommend Microsoft engineers repeat this easy (and fun!) benchmark using ARK and start profiling their code!
    Too bad the "looks" of ARK under the Linux variant of Steam just aren't nearly as good, otherwise we'd have done the switch, just to cut down on those terrible load times.

    BTW: Restarts of ARK with a warmed up file system cache do much, much better (locally, not network): Perhaps Windows remembers it's already virus scanned those files or it just traverses file system trees in RAM much faster than those on disk.
    Reply
  • fball922
    abufrejoval said:
    I always have to laugh when someone mentions DirectStorage...

    One of our favorite games in the family is ARK Survival Evolved. It has lots of add-ons and maps available and has grown from just around 100GB initially to something like 400GB currently.

    But that's not the main issue: those 400GB are 150,000 files in 13,000 folders and evidently launching the game and a session needs to read/parse quite a few of them and perhaps rather randomly.

    Since it's so rather big, I put it on a Windows Server 2019 share with a RAID0 of SATA SSDs as a backend and felt confident that the 10Gbit network between the gaming workstations should be enough to carry the SSD performance over the network, especially since I tested this with a couple of VM images with dozens of GB each and reached the expected 1 GByte/s across the wire.

    But even if the network is fundamentally able to deliver the bandwidth, loading the game via the network still took ages longer than from a single local SATA SSD, which can also easily take some minutes. It was much slower than the local HDD loading that I wanted to replace with a shared pool instead of buying SSD storage for each PC. Could the SMB network add such drastic overhead?

    During a Linux Steam test session I didn't have an SSD available for storage, so instead I used a rather ancient 2TB HDD I had lying around. So when I launched the game under Linux, I didn't really expect that to come alive in less than 15 minutes or so: I wanted to have a look at the graphics.

    But in fact it loaded way faster than from the local SSD JBOD on Windows!
    Again, just in case you missed it: a lowly HDD on Linux beat a RAID0 of SSDs on Windows 2019 Data Center Edition!
    Unfortunately I didn't find the time to run the test with Linux as a file share host with Windows clients: that should have been really interesting!

    Opening something like 100k files to start a game may be somewhat extreme. Lots of games store maps in large files and perform much better. ARK evidently was designed from an EPIC template that involved a lot of small files even in the original Shooter Game, but grew "epic" with the wonderfully detailed and large maps they designed.

    Whatever Microsoft does when opening a file, the overhead adds up big time when you deal with hundreds of thousands. I don't know if they do virus scanning/blacklist-checking or have a really inefficient way of parsing the file system tree. But when you compare that with how Linux performs, the difference is orders of magnitude and I am shocked to see that a VMS successor could perform that badly.

    Gaming doesn't need a new storage API on Windows: it needs a different OS that is actually able to use the hardware that's already there efficiently. And somebody better tune file sharing, as that brings far worse performance than a local hard disk even with an SSD backend and a 10Gbit network, when lots of small files are involved: there must be dozens of synchronous latency intensive dialog packets, before the first file data actually goes across the wire. Large files easily saturate the 10Gbit network, small files bring it to a crawl even when you copy RAM cache to NVMe.

    I can only recommend Microsoft engineers repeat this easy (and fun!) benchmark using ARK and start profiling their code!
    Too bad the "looks" of ARK under the Linux variant of Steam just aren't nearly as good, otherwise we'd have done the switch, just to cut down on those terrible load times.

    BTW: Restarts of ARK with a warmed up file system cache do much, much better (locally, not network): Perhaps Windows remembers it's already virus scanned those files or it just traverses file system trees in RAM much faster than those on disk.
    I wonder if your setup would be better with an iscsi target instead of smb.
    Reply
  • abufrejoval
    fball922 said:
    I wonder if your setup would be better with an iscsi target instead of smb.
    Well the goal in that case was to centralize the (expensive) SSD storage in one place, so I didn't have to replicate the huge game files on every machine.

    iSCSI is block storage, exclusive to one host for each target, so the consolidation/sharing effect would be missing.
    Reply