In this way, AMD plans to ensure compatibility on Intel and Nvidia platforms.
AMD recently detailed three new RDNA 2 features: RAGE Mode, Smart Access Memory, and Infinity Cache. SAM or Smart Access is a new feature that allows AMD processors to access all of the video memory in the Radeon RX 6000 series GPUs.
AMD’s solution was supposed to work only with the latest Ryzen 5000 series processors and the RX 6000 line of GPUs with compatible B550 / X570 motherboards. Many were concerned that this feature would only work in the AMD ecosystem, but now it looks like AMD is opening up compatibility on both Intel and Nvidia platforms.
Hard to fit in a tweet, but basically, they're working on enabling the same feature as AMD Smart Access Memory (AMD GPU+CPU=Perf uplift) on both Intel and AMD. No ETA yet. Doesn't look like it'll be ready before RX 6000 launch, but we'll keep an eye on development.
— GamersNexus (@GamersNexus) November 12, 2020
In an interview with PCWorld, AMD stated that its Radeon team is working with Intel to make this feature work with the RX 6000 series GPUs as well as the latest compatible Intel processors and motherboards.
It was also mentioned that the AMD Ryzen group is working with Nvidia to enable the new Smart Access Memory / SAM feature to work with NVIDIA GeForce GPUs. Thus, we can expect SAM to work with Nvidia GPUs as well.
AMD also said in interviews that the feature is more than just a “toggle” feature that can be easily turned on / off. Instead, design and proper optimization will be required to maximize performance gains.
Nvidia also recently confirmed that the company is working with Intel to get a similar feature for its own GeForce GPUs. Nvidia said SAM will be enabled on all Ampere GeForce RTX 30 series GPUs and in future software and driver updates. It will be compatible with AMD and Intel processors. As such, Nvidia GPUs are also going to use a similar feature that could give them an edge in gaming.
Nvidia said the feature is easy to implement because the “resize bar” is actually part of the PCI-Express specifications, and existing NVIDIA hardware fully supports the feature.
According to AMD, Infinity Cache delivers up to 10% more energy efficiency, as well as doubling the bandwidth (an increase of almost 117%) while using less power than traditional memory.
Infinity Cache is based on the Zen processor’s L3 cache design. Infinity Cache increases performance scaling per clock as frequency increases, mainly because the GPU is now less constrained by external memory bandwidth. Infinity Cache also improves ray tracing performance as most of the dataset is stored closer to compute units for feed.
Most importantly, AMD says that individual game developers will need to optimize games for this new Smart Memory Access feature. Thus, it may take six to twelve months before we can see this new technology in games.
Finally, AMD Radeon RX 6000 GPUs will also support DirectStorage APIs, which can help reduce game load times. It remains to be seen how much of the performance gain this SAM feature provides in the AMD and Nvidia ecosystem.
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