When AMD came out and officially unveiled its next-gen lineup of Radeon RX 6000 graphics cards, there was one specific feature that piqued everyone’s interest: Smart Access Memory (SAM).
The new proprietary technology known as SAM allows those with AMD Zen 3 CPUs to have full access to the VRAM within a RX 6000 series card. Immediately, concerns arose throughout the greater hardware community about the feature only being available to those within AMD’s ecosystem. People felt that AMD was taking advantage of the fact that it’s the only company (for now) to have a lineup of GPUs and CPUs.
In response to this, Nvidia announced that it was working with Intel to build a system similar to AMD’s SAM. According to Nvidia, the feature will become available to Ampere GPUs through future software updates. The company added that it’s “working internally” and “seeing similar performance results.”
From NVIDIA, re:SAM: “The capability for resizable BAR is part of the PCI Express spec. NVIDIA hardware supports this functionality and will enable it on Ampere GPUs through future software updates. We have it working internally and are seeing similar performance results."
— GamersNexus (@GamersNexus) November 12, 2020
What’s more, Nvidia claims that it won’t require PCIe 4.0 to utilize. Systems built on the PCIe 3.0 spec will be able to take advantage of the feature.
AMD expands its reach
With that information out in the public, AMD revealed during an interview with PCWorld that it’s also working to bring the feature to Intel CPUs. It’s also working with Nvidia to make SAM compatible with GeForce RTX 3000 Series GPUs.
“There’s already conversations underway,” AMD’s Scott Herkelman said. “At the end of the day, the gamer wins and that’s all that matters.”
Despite how Nvidia made it seem, however, AMD says that the feature isn’t something as simple as a switch you can just flip. Herkelman says that development time and optimization will be needed to provide players performance boosts that justify the feature.
“There is going to be fine tuning they (Intel and Nvidia) are going to have to do if they want to see some of these performance gains,” Herkelman said.
Details still remain unclear as to the timeline for when users will be able to use SAM across brands. Those who want to take advantage of AMD Smart Access Memory immediately will need a Ryzen 5000 series CPU, a Radeon RX 6000 series GPU, and a X570 motherboard.