In the context of: Smart Access Memory or SAM is a software / hardware trick that takes advantage of the PCI Express feature called Base Address Register. So far, only AMD is using the Radeon RX 6000 with its new GPUs to achieve a little extra performance. It allows CPU feed information directly into the entire video memory buffer, instead of just a small portion of it. The result is about a 5-10% performance improvement depending on the title, which is not insignificant.
When AMD announced Smart Access Memory on its latest GPUs, it sounded like SAM required close collaboration between CPU and GPU. Therefore, it was released as a new feature that only works when AMD RX 6000 GPUs are paired with AMD Ryzen 5000 processors.
However, Nvidia believes that a form of SAM can be applied universally, as long as all manufacturers can agree on certain standards, as they rely on the PCI Express feature. PC World asked AMD̵
IN: Will competitors have to push BIOS updates for their entire product ecosystem?
A: I think you will have to ask them. But I believe they will have to work on their own drivers. Intel will have to work with its own motherboard manufacturers and work on its own chipsets. I think we need to do work for our competitors.
And to be clear, our Radeon team will work with Intel to prepare them. And I know that our Ryzen group will work with Nvidia. Talks are already underway. If they are interested in activating this feature on AMD platforms, we will not stop them.
In the interest of truth, I hope they do. At the end of the day, the gamer wins, and that’s all that matters. We are just the company that can do it the fastest because we are the only company in the world (finally) with enthusiastic graphics processors and enthusiastic processors.
Standardization of a SAM-like feature can affect the way games are developed. Although the feature does not require developer support, some games use it much more efficiently than others: at 1440p, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla sees a 14% improvement, but Shadow of the Tomb Raider sees only a 6% improvement. If developers wish, future titles can be designed to use SAM as much as possible.
For now, however, SAM is a good little incentive to keep your system entirely AMD. In our average 1440p game of eighteen, the RX 6800 XT was only 5% slower than the RTX 3090, a difference that SAM can close.
In addition, as noted in our review of the RX 6800 XT, PCIe 4.0 does not appear to be required for SAM. We ran a few limited tests in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla while boosting PCIe 3.0 on our X570 test system and didn’t notice a drop in performance compared to PCIe 4.0, so that’s interesting.