Home Gaming NVidia responds to GTX 970 memory issue

NVidia responds to GTX 970 memory issue

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970-GTX

Last week, we told you about an issue that resulted in poor performance on the NVidia GTX 970 if the card attempted to use over 3.5GB of VRAM. In a response this weekend, NVidia’s said it’s not an issue at all.

In a post on the GeForce forums, NVidia moderator ManuelG explained the situation (via PC Performance). He says the 970 is working as intended. The 970 has a different memory configuration to the 980, and is segmented in to a 3.5GB block, and a separate, 500MB block. The GPU can more readily access the 3.5GB block and only uses the last bit of memory when it’s necessary. Benchmarking tools, and indeed some games, aren’t able to read the last 500MB

“The GeForce GTX 970 is equipped with 4GB of dedicated graphics memory. However the 970 has a different configuration of SMs than the 980, and fewer crossbar resources to the memory system. To optimally manage memory traffic in this configuration, we segment graphics memory into a 3.5GB section and a 0.5GB section. The GPU has higher priority access to the 3.5GB section. When a game needs less than 3.5GB of video memory per draw command then it will only access the first partition, and 3rd party applications that measure memory usage will report 3.5GB of memory in use on GTX 970, but may report more for GTX 980 if there is more memory used by other commands. When a game requires more than 3.5GB of memory then we use both segments.

We understand there have been some questions about how the GTX 970 will perform when it accesses the 0.5GB memory segment. The best way to test that is to look at game performance. Compare a GTX 980 to a 970 on a game that uses less than 3.5GB. Then turn up the settings so the game needs more than 3.5GB and compare 980 and 970 performance again.”

He then showed a graph that demonstrated that the frame rate differences between games running on the 970 and the 980 weren’t too different at all.

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And that may be true. Games may run well enough on the 970, but the fact is that the 970 was sold as a 4GB with full speed memory access – not one with full speed memory at 3.5GB, and painfully slow memory for the last eighth. Yes, you may have full access to 4GB, but what’s the point if the last bit is hobbled?

It’s especially worrying for some users, who’ve found that their memory gets slower when accessing even less memory, around 3.2GB. Other conflicting reports say that cards utilising Samsung GDDR5 are unaffected, while those built using Hynix memory will run in to the allocation problem. We’ll have to wait for more responses from NVidia and further testing. Here’s some rather good work from a NeoGAF user bootski, who’s found that while yes, there is indeed a problem, beyond synthetic testing it doesn’t make much difference. That’s fine for now, but those who bought 970’s for a bit of future proofing may be in for a rude awakening.

Last Updated: January 26, 2015

61 Comments

  1. ToshZA

    January 26, 2015 at 08:35

    lol, so actually there’s no problem at all.

    Good news for team green. 🙂

    Reply

    • Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

      January 26, 2015 at 08:40

      No, there is most definitely a problem. Nvidia’s just sweeping it under the rug.

      Reply

      • Lord Chaos

        January 26, 2015 at 08:50

        It’s called a “Feature”

        Reply

      • ToshZA

        January 26, 2015 at 08:50

        I run games at 1920 x 1080, as do most people I’m sure because R10k for a 4k res monitor is absurd. The only resolution that seems to go above 3.5gb’s of VRAM is 4k, and gaming at 4k isn’t mainstream yet. People who can afford it, will probably have a pair of 980’s in their rig.

        Yes, I assume much. But, without a need for all 4gb of vram at any given time, there isn’t a problem.

        Reply

        • Lord Chaos

          January 26, 2015 at 08:51

          I’m pretty sure when Star Citizen finally comes out it’ll be a major problem. But by that time the 970 will be historic.

          Reply

          • ToshZA

            January 26, 2015 at 08:52

            Yeah, sorry but Star Citizen is well over a year away from being done. I’d still be surprised if they finish it.

          • Brady miaau

            January 26, 2015 at 09:24

            I have a sad face now. Thanks. but yes. I too will be surprised if they manage to finish it. Purely dealing with this a project and the scope creep that Kickstarter has put in, must be a MAMMOTH task to manage. The Requirements Analysis alone for this game must have killed them to process.

          • ToshZA

            January 26, 2015 at 09:42

            That’s my biggest worry – I’d love for the game to be done and be great – but the scope of it I think is just too big for that to be possible.

          • HairyEwok

            January 26, 2015 at 09:14

            Yeah by the time Star Citizen is out we wont even see GDDR 5 anymore. DRAM is coming at a blistering speed.

      • DrKiller

        January 26, 2015 at 08:50

        Don’t use a 4k screen, then there is no problem 🙂

        Reply

        • Shaun Crosby

          January 26, 2015 at 13:01

          Needs 4K, lends me the money 😛

          Reply

      • Brady miaau

        January 26, 2015 at 09:23

        Well, luckily, I and people I work with and have worked with have never, ever done something like that before.

        Reply

      • Wyzak

        January 26, 2015 at 10:27

        The table says otherwise.

        Reply

  2. Hammersteyn

    January 26, 2015 at 08:59

    GINGER TEAM!

    Reply

    • Admiral Chief

      January 26, 2015 at 09:01

      Oh you

      Reply

    • Ghost In The Rift

      January 26, 2015 at 09:02

      NICE!!!XD

      Reply

    • ToshZA

      January 26, 2015 at 09:05

      lol XD

      Reply

  3. Kromas Votes LAG WCMovie Event

    January 26, 2015 at 09:05

    Broken as intended. GG you win the internet NVIDIA! 😛

    Reply

    • ToshZA

      January 26, 2015 at 09:06

      Still a better card than AMD. 🙂

      Reply

      • Kromas Votes LAG WCMovie Event

        January 26, 2015 at 09:07

        I tend to disagree. Yes it runs hotter and consumes more power but it lasts longer (weird right?) and just works without heavy driver complications. It will be a long loooong time before I even touch a Green card again.

        Reply

        • Brady miaau

          January 26, 2015 at 09:22

          Are you still talking about video cards? I am confused now.

          Reply

          • Kromas Votes LAG WCMovie Event

            January 26, 2015 at 09:28

            Now I am confused. Dammit I hate Mondays!

          • Brady miaau

            January 26, 2015 at 09:38

            Well, read your post very quickly, with your best Leslie Nielsen poor taste joke hat on.

          • Kromas Votes LAG WCMovie Event

            January 26, 2015 at 09:42

            green card … i get it now. lol 😛

        • ToshZA

          January 26, 2015 at 09:33

          O_o

          I’ve never had a problem with an Nvidia card. Not once. I’ve been using them since the old 4000 series.

          Reply

          • Kromas Votes LAG WCMovie Event

            January 26, 2015 at 09:37

            You are lucky as I have had several over the years and only one survived more than 2 years. Only had one AMD blow up on me and that may have been the lightning bolts fault. 😛

          • Raptor Rants A Lot

            January 26, 2015 at 09:39

            My nVidia 9600 lasted 4 years. My 560Ti is 3 going on 4. I’ve also had it lucky. I’ve had AMD cards bust on me before though.

          • ToshZA

            January 26, 2015 at 09:40

            I used a 5950 for 8 years. Then upgraded to the 560 I’m using now, still going strong. 🙂

          • Raptor Rants A Lot

            January 26, 2015 at 09:41

            Radeon 5950 or Geforce FX 5950?

            If it was the Geforce FX then I am sorry. The 5000 series was the absolute worse series released by any GFX card manufacturer EVER. nVidia massively dropped the ball there 🙁

          • ToshZA

            January 26, 2015 at 09:43

            Geforce. But saying what you’re saying – that their shit series lasted me 8 years without issue – says plenty about Nvidia.

            Just saying.

          • Raptor Rants A Lot

            January 26, 2015 at 09:43

            fair enough. Do you remember how dismal the performance of the FX 5200 was? Yoh, that was embarrassing hahahaha

          • ToshZA

            January 26, 2015 at 09:45

            hahahaha, any of their lower tier cards performed terribly. In fact, before the 750ti, anything that wasn’t a 60 or higher wasn’t great at all. XD

            Idk, I got the FX 5950 as a gift, so that was awesome 🙂

          • Wyzak

            January 26, 2015 at 10:29

            My 460 and 570 are both still working perfectly as well. Also running in friend’s puters.

          • Wyzak

            January 26, 2015 at 10:28

            Yeah not sure where he’s coming from either. The only time I’ve ever had graphics card driver issues was with ATI.

        • Raptor Rants A Lot

          January 26, 2015 at 09:38

          I’ve oddly never had issues with nVidia cards like this hey. I’m not saying driver issues don’t occur but in my experience I’ve had 2 AMD cards that have given issues with out of box drivers and then even more when trying to update. Odd color saturation or performance drops etc. Hence why I stick to green.

          But then again people stick where they’ve had the least issues and that’s different for everyone. Nature of computer components. 2 identical components will never perform the same or act 100% the same in different setups

          Reply

      • Lord Chaos

        January 26, 2015 at 09:10

        At least when there’s a problem with AMD you actually get more memory, not less.

        Reply

  4. Gavin Mannion

    January 26, 2015 at 09:09

    It’s not a bug it is just an undocumented feature…

    Reply

    • Brady miaau

      January 26, 2015 at 09:12

      Well yes. Also, it is because you did not use as it was designed to be used. Therefore your fault,, user.

      Reply

  5. Tarisma

    January 26, 2015 at 09:18

    I’m pretty upset over this…

    Reply

    • Kromas Votes LAG WCMovie Event

      January 26, 2015 at 09:29

      They have been accused of bad business practices since 2008. So not really suprised by this at all.

      Reply

    • Wyzak

      January 26, 2015 at 10:30

      Why? Look at the table provided. The difference in performance below 3.5GB and above 4GB for the 970 which is supposedly broken and the 980 which is perfect, is 1-3% That’s negligible.

      Internet making a mountain over a mole-hill.

      Reply

  6. FoxOneZA

    January 26, 2015 at 09:28

    Explains why Hynix RAM only lasts me 3 years at most.

    Reply

  7. Raptor Rants A Lot

    January 26, 2015 at 09:36

    Look, I dig Team Green, but this is uncool. It’s false advertising as it’s meant to be a 4GB card. Not a 3.5Gb with a secondary 0.5GB bit of SEPARATE memory. All you need is one application or game that requires uninterrupted memory allocation where no switching should happen and this is going to cause crashes.

    It’s a stupid design move that I can’t fathom why it was done this way

    Reply

    • Wyzak

      January 26, 2015 at 10:31

      The driver will manage the 3.5GB and 0.5GB switch, and it will be transparent to the application.

      Reply

    • shadus

      January 26, 2015 at 15:36

      Raptor, This doesn’t sound like a designer decision but one made by marketing. An engineer would know currently pushing a single card past 3.5gb ram takes seriously high resolution and features. Most consumers buy a $300 -350 card wouldn’t need more. Marketing knows they can sell gang busters if they can make it a 4gb card so engineering is forced to shoe horn in the extra 500mb. Now the big question I want to know is how many would have bought a 970 if it was marketed as 3.5 gb and was $20-$30 cheaper?

      Reply

      • Raptor Rants A Lot:Original #7

        January 26, 2015 at 18:14

        I hear what you are saying. But nVidia as a company shouldn’t allow marketing that states anything but the truth. But that’s just my opinion.

        That being said, the card still seems to be doing really well for its price

        Reply

        • shadus

          January 26, 2015 at 20:22

          Most companies shouldn’t let marketing make decisions but the truth is marketing is making promises before engineering or design ever sees the product. Hype based yearly releases are usually the worst for the sort of customer abuse. Golf clubs advertising for example is horrible. Its full of buzzwords gimmicks and made up scientific sounding words to promise buyers massive improvement. The truth is most of the distance you gain from new models comes from loft and shaft length adjustments that we have been able to change for decades.

          Reply

          • Raptor Rants A Lot:Original #7

            January 27, 2015 at 08:47

            You’re right. Just think it’s so wrong 🙁

  8. Ray Watson

    January 26, 2015 at 09:48

    Nvidia has always done this “false advertisement” to a degree … I bought a GTX690 3 years ago and it is advertised as having 4gb ram. We all know that it’s a dual Gpu card and both Gpu’s only have 2gb ram and it is not sharable …. Glad I went for the Gtx980 this time around , even thou I get the same FPS as my GTX690 but at-least I have true 4gb ram now …. Companies all around the world use these same “tactics” when it comes down to marketing for example – Corsair H100i water-cooling displays on the box that an Intel I7-3770k overclocked at 4.5 ghz should run around 45c. I have never seen anybody get those temps on that overclock using an H100i …..It’s just the way the world works ….

    Reply

  9. Skynet Electron

    January 26, 2015 at 09:53

    look like im waiting on the wikipedia fabled 980ti for 4k

    Reply

  10. b1nd3r

    January 26, 2015 at 10:15

    Future of graphics cards………Buy the latest DLC for your card and unlock the MAXIMUM edition, Up to 0.5gb increased memory :O :O :O

    Reply

  11. Wyzak

    January 26, 2015 at 10:27

    The frame rates show that the last bit isn’t “hobbled”. The difference between 970 and 980 is negligible. 24% vs 25%, 47% vs 50%, 41% vs 44%. Boohoo.

    Reply

    • Pontifi

      January 26, 2015 at 17:35

      unless they are reporting frame times…that 1-3% difference could still feel stutter and lagged. Which is what most gamers are complaining about.

      Reply

      • Wyzak

        January 26, 2015 at 18:23

        I have a 970 and I have nothing to complain about. It’s destroying everything that I’m throwing at it.

        Reply

  12. SlagywaG

    January 26, 2015 at 10:56

    The problem here is they falsely advertised this… Yes sure the card still works fine. BUT it would work better if it was what they advertised… And no stop with the 4k crap… Give it a year and 1080p gaming will need 4gb cards.

    Reply

  13. Michael Matusowsky

    January 26, 2015 at 11:51

    What I want to know is why they chose to do that? Honestly what the fuck.

    Reply

  14. Ceyber, The Metal Rabbit

    January 26, 2015 at 12:05

    Companies in this industry keep wanting to pull the proverbial wool over consumer eyes. Do they really think the majority is THAT stupid? Cut costs on design or aesthetics if profits mean that much, don’t skimp on what you’ve made me believe is the given performance and quality of a product.

    Goddammit how hard is that to do? I buy a hot dog, I expect a hotdog. Not a sausage roll.

    Reply

  15. thrillseeker75

    January 26, 2015 at 12:15

    patiently waiting for 8gb versions of 970/980 . . . hopefully before the release of gta5 😀

    Reply

    • Spaffy

      January 26, 2015 at 12:29

      You mean before the release of the gta5 mods

      Reply

  16. Ozzh3D

    January 26, 2015 at 15:44

    Your previous article (http://www.lazygamer.net/general-news/nvidias-gtx970-has-a-rather-serious-memory-allocation-bug/) made it to Linus Tech Tips 🙂

    You’re YouTube Famous, Geoffrey!

    Reply

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