Graphics card reportedly only accessing 3.5GB of its 4GB system memory

Nvidia explains GTX 970 memory ‘problem’

Chip maker Nvidia has responded to complaints that its GeForce GTX 970 graphics card has a problem with its system memory.

The 970 claims to have 4GB memory, however a number of PC users across various forums have reported that memory performance drops significantly when the last 500MB to 700MB of VRAM gets accessed, reports – a problem that the more powerful GTX 980 card apparently doesn’t have.

An Nvidia spokesperson said on the GeForce forums: "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 third-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."

Here’s an example of some performance data:

The spokesperson added: "As you can see, there is very little change in the performance of the GTX 970 relative to GTX 980 on these games when it is using the 0.5GB segment."

The stance from Nivida is very much ‘working as intended’, but we’ll update this article if any other developments in this story come to light.

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