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Featured image credit: AMD
AMD Smart Access Memory, or simply SAM, is a technology that enables your CPU to access your GPU’s VRAM in a much more efficient way. For example, imagine that a game you play requires 1 GB of VRAM. Traditionally, your CPU would have to make 4 calls to your GPU, since it can access only 256 MB of VRAM at a time. With SAM, however, the CPU only has to make one call in order to access the same amount of VRAM. This way, the time required to access 1 GB of VRAM is significantly reduced, and you also avoid other problems related to latency, resource usage, and power consumption.
What happens with Smart Access Memory is that now you can fully use your graphics card’s VRAM. This means if your GPU has, say, 8 GB of VRAM, and all of it is in use, your CPU will only have to make one single call, instead of 32 calls. In a way, SAM is a quite revolutionary technology, since it introduces a wide variety of ways how CPU can now manage your GPU’s VRAM. This is particularly seen in gaming, where certain games require a lot of VRAM, and with SAM enabled you can achieve significant performance boosts.
When it was first released, AMD SAM only worked in conjunction with Ryzen 5000 series processors, X570 motherboards, and Radeon RX 6000 series graphics cards. After that, AMD decided to introduce support for SAM on B450 and B550 motherboards, as well as include Ryzen 3000 and Ryzen 4000 CPUs in the list of processors that support SAM. Nowadays even Intel 400 series motherboards offer support for AMD Smart Access Memory, provided that you own a Radeon graphics card. Unfortunately, older AMD motherboards with X370 chipset don’t support SAM, but it’s possible to enable SAM even on these motherboards if you install a modified BIOS.
Up until the release of Adrenalin 21.9.1 drivers, only graphics cards based on the RDNA 2 architecture supported SAM. Now even graphics cards based on the RDNA 1 architecture support SAM. This means that AMD SAM now works perfectly fine with Radeon RX 5000 series graphics cards.
How to enable SAM?
To enable AMD Smart Access Memory, you first have to access your motherboard’s BIOS settings. There, you have to enable Above 4G Memory/Crypto Currency mining option, and also enable Re-size BAR support. If one of these settings isn’t appearing in your motherboard’s BIOS, that means you need to update the BIOS. To do that, go to your motherboard’s manufacturer website, find your model, download the latest BIOS version, and update the BIOS in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If you do everything correctly, the resizeable BAR option should appear.
After you do that, be sure to install AMD Adrenalin 21.9.1 drivers, or newer. And that’s it! The Smart Access Memory features should now work perfectly fine. So, if you own a 7th Gen Intel Core CPU, or newer, or AMD Ryzen 3000/4000/5000 series CPU, the SAM features should now be accessible to you. If you experience any trouble enabling SAM, be sure to make that your motherboard operates in the UEFI mode, and that CSM compatibility option is disabled.