July 29, 2016

AMD Takes a Different Angle on VRAM

AMD has a novel approach to increasing VRAM for big VR and 3D renders: an SSD in your GPU.

With the announcement earlier this week by NVIDIA of a video card with 24GB of VRAM, which is targeted specifically at the high end graphics and render market along with live VR stitching, competitor AMD has a high hurdle to jump to stay in the game. Considering many large studios like Framestore run NVIDIA exclusively, AMD needs to not only meet but fly well over the hurdle to make a dent in the pro market. With the new Pro SSG, they just might.

Video Ram is hugely important for video rendering since the processing goes much faster if the image can be buffered in the card's onboard storage. With the increasingly data-intense footage formats filmmakers are using (8K video, for instance), cards need more on-board memory to load the footage and then process it quickly.  For example, some VFX workflows are now up around 50GB per frame, way beyond what even the top end NVIDIA cards can load into memory easily.  Since VRAM is generally pretty expensive, making a card with something like 128GB hasn't yet been cost-effective.

AMD had a great idea: why not build a graphics card with an on-board SSD slot? 

Simultaneous to the increase in the size of film capture and release format has been the increase in size and speed of SSDs.  So AMD had a great idea: why not build a graphics card with an on-board SSD slot?  Or, as they did with the Radeon Pro SSG, how about 2 PCIe 3.0 M.2 slots, allowing for up to 1TB of on-board storage?

While SSD isn't quite as fast as VRAM, it'll still offer the benefit of a huge amount of on-board storage.  In demonstrations, AMD is getting 30fps for 8K video.  The expected use case is medical, scientific, and VR processing.  Now, you probably won't be grabbing one yourself anytime soon; the expected price is $10,000. But, if successful at the high end, we'll hopefully see this idea trickle down to more affordable cards in the future.     

Your Comment

1 Comment

Fix the overheating garbage you're putting in the Mac Pros (d700s) before you start on this. You're like kids who start getting the train set out without packing away the Lego first. Tidy up your mess.

August 2, 2016 at 10:00AM

Mike Keelin

AMD has no control over the cooling system other than the cards they design. As for the Mac Pro, Apple brags about the single, unified heatsink - so if you think it is overheating garbage, then I guess Apple's design is a failure for your use case.

August 4, 2016 at 8:30PM

Ken Elliott
Cleaner of Lenses