GeForce GTX 970 memory allocation issue explained by Nvidia

By Scorpus
Jan 25, 2015
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  1. Over the past few days it has emerged that the Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 might have a few issues addressing the entirety of its 4GB of VRAM. Posters on several enthusiast forums have been testing the card, and noticed that...

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  2. genuinethief

    genuinethief TS Member Posts: 18

  3. Oh this is typical. I decided to get one, its sat in its box un opened atm. 2 days later the 960's come out at a more wallet friendly price, and now I read this. Well tits... I probably won't notice anything I'm not a hardcore nerd.
  4. Deltree

    Deltree TS Enthusiast Posts: 27

    I guess I don't understand why an additional VRAM partition is needed. I don't partition my HDD because I don't need a virtual speration of my physical drive. If I need a new drive, a new physical drive is added. To segment that seems pointless to me at my user level. I dont see any benefit to partitioning besides posssibly hiding system files from a user that may potentially delete or move important system files through being uneducated about the proper usage of expensive equipment they own. ("Whatever you do, don't touch D:\ System.") Unless I am web browsing, I am editing HD video or gaming. In my opinion, either I need basically no GPU for browsing, or everything my GPU has got for edits and gaming. I don't feel like I need some mathed out curve adjusting the power, fan speed, clock speed, VRAM speed, and now (I guess) which of my VRAM partitions are being utilized if this is going to negatively affect my performance. Does anyone else need half speed from their components? Need it enough to bring down your top end performance? Not me. But I am no pro, and probably don't know better than Nvidia who makes GPUs, while so far the nuber of GPUs I have made is zero.
  5. Partitioning the hard drive is a huge help when reinstalling your OS, for example. If you keep your OS in one partition and your bulk personal data (music, photos, videos, documents) in another, all you need to do is format the OS partition and your data is left untouched.
    Or you can also just create a temporary partition to store your data and merge it back after reinstalling the OS, so you can format your PC without needing external backup devices.
  6. Well from the article my first un intelligent impression was that the 970 partitioned has the glitchy and doesnt perform like the 980 which isnt partitioned, so unpartitioning (er dumb?) and it makes it run a bit more like the 980...
    so they partition it to make it that extra bit inferior ? or they did something wrong ? sounds like I should send mine back now
  7. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 1,603   +411

    If nVIDIA has to disable this partition to assure a smooth experience, I'm okay with that... this time. I will be watching to see how all this plays out.

    Our own Josh Walrath ( offers this analysis:

    A few days ago when we were presented with evidence of the 970 not fully utilizing all 4 GB of memory, I theorized that it had to do with the reduction of SMM units. It makes sense from an efficiency standpoint to perhaps "hard code" memory addresses for each SMM. The thought behind that would be that 4 GB of memory is a huge amount of a video card, and the potential performance gains of a more flexible system would be pretty minimal.

    I believe that the memory controller is working as intended and not a bug. When designing a large GPU, there will invariably be compromises made. From all indications NVIDIA decided to save time, die size, and power by simplifying the memory controller and crossbar setup. These things have a direct impact on time to market and power efficiency. NVIDIA probably figured that a couple percentage of performance lost was outweighed by the added complexity, power consumption, and engineering resources that it would have taken to gain those few percentage points back.

    Maxwell is a different beast, and Josh is a smart guy (he suspected what nVIDIA later (confirmed?)), so unless I notice abnormalities with framerate and/or freezing or crashing while gaming, this is a non issue for me.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2015
  8. Nero7

    Nero7 TS Booster Posts: 157   +40

    Does this affect the 770 as well?
  9. wastedkill

    wastedkill TS Evangelist Posts: 1,373   +310

    According to hahahanoobs hes okay with buying a broken or in nvidias case it looks like a product with an illegal false advertising on top.

    If you put 2 memory segments which is the worlds first for your company and it destroys your 2ndary sole revenue pushing product then you got a big problem, I see 2 outcomes to this, fix it without replacing your customers broken products or replace your customers broken products with one thats fully functioning.

    Or nvidia could go the other route give them a refund based on the performance drop when fully using the graphics cards which from looks of this article seems to be a hefty amount.
  10. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 1,603   +411

    So your issue is with the "false advertising?" It does have 4GB so that's petty, but ok. Sure they could of put 3 or 3.5GB on the box, but we all still would of bought it anyway. The REAL issue is, does this the VRAM allocation affect performance in games and so far, in my case anyway, the answer is no.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2015
  11. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,114   +1,379

    Looks and sounds like an artificial performance corking - make a perfectly good product, but if turns out to be too good - castrate it a little.
  12. wastedkill

    wastedkill TS Evangelist Posts: 1,373   +310

    Depends on the games you play but I know for me I have definately noticed it and looking at other sites so have plenty of others.
  13. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,202   +422

    Just curious - what games have you noticed it in? I want to do some focused testing myself.
  14. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 1,603   +411

    Let me know how your progress goes with getting that refund any time soon.
  15. Deltree

    Deltree TS Enthusiast Posts: 27

    I can see how that could be a huge help if you don't have backup external drives to use, but I do and like the ease of plugging something into my usb port and backing up my ish compared to creating and managing or deleting partitions. I rarely format my PC.
  16. martinron

    martinron TS Rookie

    so why would you buy a 970 then? People paid allot of money for this card. And people have every right to get their money back. I personally will never buy Nvidia again and am sure many-many people feel the same way if Nvidia do not fix this problem or refund people their money back
  17. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    The performance drop is actually commensurate with the difference in hardware. Aside from the obvious 20% drop in each of the texture address units, cores, and SM's, Nvidia's internal architecture leads to further disparity.
  18. Scorpus

    Scorpus TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 1,785   +186

    No, just the GTX 970 as far as we're aware
  19. I doubt we'll get refunds for the computers that used to come with "500 GB" harddrives that were in the 400s
  20. trgz

    trgz TS Booster Posts: 148   +22

    Yup, even with my 5 HDD & 1 SDD setup (1x1TB, 2x512GB, 2x250GB and 120GB SSD) , I have 13 partitions to make defragging the HDDs easier; allowing portability when upgrading the OS etc; double/triple booting; a dedicated partition on the outside edge of one HDD for a swap file; SSD backups; and housekeeping ie keeping the documents (mp3s, photos, databases, programming work) separate from the games. Even though the games are generally on the outside partition, I do go further and use Ultimate Defrag to organise more intensive games/programs to the outer edges of them - admittedly if I simply had 1xSSD and 2x1TB HDDs I'd probably partition each 1xTB into three chunks
  21. trgz

    trgz TS Booster Posts: 148   +22

    ...and I like my GTX 970
  22. AlanCasseb

    AlanCasseb TS Rookie Posts: 20

    Have u met FOLDERS?
  23. Just go read, it's already been tested by the author of the site. He knows his stuff. He says while there maybe time whens the 4GB isn't fully used, there is no performance impact should would affect the user. So whether your using 3.5 or the full 4GB, there isn't anything people should worry about. He found no significant performance issue like some people have claimed. So that means no hitching or longer pauses were found. Just go to the site and read what he wrote, it's right on the home page.
    trgz likes this.
  24. trgz

    trgz TS Booster Posts: 148   +22

    A voice of sanity
  25. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 1,603   +411

    NVIDIA's Jonah Alben, SVP of GPU Engineering has gone into greater detail about the issue. He also revealed some info about the actual specs of our GTX 970's.

    Did nVIDIA eff up? Yes they did.
    Will I be returning my card as of this moment? No.
    Will I be more cautious in the future? Yes!

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