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SLI Vram explanation please

post #1 of 10
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I have a friend who wants to know why the second card's memory isn't used. Since I can't give him a true answer, he doesn't believe me. >.<
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post #2 of 10
From this interesting thread... http://www.overclock.net/nvidia/3172...am-debate.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by brettjv View Post
I believe that the simple explanation would go something along these lines ...

Your vram is used primarily to store textures, or what might be best described as the surfaces of all the objects you see in-game. Each time you load a level in a game, the texture files for the level are loaded into the vram so they can be easily accessed and rendered by the GPU and associated mechanisms. The way SLI works is to, in essence, alternate very rapidly between the two gpu's, each rendering one frame before switching that duty back to it's partner.

Because, for the most part, from frame to frame, you are looking at close to exactly the same textures, and the bandwidth that is available that connects your GPU to your VRAM is HUGE (orders of magnitude more huge) than the bandwidth that's available over the PCI-Express bus ... you cannot have some of the textures stored in one cards vram and others stored in the other cards.

Thus, the answer to this question should become fairly self-evident...

It's because both cards have to have their own copies of the textures.

So, technically, the extra memory IS being *used* in a sense ... but your total memory CAPACITY is still limited to whatever is on one card.

Make sense?
 
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post #3 of 10
Plus, the purpose of the slave card is to add graphics processing power, not memory capacity.
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post #4 of 10
Even more basically, both cards are contributing to the rendering of the same image and thus they both need the same information stored on their Vram to render the same image.
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post #5 of 10
A easy way to visualize why PCI-E is a bottleneck is to consider that something like a CPU and RAM has a bandwidth of 51.2 GB/S while optimally 16 lanes of PCI-E 2.0 has a (relatively) meager 8 GB/S. It is more effective for the GPUs to effectively render their workloads as independently as possible.
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post #6 of 10
Its like having two horses, you can use them separately, or you can put them together, and they will pull twice as much though unfortunately they do not make one larger super horse
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post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by appleg33k85 View Post
Its like having two horses, you can use them separately, or you can put them together, and they will pull twice as much though unfortunately they do not make one larger super horse
I like the super-horse analogy.
 
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post #8 of 10
TickleMeElmo what are you talking about lol? What ever it is, it is not relevant sorry.
You guys make it harder than what it is. except for horsey. Let see if I can make it worse.
SLI= Scalable Linked Interface.

They use an alternate frame rendering technique. While one card is rendering the frame, the other is pre rendering. It off loads some of the work. SLI was not designed for performance. It was designed for AA and AS or frame quality.
However by off loading or sharing the work performance was a by product.
Has nothing to do with vram. All video cards have vram, sli or not.
http://www.slizone.com/page/home.html
Edited by DrFPS - 1/25/11 at 4:24pm
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post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrFPS View Post
TickleMeElmo what are you talking about lol? What ever it is, it is not relevant sorry.
You guys make it harder than what it is. except for horsey. Let see if I can make it worse.
SLI= Scalable Linked Interface.

They use an alternate frame rendering technique. While one card is rendering the frame, the other is pre rendering. It off loads some of the work. SLI was not designed for performance. It was designed for AA and AS or frame quality.
However by off loading or sharing the work performance was a by product.
Has nothing to do with vram. All video cards have vram, sli or not.
http://www.slizone.com/page/home.html
Has everything to do with vram. His question was about vram specifically.
 
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post #10 of 10
An (actual) simple explanation is this: the same data has to be mirrored onto the vram of both cards. This is because the cards take turns rendering frames, so each has to have all the data needed to render a frame, and having the cards reaching across the pci-ex bus to the other card to get the data they needed would be horrifically slow. Not to mention there'd be concurrency issues.

Thus, the memory of both cards IS used, but the effective memory capacity is not doubled, because the total amount of data being stored in the vram is also doubled (assuming 2 card SLI).

Lastly ... if you understand how RAID-1 (mirrored) hard drives work, then you basically understand how the vram is used with cards in SLI: Think of 2x500GB HD's in RAID-1 ... you physically have 1000MB of storage, and both drives are used, but the effective capacity of the array = 500MB because the same data is stored twice, once on each drive.
Edited by brettjv - 1/25/11 at 6:06pm
    
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