Nvidia’s Big Accelerator Memory: An SSD for your GPU

We’re on the cusp of the next generation of GPUs.

But it’s hard to focus on what’s right in front of us. Later this month, Nvidia is set to release the long-awaited RTX 3090 Ti. Which has the potential to be the most powerful gaming GPU we’ve ever seen. But the company has also teamed up with university researchers and IBM to unveil. A new technology that is already making us look to the future of graphics cards.

According to Register, BaM or, less interestingly, Big Accelerator Memory is Nvidia’s new technology that allows the GPU to transfer data to a computer’s SSD without bypassing the CPU. This would allow graphics cards to operate much more independently of processors, as well as reduce the load on those processors. Conceptually, this seems a bit similar to AMD’s approach with the Radeon Pro SSG, which had a 2TB SSD connected via M.2, which was more focused on gamers and content creation.

That folder for BAM explains the benefits of using this new system:

“We show that (1) BaM infrastructure software running on GPUs can identify and transfer fine-grained access at a speed fast enough to fully utilize underlying storage devices, (2) even with consumer-grade SSDs, a BaM system can maintain performance applications competitive with a much more expensive DRAM-only solution, and (3) reducing I/O gain can provide significant performance gains.”

All of this means GPUs won’t necessarily have to rely on their own GDDR6 memory when they have direct access to SSDs, and it gets rid of CPU middlemen for faster transfers and performance. It also doesn’t require a proprietary API like the Microsoft DirectStorage solution. Instead, these GPUs will transfer data using PCIe, RDMA, and a specially designed Linux kernel driver. This allows SSDs, even consumer ones, to read and write data directly to the GPU. Overall, this sounds like a win in computing performance across the board.

Because development is GPU-based,

It’s easy to target this game-centric technology, but that’s not necessarily the case. While it’s highly likely that efficiency gains will result in benefits for PC gaming, where it can really show up is for large, complex workloads. This is where a GPU with direct access to tons of SSD storage is likely to win. But that doesn’t mean I also don’t want it to display some very beautiful video games.

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