AMD’s Smart Access Memory Explained – What is it?

After the much hyped big reveal of AMD’s 6000 series, the questions on everyone's lips are “What is Smart Access Memory”? and what is “Rage Mode”?

what is amd smart access memory

AMD finally revealed their latest 6000 series GPUs to the world in their recent live stream and brought a few new terms to the table for PC enthusiasts. Both “Rage Mode” and “Smart Access Memory” were introduced and left more than one viewer scratching their heads as to what it all means. Well, never fear, we’re here to break it down for you to make sure you know everything you need to about the upcoming RDNA 2 GPUs from AMD.

What is Rage Mode?

In simple terms, the amusingly titled “Rage Mode” is a one-click overclocking ability that takes advantage of the additional capacity of the “Big Navi” card and its more diminutive 6000 series brethren.

What Is AMD Smart Access Memory?

Of greater interest is “Smart Access Memory”, where AMD have decided to go with what could turn out to be a very “smart” business move on their part (sorry). Taking advantage of the fact that they are the one of the big two in both the CPU and GPU market they have sought to maximize efficiencies for systems that combine both newly released AMD components on the same rig. Taking advantage of the AMD’s RX 6000-series’ new Infinity Cache, the software allows the CPU to directly access the graphics card’s full memory buffer, as opposed to the 256MB segments that have been the norm until now. More simply put, Smart Access Memory means more efficient use of the combined memory of the CPU and GPU, reducing buffering and latency – great news for gamers.

Questions remain as to whether this feature will be dependent upon having a 500 series motherboard as part of your system, as it appears to function through PCIe. Additionally we do not know how significant either Smart Access Memory or Rage Mode will be individually in terms of additional performance, as they were both turned on at the same time.

It may even prove that the percentage increase of both might not be a game changer, particularly if they are based around additional performance through pre-loading, to take advantage of the additional memory allocation, as this might not have universal application. However, if the scale of the below bars can be believed, the eyeball test shows the performance of the RX 6800 XT (in red) to be broadly comparable to Nvidia’s RTX 3080 in the games AMD tested – outperforming in Forza Horizon 4, and underperforming in Resident Evil 3.

All we know is that if your PC has both of the latest AMD CPUs and GPUs and Rage Mode and Smart Access Memory active, AMD have stated you will see an uplift in performance anywhere from 2 to 13 percent when comparing the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT to the Nvidia RTX 3080, with an average uplift of 6.4% across the eight games AMD have tested it with. As ever, the true test will be independent benchmarking. Watch this space for the latest news on these figures as they come through.