Can you measure VRAM usage?

Discussion in 'hardware' started by TechOutsider, Dec 11, 2009.

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  1. TechOutsider

    TechOutsider Registered Member

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    I wonder if you could measure how much of your dedicated graphics memory was being used by certain things, such as aero or a game.

    Is it possible? Has anyone every done this before?
     
  2. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    That's an interesting question. I would say "no".

    Graphics memory is under the control of the GPU - graphics processor unit. The GPU does not run applications like Aero, Internet Explorer, or your favorite game - they are run on the computer by the CPU. The GPU is simply responsible for following instructions from the CPU. The CPU says to put a blue dot here and red dot there, and hold them for x number of clock cycles. The GPU's job is to put them there as fast as it can, and hold them until told to change.

    If you could look inside the graphics memory, all you would see is the instructions on how (color and effect) to light up each of the millions of pixels on the monitor, 60 times a second.
     
  3. JRViejo

    JRViejo Global Moderator

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    TechOutsider, don't have expertise in this area, yet a Google search turned up this 2008 gamedev.net thread: How to measure VRam usage?. In particular, two programs are mentioned: NVIDIA PerfHUD 6 and AMD GPU PerfStudio 2.0.

    Also saw several mentions of RivaTuner in different forums. Again, this is all FYI.

    Perhaps they are worth a try, and if a Wilders member has used any of these programs, please post your experiences.
     
  4. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    I am familiar with all those, but the title of that topic is misleading and tools suggested don't do what he asked for. Those measure performance characteristics for specific "tasks", such as 2D and 3D texture rendering, shadow mapping, etc. Those are great for comparing graphics cards and GPU performance. But he wanted know how the RAM on the card is being used by specific programs - such as Aero, or his favorite game. But since programs don't "run" in VRAM, that is not possible.
     
  5. JRViejo

    JRViejo Global Moderator

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    Bill_Bright, thanks for the explanation. Let's see if TechOutsider returns and clarifies the post a bit. Take care.

    JR
     
  6. YeOldeStonecat

    YeOldeStonecat Registered Member

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    Yes, some video card brands had additional utilities which could monitor the GPU and VRAM usage, sort of like a task manager for your graphics card. I remember trying one on an nVidia card I had years ago (think it was a leadtek or asus based card), I'm sure there are some for ATI based cards too.
     
  7. TechOutsider

    TechOutsider Registered Member

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    Hey guys. I found a utility, actually a plug-in for RivaTuner that allows you to measure video memory usage. Its called vidmem.

    So, I tried it out, and launched Halo CE with my HD 2400 (256 MB of VRAM). Halo consistantly used about 32 MB of VRAM, which is actually a minimal requirment for Halo CE!

    I haven't given it a shot on my Intel GMA3100 (that requires me removing the ATI card), but if some one could, that would be interesting! And could someone try to measure VRAM usage with Windows Aero? I have Windows XP and without any games open, only a couple of windows, VRAM usage is from 0 to 1 MB. Moving windows around results in a spike of 12 MB.
     
  8. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Okay - I'm learning something new - always a good thing. But I don't see where it shows how much VRAM is used for any program. Where is that?
     
  9. TechOutsider

    TechOutsider Registered Member

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    Oh, it just shows the overall VRAM usage. In Windows XP VRAM usage is generally next to 0 or 0 MB when your only looking at the desktop.

    You just have to do a little bit of math to calculate ... say a video game's VRAM usage. I assumed the desktop composition would use up ~0 MB of VRAM, and total VRAM usage was ~32 MB when running Halo.
     
  10. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Ah, I see. I thought you were saying it gave a breakdown of each application.
     
  11. YeOldeStonecat

    YeOldeStonecat Registered Member

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    Yeah I don't recall a breakdown..just plain GPU and VRAM usage. No details like which apps or processes is using XXX amount. I just recall a very basic task manager like graphic....speedometer style for the GPU usage, basic bar graph for the ram usage.
     
  12. TechOutsider

    TechOutsider Registered Member

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    So if anyone has Vista or 7, I'd like to know how much memory aero uses ...
     
  13. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    That depends on what you got going on. Aero is not a stand-alone service. It is part of the Desktop Window Manager and DWM for me now on this Win7 system is using about 9,000K.
     
  14. YeOldeStonecat

    YeOldeStonecat Registered Member

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    Haven't played with RivaTune in a while..can it piggyback on standard ATI Catalyst drivers? I have a rig at the office with an ATI Fire GL something model video card, with 2x 19" wide monitors. Vista Biz 64 bit. And my laptop with Windows 7, with a 256 meg ATI Fire v5100 I think, 14.1" screen.

    Amount of VRAM consumed is sure to vary greatly across those 2 rigs, I'm sure the office rig running dual 19" monitors will be consuming a lot more.
     
  15. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    I should have mentioned the above Win7 system is running with two 22" Samsung widescreens, and right now TM is reporting DWM is consuming 10,400K of memory with 0% CPU.
     
  16. TechOutsider

    TechOutsider Registered Member

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    Riva Tuner can work in conjunction with ATI Catalyst and unlocks some features of Catalyst, such as overclocking.
     
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