Graphic card stole memory


Dec 3, 2008
I have two 9800gt SLI in my motherboard Gigabyte M750SLI-DS4
I put 2 stick of OCZ 2GB (OCZ XTC Platinum OCZ2P10662G) each but Windows XP detect only 2GB (bios, everest, cpu-Z see the all 4gb)
I make a lot of test and I found the problem... each graphic card stole 512gb of RAM. (when I remove one of them, the RAM is back)
I Don't have any option in the BIOS for the control of quantity of RAM reserve for my graphic card.
How I can control this amount of memory. I want this memory back!!!!


Dec 21, 2006
32 bit operating systems can only address 4gb of memory total, INCLUDING graphics memory, in order to work at all your GPU's have to take memory addresses that could otherwise be allocated to ram.

The only way you can make use of all your ram and your GPU's is to run a 64 bit operating system...


Upgrade to Vista Home Premium 64-bit. That will give you access to all 4 GB, even more if you add more RAM sticks later. You'd also get DirectX 10, which makes some games look better.

Your other choice is XP 64-bit, but that's risky for games and doesn't have DirectX 10 either.


In a computer all bytes in the memory system need a unique name. This is called an address. For example, if you have 2 GB of main memory, then there are 2147483648 bytes of RAM in your machine, each of which require an address for the operating system to communicate to it. To give these all an address you need 31 bits to do it. Now, if/when you have 32 bits, you can name 4 GB (2 bytes to the 32nd power = 4GB).

This is why the total addressable space available in a 32 bit OS is 4GB – the OS runs out of addresses and cannot communicate/locate any more bytes of memory because of that.

You may think ”Hey, 4GB of address space… 4GB of RAM… What’s the problem” The problem is that memory isn’t the only thing needing an address. If you install a total of 4GB worth of RAM, the system will detect/use/display less than 4GB of total memory because of address space allocation for other critical functions, such as:

- System BIOS (including motherboard, add-on cards, etc..)
- Motherboards resources
- Memory mapped I/O
- Configuration for AGP/PCI-Ex/PCI
- Other memory allocations for PCI devices

Different onboard devices and different add-on cards (devices) will result of different total memory size. e.g. more PCI cards installed will require more memory resources, resulting of less memory free for other uses.

This limitation applies to most chipsets & Windows XP/Vista 32-bit version operating systems. Again, this is a limitation of the Operating System not having enough address space to allocate to the system *and* the RAM. Not allocating address space to devices renders them inoperable. Not allocating addresses to RAM simply results in the unaddressed section not being used in an otherwise fully functional computer. Therefore the OS designers assign RAM last.

We can have long debates about mathematical fundamentals and discussions about why the original Windows designers couldn't allocate the full theoretical max of 36 bits of address space so that users today would be able to use more resource. But at the end of the day, the designers and engineers 'Didn't Then'. So we 'Can't Now'.

If you install a Windows operating system, and if more than 3GB memory is required for your system, then the below conditions must be met:

1. A memory controller which supports memory swap functionality is used. The latest chipsets like Intel 975X, 955X, Nvidia NF4 SLI Intel Edition, Nvidia NF4 SLI X16, AMD K8 and newer architectures can support the memory swap function.

2. Installation of Windows XP Pro X64 Ed. (64-bit), Windows Vista 64, or other OS which can provide more than 4GB worth of address space.

Note: According to the latest Change Log published by Microsoft, Windows Vista 32bit SP1 will display the installed amount of RAM. This is a display change only.

Regarding PAE –

In order to get around the 4GB limit in a 32 bit OS, there is a functionality called “Physical Address Extensions”. Among other things, this allows an added table the OS can use to add the “same” address in more than one place. Think of this as adding a "street name" to your "address". 1234567890 on table A is not the same as 1234567890 on table B. The limitation is that this *must* be provided for in your programs and drivers in order to work. If your mailman only looks at the '1234567890' but never looks at the street name, then he can and will sometimes deliver a letter to the wrong place. The same thing is true of PAE - If/when then individual program haven’t been coded to look in multiple tables for the needed memory locations in addition to the numerical addresses, messages can and will often go to the wrong place. In Windows, this is a called a “memory access violation”, and results in a blue screen. Additionally, individual programs under PAE can still only use up to 4 GB. Kernels and drivers can be made aware of PAE, but they can still only use 4 GB ranges at a time.

In short: PAE is not that great. In a server environment the number/version/type of programs and drivers can be tightly controlled, so this works and so this functionality is available on server versions of 32 bit Windows (NT, 2003, 2006, etc). In a consumer environment, this is not true at all.

Bottom line for ‘regular’ users: If you want to use 4 GB of RAM or more, then you should buy 64-bit hardware and use a 64-bit OS.
He has 4GB RAM installed.
He has 1GB of GFX RAM (2x 9800 GTX's), so his maximum possible should be 3GB.

If anything, he should have around 2.75GB of RAM, not 2GB. Do you have any sound card/PCI devices that could be eating some of your RAM up?


Dec 22, 2008
I can tell you from experience that 2 video cards use up more address space than a single card. I upgraded my Win XP 32 bit system (with 4 x 1 GB sticks of system ram) from a 8600 GT SLI (256 MB per card = 512 MB) setup to a 9800 GT single card with 512 MB.

Under the SLI configuration, Windows could address 2.5 GB of ram.
Under the single card setup, Windows now has 2.75 GB or ram.

This is while not using any other PCI cards. (Onboard sound and network.)

So, in most cases, I would suspect the installation of a second video card would "take" another 256 MB over its own ram of your available 4 GB total.

There is a reason 32 bit OS users should stick with fast processor low ram video cards over average processor and "more" ram. (Example: 9800 GT with 512 MB vs. 9600 GT with 1 GB.)