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The Nvidia GTX 970 controversy refers to the issue about memory problems of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 970 graphics card, which was supposed to have 4GB of VRAM, when in reality, it has 3.5GB of high-speed 224-bit VRAM and 0.5GB of slow-performing VRAM on a narrower 32-bit bus. This started some troll recommendations about it on some communities like 4chan's board /v/, giving it the nickname of the "meme card".
The GeForce and Maxwell architecture
GeForce is a line of graphics processing units developed and marketed by Nvidia for the consumer and enthusiast market, first introduced in 1999 starting with the GeForce 256. While not exactly the first graphics processor, the 256 was billed by the company as "the first GPU", consolidating lighting, geometry and other units into a single chip, though games that took advantage of T&L didn't appear on the market until several years later.
"Maxwell", named after the physicist and mathematician James Clerk Maxwell, was first introduced in 2014 in the form of two GPU chipsets, namely GM107, used on the GeForce GTX 745, GTX 750/750 Ti and GTX 850M/860M, and GM108 for the GTX 830M/840M mobile GPUs. While they offered few user-facing features, Nvidia made up for this with their emphasis on power efficiency. The second-generation Maxwell, to which the GTX 970 is based on, introduced new technologies, namely voxel-based global illumination and new forms of anti-aliasing.
GTX 970 memory issues
While initially claimed to be using "4GB" of GDDR5 memory, further testing reveals that the 970 rarely accessed memory over the 3.5 GB ceiling. Applications that attempt to access more than 3.5GB of VRAM suffered from performance penalties.
On /v/, the controversy started a series of spamming threads with the message "Looking in to getting a GTX 970. Which brand should I get?" and an image of the GTX 970. A post on one of this threads, on November 13, 2014, refered to the GTX 970 as a "meme card". This term would be used later to refer to the card series, mainly the GTX 9X0 series.
Lawsuit and eventual apology
The ensuing controversy prompted some to file a class-action suit against Nvidia and Gigabyte Technology, one of its board partners, in the U.S. District Court for Northern California. Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia's CEO and co-founder, went to the company's blog to issue an apology in an attempt to appease gamers. The company also offered refunds to those who previously bought a GTX 970, after clarifying that a promised driver update to mitigate issues was a miscommunication on their part and will not be feasible.
 Archieve.moe – Looking in to getting a GTX 970. Which brand should I get?