Phil Schiller again defends Touch Bar MacBook Pro's 16GB RAM limitation

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited November 2016
Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller is on a personal quest to stop the spread of misinformation about the company's new MacBook Pro flagship, as the executive penned another email outlining the why and how of Apple's decision to limit RAM allotments to 16GB.




Schiller in a brief response to an article published by developer Ben Slaney explained Apple's decision to use speedy and efficient LPDDR3 memory, of which Intel's latest processors can handle up to 16GB, was in large part due to battery life concerns.

"The MacBook Pro uses 16GB of very fast LPDDR memory, up to 2133MHz," Schiller said. "To support 32GB of memory would require using DDR memory that is not low power and also require a different design of the logic board which might reduce space for batteries. Both factors would reduce battery life."

The response clarified an error in Slaney's attempt to explain why MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models maxed out at 16GB of RAM, which claimed the LPDDR3E specification tops out at 1866MHz.

As noted by AppleInsider in October, the Intel Skylake CPUs deployed in Apple's new MacBook Pro units only support up to 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM at 2133MHz. Intel does market products capable of addressing more than 16GB of memory, but those chipsets rely on less efficient DDR4 RAM.

Ultimately, MacBook Pro will need an emerging memory technology like LPDDR4 or DDR4L to achieve higher allotments with similar or better battery life performance. Apple will likely implement fast and efficient LPDDR4 memory in a future MacBook Pro with Intel's Kaby Lake processors, though silicon supporting the RAM standard is not due for release until the end of 2017.

Apple has seen an unusual amount of criticism with the launch of this year's MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. From a lack of external ports to mediocre RAM allotments, critics say MacBook Pro fails to meet the needs of the professional demographic it targets.

For its part, Apple asserts its top-of-the-line laptop is an exercise in balancing performance with energy efficiency. In the case of system memory, underlying technology enabling high-capacity, high-efficiency RAM is simply unavailable at this time.

Schiller previously addressed the 16GB memory restriction in an email to a concerned customer last month.
Soli
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 119
    I saw it, I tried it, and now I'm buying it.
    edited November 2016 Solidws-2pscooter631stwatto_cobralolliverargonautjony0
  • Reply 2 of 119
    The bad press stems mostly from lazy journalism, bad apple news is an easy click bait, second to this they go to reddit to get a public opinion rather than the people who actually buy apple devices. Reddit stopped being a source of general opinion long ago. It mostly started during the smartphone wars, but has been heavily astroturfed by Samsung and Google. Apple could give their hardware away for $1 and reddit would still deride it.

    Of special intrigue is that all of the negative reviews were not from actual device usage or from pro end users, nearly all negative reviews weren't based on using the device but rather a perception/rejection of USB-C and only the numeric specifications that suited their pre-written narrative. (E.g. Pretty much all ignored the SSD speed, but focused a lot of time on the 16gb ram limit - when obviously one plays into the other.)

    Now that the device is in the hands of users, we're seeing bona fide reviews come through - and unsurprisingly the people who aren't being paid to talk about the device love it.


    MikeymikeSolilamboaudi4roundaboutnowdws-2uniscapewatto_cobrabrucemcration aljbdragon
  • Reply 3 of 119
    Yeah because there's no way you could make the device thicker and give it a bigger battery.
    strellsdysamoriabdkennedy1002waverboySpamSandwichbrian greenavon b7ewtheckmangoodbyeranchsingularity
  • Reply 4 of 119
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,758member
    Here we go again....needless 32GB debate Round 2!!!!
    ericthehalfbeeSolirezwitssphericwatto_cobrabrucemcration aljbdragonlolliverurahara
  • Reply 5 of 119
    jorgie said:
    Yeah because there's no way you could make the device thicker and give it a bigger battery.
    This.

    The thin and light design requirement is the problem, not the technology.  Trust me, I honestly want one of these machines, but I don't care if it weighs an extra pound and is a little bit thicker due to a bigger battery that can power more RAM.  I'm sure most pros don't care as well.
    edited November 2016 dysamoriabdkennedy1002waverboySpamSandwichbrian greenavon b7jibberjdigitolewtheckmandtb200
  • Reply 6 of 119
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,539member
    strells said:
    jorgie said:
    Yeah because there's no way you could make the device thicker and give it a bigger battery.
    This.

    The thin and light design requirement is the problem, not the technology.  Trust me, I honestly want one of these machines, but I don't care if it weighs an extra pound and is a little bit thicker due to a bigger battery that can power more RAM.  I'm sure most pros don't care as well.
    And why stop with these notebook-grade components. They should put desktop-grade components in there because professionals don't care about portability or battery life¡
    thewhitefalconmike1lamboaudi4roundaboutnowradarthekatRayz2016pscooter63sphericmacxpresswatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 119
    ...well I bought one, and am still hunting for a solution to possible DisplayPort connectivity... The screen is beautiful, and it is lighter, and faster, and the control strip is elegant, if incidental. Weight & battery are less issues for me, vs 17" & 1980x1200+, needing more a portable desktop (aka pro?) The potential for up to 4 displays seemed compelling, yet the inflexibility in monitors (no displayport), future ram and drive options seem nagging. MacOS memory management is remarkable given the limits, yet if I cannot find a reliable DisplayPort solution this may be going back. If I could buy Apple TB Displays then maybe (discontinued), but I don't feel I should have to, and I have no interest in plastic LG displays... Unfortunately when Apple chooses for us, the way they seem to do, there always seems to be something...
    edited November 2016 securtisbrian greenavon b7netmage
  • Reply 8 of 119
    misamisa Posts: 827member
    macxpress said:
    Here we go again....needless 32GB debate Round 2!!!!
    Yup.

    Anyone who actually buys this years model of MacBook Pro is going to be disappointed when next years model will likely get 32GB ram and has better battery life.

    That said, most people don't need 16GB, let alone 8GB.

    Like, right now on my Windows 10 Desktop PC which had 32GB of ram, only 16GB of ram is ever really utilized. I have like 40 tabs open between three web browsers, and 70 tabs open in a text editor. For the sake of not destroying a SSD quickly, more RAM is preferred because it means the page file is rarely used. In fact I have it set to 0MB on my system. 

    Now what actually uses 16GB? Well first of all only 64bit applications can use it, which means that web browsers (which aren't completely 64-bit aware, nor are they multi-threaded) don't ever make use of more RAM even when it's available. The only application I have that is native 64-bit is Photoshop. Everything else doesn't have much or any advantage to being compiled 64-bit. 64-bit apps wind up a bit faster due to simply not having to go through the WoW32 layer.

    A Mac with 32GB or 64GB is overkill and unless you're dealing with Final Cut Pro with 4K videos (including editing videos from an iPhone 6S or 7) you're still not likely to be able to utilize it.

    Now, the fact that the RAM is soldered onto the MacBook Pro, means that you should buy the model with the most RAM because you will not be upgrading it. So if you need 32GB, wait for next years model, or don't use a MacBook Pro.
    avon b7macxpressration al
  • Reply 9 of 119
    Soli said:
    strells said:
    jorgie said:
    Yeah because there's no way you could make the device thicker and give it a bigger battery.
    This.

    The thin and light design requirement is the problem, not the technology.  Trust me, I honestly want one of these machines, but I don't care if it weighs an extra pound and is a little bit thicker due to a bigger battery that can power more RAM.  I'm sure most pros don't care as well.
    And why stop with these notebook-grade components. They should put desktop-grade components in there because professionals don't care about portability or battery life¡


    Why stop there? Imagine the battery life you could get in this chassis today!

    Of course, you'd run afoul of the 100wh FAA limits for air travel, and maybe not everyone wants a 16 pound machine, but...
    tmaybb-15radarthekatsphericration algeorgie01netmagejbdragonlolliverargonaut
  • Reply 10 of 119
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,539member
    Soli said:
    strells said:
    jorgie said:
    Yeah because there's no way you could make the device thicker and give it a bigger battery.
    This.

    The thin and light design requirement is the problem, not the technology.  Trust me, I honestly want one of these machines, but I don't care if it weighs an extra pound and is a little bit thicker due to a bigger battery that can power more RAM.  I'm sure most pros don't care as well.
    And why stop with these notebook-grade components. They should put desktop-grade components in there because professionals don't care about portability or battery life¡
    [image]

    Why stop there? Imagine the battery life you could get in this chassis today!

    Of course, you'd run afoul of the 100wh FAA limits for air travel, and maybe not everyone wants a 16 pound machine, but…
    On that display you could probably use the GPU from an Apple Watch.

    edit: Macintosh Portable came with a 640×400 display, which is more pixels than the 312×390 display in the 42mm Apple Watch. However, the Macintosh Portable only used a 1-bit B&W display so that means more data easily being pushed to the Apple Watch. $7,300 in 1989. Yikes!

    edited November 2016 bb-15pscooter63jbdragonargonaut
  • Reply 11 of 119
    anomeanome Posts: 1,237member

    It doesn't really matter what Apple does at this point. Someone's going to complain.

    Apple are kind of stuck. If they hadn't released the new shell, they still couldn't have put 32GB of RAM in, so people would still be complaining. Then, when they did release the new shell, even if it had 32GB RAM as an option, they would have copped all the flak about USB-C/TB3 and dongles. So, by releasing the new shell now, with the new ports, they cop flak for both of those things, which hopefully will have died down by the time the next version, with Kaby Lake and LPDDR4, comes out.

    The other thing that bothers me is all the people complaining "After 20/30/40 years using Apple products, I'm now going to switch to Windows/Linux/an abacus" as if we (or Apple) should care. It's perfectly legitimate to say "I don't like it, I'm buying something else", but that's just your decision. Likewise my decision to buy it because it has a bunch of neat features is just my decision. Apple will look at their sales figures at the end of the quarter, and decide whether this was the right model to bring out, they're not going to listen to a bunch of people whining on the internet about it. (Nor will they listen to a bunch of people on the internet praising it as the greatest thing ever.) Spending ages whining about how Apple have failed you, and you now have to buy Windows instead doesn't really do anything other than make you look self-involved. The only thing Apple will care about is whether you actually go buy something else instead of a Mac, and then only if enough people do it to make a bump on their sales figures.

    bb-15pscooter63macxpressbrucemcration alnetmagelolliverargonaut
  • Reply 12 of 119
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,646member
    Has any professional used a MacBook Pro  and run into any issues with 16 GB? I've seen a review where the reviewer opened every Pro app he has (and then some) and didn't run into issues while using them. 
    pulseimagesbrucemcnetmagelolliver
  • Reply 13 of 119
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,956member
    misa said:
    macxpress said:
    Here we go again....needless 32GB debate Round 2!!!!
    Yup.

    Anyone who actually buys this years model of MacBook Pro is going to be disappointed when next years model will likely get 32GB ram and has better battery life.

    That said, most people don't need 16GB, let alone 8GB.

    Like, right now on my Windows 10 Desktop PC which had 32GB of ram, only 16GB of ram is ever really utilized. I have like 40 tabs open between three web browsers, and 70 tabs open in a text editor. For the sake of not destroying a SSD quickly, more RAM is preferred because it means the page file is rarely used. In fact I have it set to 0MB on my system. 

    Now what actually uses 16GB? Well first of all only 64bit applications can use it, which means that web browsers (which aren't completely 64-bit aware, nor are they multi-threaded) don't ever make use of more RAM even when it's available. The only application I have that is native 64-bit is Photoshop. Everything else doesn't have much or any advantage to being compiled 64-bit. 64-bit apps wind up a bit faster due to simply not having to go through the WoW32 layer.

    A Mac with 32GB or 64GB is overkill and unless you're dealing with Final Cut Pro with 4K videos (including editing videos from an iPhone 6S or 7) you're still not likely to be able to utilize it.

    Now, the fact that the RAM is soldered onto the MacBook Pro, means that you should buy the model with the most RAM because you will not be upgrading it. So if you need 32GB, wait for next years model, or don't use a MacBook Pro.
    Most people aren't professionals or content creators. So is this machine aimed at professionals or not? Sounds like it's not. So why are they calling it a "pro" then?

    As for software not using more than 16GB RAM... There's definitely more software out there that's native 64-bit. But that's not the issue. 32-bit applications had an issue with >4GB RAM. We aren't talking about >4GB any more. We're talking about >16GB now.
    bdkennedy1002avon b7lolliver
  • Reply 14 of 119
    nhtnht Posts: 4,388member
    ...well I bought one, and am still hunting for a solution to possible DisplayPort connectivity... The screen is beautiful, and it is lighter, and faster, and the control strip is elegant, if incidental. Weight & battery are less issues for me, vs 17" & 1980x1200+, needing more a portable desktop (aka pro?) The potential for up to 4 displays seemed compelling, yet the inflexibility in monitors (no displayport), future ram and drive options seem nagging. MacOS memory management is remarkable given the limits, yet if I cannot find a reliable DisplayPort solution this may be going back. If I could buy Apple TB Displays then maybe (discontinued), but I don't feel I should have to, and I have no interest in plastic LG displays... Unfortunately when Apple chooses for us, the way they seem to do, there always seems to be something...
    https://www.amazon.com/StarTech-com-USB-C-DisplayPort-Adapter-Cable/dp/B01E9RTEI8/ref=pd_sim_147_10?_encoding=UTF8&refRID=C7JN76MQD0JTQCHYN09D&th=1

    https://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matters-Thunderbolt-Compatible-DisplayPort/dp/B01K51GM46/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_sims?ie=UTF8

    And many more. Connectivity with DisplayPort monitors is a non issue.

    There are are plenty of nice monitors out there.  And the LG display may not look sexy but appears to be a top notch display with tight macOS integration.  Pro monitors typically aren't all that pretty.
    roundaboutnowpscooter63pulseimagesration alnetmagelolliverargonaut
  • Reply 15 of 119
    This is a MacBook Pro. Useful right out of the box.



    edited November 2016 avon b7bloggerblogPeperino
  • Reply 16 of 119
    nhtnht Posts: 4,388member
    strells said:
    jorgie said:
    Yeah because there's no way you could make the device thicker and give it a bigger battery.
    This.

    The thin and light design requirement is the problem, not the technology.  Trust me, I honestly want one of these machines, but I don't care if it weighs an extra pound and is a little bit thicker due to a bigger battery that can power more RAM.  I'm sure most pros don't care as well.
    Dell and HP have products for you.  Enjoy.

    I debated lugging my precision into the desert next week.  I'm just going to go with a surface book and my mbp and connect them to a raid and monitor when I get there. The Dell precision will be a bit faster than the surface book but it's like going from 4 mins per run to 2 mins per run for the data processing.  Batching the processing means you have time to grab lunch whichever option you pick.  It's not instantaneous either way.

    I want to work on the plane so I prefer the lighter option...so yeah, I do care about the extra pound.  I guess I could have shipped the dell precision but if I were going to do that I'd ship a workstation instead.
  • Reply 17 of 119
    I couldn't have asked for more in a computer! It was definitely worth the wait!
    pulseimages
  • Reply 18 of 119
    strells said:
    jorgie said:
    Yeah because there's no way you could make the device thicker and give it a bigger battery.
    This.

    The thin and light design requirement is the problem, not the technology.  Trust me, I honestly want one of these machines, but I don't care if it weighs an extra pound and is a little bit thicker due to a bigger battery that can power more RAM.  I'm sure most pros don't care as well.
    I disagree. 

    The vast majority of mass produced consumer electronic devices such as the MBP is designed around the 80/20 rule.  And I would imagine the overwhelming majority of MBP users appreciate the tradeoff of much lighter weight.. to sacrifice maxing out at 32GB of ram.  Yes there are a few power users here and there who crave as much RAM as possible because they are doing all of this fancy CAD, photo or video editing.. but they make up just a few percentage of overall MBP users who use their machine for a variety of tasks and are always on the go from point A to point B.

    As someone who has owned a 2009 MB, 2010 MBP, 2011 MBA, 2014 rMBP, 2015 rMBP and 2015 rMB.  I can assure you not being able to run 32GB of RAM was the least important factor in my decision not to upgrade the 2016 rMBP.  The same goes for the switch to all USB-C ports and loss of the MagSafe connector.  

    I greatly welcome the weight savings, but my primary reason for skipping out on the '16 rMBP upgrade is price.  Once the touch bar model drops down to around $1200 street price.. I'll be trading in my '15 rMBP for it.  Chances are that wont be until next year.. when you will probably see the '17 rMBP get announced with 32GB of RAM max and Kaby Lake cpus that support 32GB of LDDR4 ram.  At that point.. I'd imagine you'd be interested in one also.  
    Soliration allolliverargonaut
  • Reply 19 of 119
    nhtnht Posts: 4,388member
    jungmark said:
    Has any professional used a MacBook Pro  and run into any issues with 16 GB? I've seen a review where the reviewer opened every Pro app he has (and then some) and didn't run into issues while using them. 
    If you want to launch multiple large VMs you can run out. But docker containers typically aren't large and VMs for browser testing can be 2-4 GB ram.  If you really need 3x8GB VMs you're better off just kicking them off on AWS and ssh'ing in.  Especially if your Devops has preloaded AMIs with your deployment configuration ready to go.  Then it's just check in your code, push it to the build server and watch as it auto deploys and do your automated testing as you surf Apple Insider.

    So, no not really except for 4K editing and higher end users of CC with multiple apps open.  If you want premier pro and after effects and resolve open, yeah...128GB RAM sounds pretty good.  32 GB likely tight.
    Soliration alnetmageargonaut
  • Reply 20 of 119

    dysamoria said:
    misa said:
    macxpress said:
    Here we go again....needless 32GB debate Round 2!!!!
    Yup.

    Anyone who actually buys this years model of MacBook Pro is going to be disappointed when next years model will likely get 32GB ram and has better battery life.

    That said, most people don't need 16GB, let alone 8GB.

    Like, right now on my Windows 10 Desktop PC which had 32GB of ram, only 16GB of ram is ever really utilized. I have like 40 tabs open between three web browsers, and 70 tabs open in a text editor. For the sake of not destroying a SSD quickly, more RAM is preferred because it means the page file is rarely used. In fact I have it set to 0MB on my system. 

    Now what actually uses 16GB? Well first of all only 64bit applications can use it, which means that web browsers (which aren't completely 64-bit aware, nor are they multi-threaded) don't ever make use of more RAM even when it's available. The only application I have that is native 64-bit is Photoshop. Everything else doesn't have much or any advantage to being compiled 64-bit. 64-bit apps wind up a bit faster due to simply not having to go through the WoW32 layer.

    A Mac with 32GB or 64GB is overkill and unless you're dealing with Final Cut Pro with 4K videos (including editing videos from an iPhone 6S or 7) you're still not likely to be able to utilize it.

    Now, the fact that the RAM is soldered onto the MacBook Pro, means that you should buy the model with the most RAM because you will not be upgrading it. So if you need 32GB, wait for next years model, or don't use a MacBook Pro.
    Most people aren't professionals or content creators. So is this machine aimed at professionals or not? Sounds like it's not. So why are they calling it a "pro" then?

    As for software not using more than 16GB RAM... There's definitely more software out there that's native 64-bit. But that's not the issue. 32-bit applications had an issue with >4GB RAM. We aren't talking about >4GB any more. We're talking about >16GB now.
    Please dont tell me you really believe the average/typical/majority of MBP user(s) are "professionals".. who somehow need 32GB of RAM in OSX.

    I run 32GB of RAM in my dedicated Windows PC.. and the only reason I did it was for shit and giggles.  I cant think of a single task I'd do where that much RAM is needed.

    As the previous poster said.. if you really need that much RAM in a MBP.. just put your money where your mouth is when Intel introduces MacBook compatible Kaby Lake CPU's next year.  Because thats the RAM limitations of SkyLake are the only reason why Apple maxed out at 16GB.  I cant wait to see how many of these internet "professionals" snatch up those $2000 32GB MacBooks next year.  
    anomemacxpressnetmage
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