Apple to offer 32GB of desktop RAM in top-end 2017 MacBook Pro, 16GB for 12" MacBook

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited June 2020
Answering the call of professional users, Apple is predicted to offer a high-end MacBook Pro model in 2017 with up to 32 gigabytes of -- potentially desktop-class -- RAM, while bumping 12-inch MacBook to 16GB of RAM.




In a note to investors obtained by AppleInsider on Monday, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says he expects Apple's 2017 laptop line to focus on internal component updates, notably platform-wide adoption of Intel's Kaby Lake architecture.

Of interest to professionals, Apple is predicted to start manufacture of a 15-inch MacBook Pro with up to 32GB of RAM in the fourth quarter, double the memory allotment of current top-of-the-line models. Kuo speculates the company will be forced to adopt desktop RAM due to restrictions of current memory system designs.

Apple took flak in releasing its latest MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models with a hard memory cap of 16GB, an minimal allotment viewed as a negative for imaging and video professionals. Responding to customer criticism, Apple said the move was made in a bid to maximize battery life.

On more than one occasion, SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller defended the decision to limit RAM allotments to 16GB, saying higher amounts would require a power-hungry memory controller unsuitable for use in portable machines.

"The MacBook Pro uses 16GB of very fast LPDDR memory, up to 2133MHz," Schiller said in November. "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."

Essentially, the Intel Skylake CPUs used in Apple's MacBook Pro only support up to 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM at 2133MHz. Though Intel does make processors capable of addressing more than 16GB of memory, those particular chipsets rely on less efficient DDR4 RAM and are usually deployed in desktops with access to dedicated mains power.

In order to achieve high memory allotments and keep unplugged battery life performance on par with existing MacBook Pro models, Apple will need to move to an emerging memory technology like LPDDR4 or DDR4L. Such hardware is on track for release later this year.

Beyond the high-end 15-inch model, Kuo expects Apple to start production of new 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros in the third quarter of 2017.

As for the 12-inch MacBook, Kuo believes next-generation versions of the thin-and-light will enter mass production in the second quarter with the same basic design aesthetic introduced in 2015. New for 2017 is a 16GB memory option that will make an appearance thanks to Intel's new processor class.

Debuted in 2015, the MacBook thin-and-light has for its short lifetime maxed out at 8GB of RAM, limiting its utility as a professional machine.

On MacBook sales, Kuo blames unforeseen production delays for Apple's poor year-over-year performance in 2016. Recent statistics from market research firm Gartner showed Mac shipments slump 8.7 percent for the year, the worst result from a top-five PC vendor.

According to Kuo, Apple has rectified supply chain bottlenecks and is on scheduled to return Mac to growth in 2017. Further, channel checks reveal replacement demand for MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is better than expected despite carrying a hefty price premium, the analyst says. To keep up with demand, capacity has been expanded by 50 percent.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar, however, is not faring as well. Kuo believes Apple will apply deep discounts to boost shipments later this year as it looks to the low-end pro model as a replacement for the 13-inch MacBook Air.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 74
    Jdmr1701Jdmr1701 Posts: 8unconfirmed, member
    They will most likely have 32GB as an option. What limited the 2016 MBP was the processor also. It maxed out at 16GB of memory. As far as I know that is all that Intel was making that Apple uses in their laptops. I really don't see the Macbook getting 16GB of memory right now unless there is a beefier CPU in that thing to handle more load. I haven't any experience with that laptop but have heard it is pretty slow and noticeably so. I don't think that will every or ever has been used as a professional laptop. Just wish they had little better options for the touchbar less MBP. Something I might be more interested in, but they wanted that to be an air replacement. UGH.
  • Reply 2 of 74
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,038member
    When is Cannonlake due? Seems like this year to use desktop-class RAM in a MBP in Kaby Lake when they can just avoid that with Cannonlake would be both the most reasonable as well as typical move for Apple. From my vantage point the cost to include it in Kaby Lake (or Skylake) given what I predict are very low sales volume means it's highly unlikely to happen.
    tmayration al
  • Reply 3 of 74
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,966member
    Jdmr1701 said:
    They will most likely have 32GB as an option. What limited the 2016 MBP was the processor also. 
    I thought the issue was power consumption of the larger memory chips causing unacceptable battery drain. Given the battery life issues they've been having I'm sure they're not too keen to add another potential issue.

    Apple has historically charged a premium for memory upgrades in it's computers - I have no reason to expect that to change should they add a 32GB option; the fact that all the memory is soldered in place just means that you don't have the option of getting an aftermarket upgrade like you can with an iMac. 
  • Reply 4 of 74
    dws-2dws-2 Posts: 277member
    I think this is poorly informed speculation. Intel's chips that allow 32 GB and work in the MBP's power envelope will not be available in 2017, at least not according to their roadmap. Based on Intel's roadmap and recent performance, I can only hope they might be available in 2018.

    Edit: Apparently, they think Apple is going to design a special portable with desktop performance. I also doubt this, but at least it's possible.
    edited January 2017 williamlondonMetriacanthosaurusjasenj1
  • Reply 5 of 74
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,038member
    dws-2 said:
    I think this is poorly informed speculation. Intel's chips that allow 32 GB and work in the MBP's power envelope will not be available in 2017, at least not according to their roadmap. Based on Intel's roadmap and recent performance, I can only hope they might be available in 2018.
    If we speculate the return of the 17" model, it might be possible. That said, I still think rumour is both highly suspect and unlikely.
    dws-2tmay
  • Reply 6 of 74
    Jdmr1701 said:
    ...I really don't see the Macbook getting 16GB of memory right now unless there is a beefier CPU in that thing to handle more load. I haven't any experience with that laptop but have heard it is pretty slow and noticeably so. I don't think that will every or ever has been used as a professional laptop...
    Don't underestimate those little MacBooks. My wife has the base model - m3 CPU, 8GB RAM - and it is a very useful machine that she uses to run her business. She runs MS Office all day, writes extensively, sends out invoices, creates presentation materials, organizes large bodies of images, etc. - in other words, a lot of real typical work. And it's just fine. She loves that it's so small and light, and how clear and bright the screen is. She takes it everywhere. In other words, I lot of people - perhaps a majority - could use the little MacBook and never notice that it's significantly slower than a Pro, because it does everything they actually need. There are of course people who genuinely need more, and this machine is not for them.
    williamlondonStrangeDaysmacpluspluschiaRayz2016pulseimagesredgeminipatechprod1gyyojimbo007bartfat
  • Reply 7 of 74
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,871member
    MplsP said:
    Jdmr1701 said:
    They will most likely have 32GB as an option. What limited the 2016 MBP was the processor also. 
    I thought the issue was power consumption of the larger memory chips causing unacceptable battery drain. Given the battery life issues they've been having I'm sure they're not too keen to add another potential issue.

    Apple has historically charged a premium for memory upgrades in it's computers - I have no reason to expect that to change should they add a 32GB option; the fact that all the memory is soldered in place just means that you don't have the option of getting an aftermarket upgrade like you can with an iMac. 
    This issue was the processor/chipset combination Apple had to use in the 2016 MacBook Pro doesn't support LPDDR4 RAM so they had to use LPDDR3 RAM which makes it so they cannot offer 32GB of RAM due to limitations of LPDDR3. They could have used DDR4 RAM, but then it would have sacrificed battery life so Apple chose to keep its 10hr battery life claim instead of offering 32GB of RAM using more power hungry RAM.
    edited January 2017 StrangeDayschiafastasleepredgeminipaneo-techewtheckman
  • Reply 8 of 74
    Soli said:
    When is Cannonlake due? Seems like this year to use desktop-class RAM in a MBP in Kaby Lake when they can just avoid that with Cannonlake would be both the most reasonable as well as typical move for Apple. From my vantage point the cost to include it in Kaby Lake (or Skylake) given what I predict are very low sales volume means it's highly unlikely to happen.
    Cannon Lake I believe is only 5.2 and 15 watt chips which I guess could be used for the MacBook. Expected Late 2017. Coffee Lake 15, 28 and 45 watt mobile processors expected early 2018. These will be 14nm. Cannon will be 10nm. Coffee Lake U and H series for mobile, S and X series desktop. Reports are saying Intel may offer a 6 core in H, S and X to counter AMD Summit Ridge 2017 chips which will be offered with 8 cores. 

    Of course with Intel all of this can change. 

    tmaywilliamlondonRayz2016neo-tech
  • Reply 9 of 74
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,450member
    Does anyone that has the new MacBook like it? Maybe Apple spent too much effort on that "nobody asked for it" led strip and forgot about what a pro needs from a pro machine. 
    larryjwwilliamlondonbrucemcavon b7
  • Reply 10 of 74
    anomeanome Posts: 1,533member
    spice-boy said:
    Does anyone that has the new MacBook like it? Maybe Apple spent too much effort on that "nobody asked for it" led strip and forgot about what a pro needs from a pro machine. 
    I really like mine. I'm not using the Touchbar much, but I do use TouchID all the time. And in terms of performance, it's running great.
    pulseimagesredgeminipadjkfisher
  • Reply 11 of 74
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,871member
    spice-boy said:
    Does anyone that has the new MacBook like it? Maybe Apple spent too much effort on that "nobody asked for it" led strip and forgot about what a pro needs from a pro machine. 

    Apple always introduces things "nobody asks for" in a product, especially a new product. People don't always know what they want so you can't sit around looking at everything everyone wants all the time when designing a new product. This isn't anything new. Sometimes, Apple tells you what you want and when you use one of their products you feel like "yeah I really wanted this feature", even though you didn't know it. 
    StrangeDayswilliamlondonpscooter63redgeminiparoundaboutnow
  • Reply 12 of 74
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 1,032member
    The issue with Intel not delivering improved chips sounds vaguely familiar to problems Apple had with Motorola and the PowerPC chips. 

    With Apple's hoard of cash, and knowledge of chip design with the ARM architecture, it might be in Apple's favor to drop intel and build their own 86 processors. 
    80s_Apple_Guypulseimagesredgeminipa
  • Reply 13 of 74
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,038member
    atlapple said:
    Soli said:
    When is Cannonlake due? Seems like this year to use desktop-class RAM in a MBP in Kaby Lake when they can just avoid that with Cannonlake would be both the most reasonable as well as typical move for Apple. From my vantage point the cost to include it in Kaby Lake (or Skylake) given what I predict are very low sales volume means it's highly unlikely to happen.
    Cannon Lake I believe is only 5.2 and 15 watt chips which I guess could be used for the MacBook. Expected Late 2017. Coffee Lake 15, 28 and 45 watt mobile processors expected early 2018. These will be 14nm. Cannon will be 10nm. Coffee Lake U and H series for mobile, S and X series desktop. Reports are saying Intel may offer a 6 core in H, S and X to counter AMD Summit Ridge 2017 chips which will be offered with 8 cores. 

    Of course with Intel all of this can change. 
    I only know what I read about when the architecture will support more than 16GiB of LP-DDR RAM. I would've assumed that every step in ‘Process-Architecture-Optimization' would offer chips for the wild range of devices, but that's just speculation as I don't recall hearing otherwise until now.
  • Reply 14 of 74
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,871member
    larryjw said:
    The issue with Intel not delivering improved chips sounds vaguely familiar to problems Apple had with Motorola and the PowerPC chips. 

    With Apple's hoard of cash, and knowledge of chip design with the ARM architecture, it might be in Apple's favor to drop intel and build their own 86 processors. 
    You can bet your ass they're working on this right now. We see them getting every A series processor more and more powerful, even with graphics. You can bet they're working in a desktop/laptop equivalent for the "just in case", if not for actually planning on a release with one. Since Microsoft is working on Windows desktop apps for ARM this could be what many are asking for if Apple switches to ARM processors in some of their products (like the 12" MacBook and maybe the Mac mini). 

    I don't see every product moving to ARM, at least right away. Like I said, maybe the 12" MacBook and Mac mini could move over to start, then possibly a low end iMac and maybe the 13" MacBook Pro. It really depends on how powerful they can get their processors and use less power. 
    edited January 2017 redgeminipa
  • Reply 15 of 74
    Chris JChris J Posts: 4unconfirmed, member
    Hasn't this discussion been had before? Mr Kuo can speculate all he likes but the implications from the intel roadmap are pretty clear...

    It's very unlikely we will see a MBP with 32 GB RAM this year. Both skylake and Kaby Lake professor families do support >16GB RAM but LPDDR3 is only supported up to 16GB. Anything more will need to be DDR4, which is too detrimental to battery life to be feasible.

    The Kaby Lake processors bring better on-chip graphics performance so it might be worth an update for the MacBook range but it's not really worth it for the pro range, which utilise the AMD Radeon discrete graphics and therefore wouldn't really benefit.

    In the absence of an unlikely switch to new processor architectures by Apple, Everything on the intel roadmap points to the next 13/15" MacBook to refresh being 2H 2018 with Coffee Lake processors.
    ai46tmaypscooter63Rayz2016pulseimages
  • Reply 16 of 74
    spice-boy said:
    Does anyone that has the new MacBook like it? Maybe Apple spent too much effort on that "nobody asked for it" led strip and forgot about what a pro needs from a pro machine. 
    Or maybe that's poppycock?
    williamlondonRayz2016pulseimagessmiffy31
  • Reply 17 of 74
    Watch them charge $2,000 extra just for the memory too. Crooks!
    Except that's preposterous and you know it.
    williamlondonredgeminipa
  • Reply 18 of 74
    Here is a post on OS settings to improve RAM availability, and arguably privacy:

    macperformanceguide.com/blog/2017/20170110_1000-macOS-bloatWare.html



  • Reply 19 of 74
    Only way the MacBook Pro is getting 32gb is a complete redesign due to intel not supporting LPDDR4 until coffee Lake in 2018 if intel adds support for it that is. I don't see this happening as if you really need 32gb then might as well buy an iMac which also has a desktop class CPU. 
    williamlondonnubus
  • Reply 20 of 74
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    anome said:
    Watch them charge $2,000 extra just for the memory too. Crooks!

    Let's see, they're going to release the 32GB memory "everyone" has been after, which is going to introduce engineering challenges - it won't be LPDDR4, as that's still not supported, so they're going to have to install desktop memory in a notebook, while not sacrifice portability or battery life, and you're complaining they might just charge a bit extra for?

    Would you like them to bring you a pony, too?

    I suppose it doesn't matter, they could offer everything everyone's been asking for, and we'd still only hear "but it doesn't come in Jet Black" or "it doesn't have a 5.25" floppy drive" or some other niggling complaint.

    I'm not convinced that using desktop RAM in the rMBP is a great idea, mostly for the reasons I hinted at above.


    Hey now those 5.25" drives are now collectors items.

     As for the ""desktop RAM"" I thought the quote was desktop class RAM which could mean anything at this point. As for LPDRR4 RAM, who knows Intel could be working on a Kaby Lake variant to support that interface. Desktop RAM by the way could be construed to mean RAM in plug in modules.

     In any event for me RAM isn't a shortcoming on these 2016 MBP, the tiny battery is. Until they address the batteries power capacity it really doesn't matter what they do with the rest of the machine. Real "pro" usage on battery power, just drains the battery to damn fast on these machines. We can only hope that the rumored new battery technology comes through and we get back real run time.
    edited January 2017
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