Schiller: doubling MacBook Pro RAM would’ve reduced space for batteries

By , Nov 21, 2016

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Software developer Ben Slaney asked Apple via email to give a more detailed clarification as to why the new MacBook Pro does not provide a 32-gigabyte build-to-order option for power users looking to max out the RAM. He allegedly received a response from Phil Schiller, who is boss of worldwide marketing at Apple and the steward of the firm’s developer relations.

Schiller’s response reveals that doubling the RAM from 16 to 32 gigabytes would have required a different logic board design versus the notebook’s mustache-shaped logic board, one that would have reduced space for batteries.

Schiller’s alleged response, in full:

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. 

In other words, doubling the RAM would have required using DDR4 RAM that’s unsupported by the Intel chips powering the new Pro. Slaney found out that LPDDR3E RAM chips in the new Pro (a low power, enhanced version of DDR3 RAM) normally use 1.5 watts of power whereas faster DDR4 memory would use about 3-5 watts of power:

It’s impossible to get an exact figure on it, but depending on the usage it can be estimated that between two and five watts are saved using LPDDR3E RAM instead of DDR4. And since the system averages to drawing about 20 watts on battery in normal usage, this can be said to be the difference of the RAM using two watts versus three to six watts for DDR4.

Translated to overall power usage that would make the difference of ten percent of power being dedicated to RAM versus the 20-30 percent it would be for DDR4.

When an average notebook with DDR4 RAM enters sleep mode, which is known as background power draw, the RAM itself consumes nearly half the overall power draw versus just 20 percent when using LPDDR3 RAM. Using DDR4 RAM would have decreased the Pro’s standby time from 30 days to less than one week, he concluded.

With DDR4 they’d have produced a notebook that would have a completely drained battery if it was at 50 percent charge and you closed the lid and left it for a few days. Not only would that be annoying, but by running the battery flat often it would end up damaging a percentage of their batteries because they’d frequently get 100 percent discharged, which puts a lot of stress on them, and sometimes even kills them.

In conclusion, Slaney wrote that several high-end Windows notebooks that utilize DDR4 RAM don’t get nearly as much battery performance as advertised.

Battery life of the Dell XPS 15 with 32GB RAM was found to be disappointing, garnering only 5 hours 40 minutes of video playback from its 84 Whr battery.

“This is a far cry from Dell’s advertised battery life of 17 hours,” wrote ExpertReviews.

Schiller previously emailed a reader inquiring about the RAM situation on the new MacBook Pro, saying doubling the RAM would have negatively impacted battery life:

To put more than 16GB of fast RAM into a notebook design at this time would require a memory system that consumes much more power and wouldn’t be efficient enough for a notebook. I hope you check out this new generation MacBook Pro, it really is an incredible system.

The 16GB-limit stems from Apple’s decision to use Intel’s Skylake chips rather than the latest Kaby Lake platform that was unveiled in August. As we thoroughly explained, while Skylake chips in the new Pros do support 2133 MHz LPDDR3E RAM—they don’t support for LPDDR4 RAM.

Summing up, costly Kaby Lake chips are needed to support DDR4 RAM.

It gets even more complicated than that because Kaby Lake is set to include support for a power-sipping “LP” variant of DDR4 RAM, but only for the slower “U” category of chips for ultra-thin notebooks like the MacBook Air and the twelve-inch MacBook.

Kaby Lake may not support LPDDR4 RAM on notebooks until late next year or 2018.

Source: MacDaddy

 

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  • Natalie

    What the f#ck IDB. That first quote was 37 words long. Your TL;DR version of it was 46 characters long

    • JulianZH

      First world problem right there.

    • Agneev Mukherjee

      WTF?

  • Rolf Bause

    What is next? “Schiller: Including physical ESC button would’ve dramatically reduced space for batteries too.”

  • Mr_Coldharbour

    Maybe if the chassis wasn’t obsessively thin, battery capacity would not have been an issue.

    • askep3

      Honestly, I have the 13 inch and the battery life is 6-7 hours so far

      • Remember when you first get a MacBook it’s doing lots of first-time stuff like indexing and updates. Battery life should level out soon.

      • askep3

        It’s almost been a week (will be on Wednesday) how long does it usually take to finish indexing? I set up as new so it doesn’t have old files

      • Mr_Coldharbour

        It depends what you do on the Mac, if you do any graphics intensive or CPU intensive tasks then it’s normal. Also it depends how old your battery is. There might also be a bad process or something running rampant causing less than expected battery life. The next time you’re on your Mac, open up Activity Monitor found in the Utilities folder, click on the Energy tab and see what’s eating away at the battery. Maybe take into the Apple Store or have Apple send someone over to take it in for a checkup and possibly change the battery. Also, if you happen to be sitting on your desk all day it’s better to just leave it plugged in to the power outlet. The less charge cycles the less wear on the battery in the long run. When not in use unplug of course. Use the actual Mac’s battery no more than once a week and don’t be in the habit of draining it completely or reaching the red too much.

      • askep3

        I’ve been keeping tabs on activity monitor all the time, the mac is brand new, and I’m just web browsing occasionally watching videos and listening to music via headphones. I’m guessing the issue is that it is the MacBook Pro

      • Mr_Coldharbour

        If you feel there’s something wrong then take it in to Apple for repairs or you can call them up and they’ll send someone over to pick it up for you. As I said, if you do a lot of your work sitting on a desk on your Mac then keep it plugged in while in use then unplug when not in use. Use the battery no more than once a week but do not be in the habit of completely draining it, it just puts more wear on the battery. Idea is to keep charge cycles to a minimum if you can. Let a charge cycle last longer.

    • leart

      I’m with you but for the most people I know who have a MacBook they go crazy for the slim size of their Mac

  • burge

    Instead of telling your customers (Apple) what they want, why don’t you listen to what your customers are asking for.

  • mwpitt52

    Hate to break the news but the new MacBook Pro is nothing more than a 13 -15 inch iPhone.

    • gary

      Lol you can’t be serious… Go back to whatever Windows circle jerk blog you came from.

      • mwpitt52

        Nope. Just bought the 2015 MacBook Retina. Maybe your profile pic can be used for the Windows circle jerk blog.

      • gary

        So then why did you just buy a MacBook if it’s nothing more than a large iPhone? Also, I think it’s funny you don’t recognize my profile picture…

      • mwpitt52

        Gezz your an idiot. I said the new MacBook Pro looks like an iPhone. The 2015 MacBook Pro is the old style.

      • gary

        lol I know exactly what you said, and I have the same MacBook. And you didn’t say it LOOKS LIKE an iPhone, yout just said it’s LIKE an iPhone. Which couldn’t be more wrong.

      • mwpitt52

        I guess your right, Apple did leave in the headphone jack. No usable ports, keyboard is horrible, no more iconic glowing Apple logo just a metal sticker( like the iPhone), smaller ( getting close to iPhone Plus size),cannot upgrade storage. What a deal for a higher price.

  • jaimem17

    I’m sure people looking for a new laptop will choose the Macbook because it is the same as last gen except thinner. Next Macbook will be a screen and a touchscreen as a keyboard, same RAM, same screen, same battery life, one USB C port and paper thin. Same same but different. Save this comment.