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Old May 20, 2014, 01:53 PM   #1
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OS X 10.9.3 Boosts Maximum VRAM of Recent Retina MacBook Pro and MacBook Air Models




OS X 10.9.3, released last week, boosted the maximum VRAM used by the Intel HD 5000/5100/5200 graphics chips used in the most recent 2013/2014 MacBook Airs and Retina MacBook Pros.

First noticed by French site Mac4Ever [Google Translation], updating to 10.9.3 increases available VRAM from 1024MB to 1536MB, boosting the size of the shared memory, possibly to further improve 4K performance on certain machines.

The change can be seen in the Graphics/Displays section of the System Report accessible via About This Mac. Apple has not yet updated its support page to reflect the new VRAM limits, continuing to list 1GB of system memory as the maximum. The update was also not mentioned in the 10.9.3 release notes.

The 10.9.3 update, available via the software update tool in the Mac App Store, also included enhanced support for 4K displays and restored the ability to sync contacts and calendars between Macs and iOS devices over USB.

Update 12:45 PM PT: As noted by forum member SmileyDude, some machines with HD 4000 graphics have seen a VRAM boost as well, namely the 2012 Mac Mini, which now has a maximum VRAM of 1024MB, up from 768MB.

(Thanks, Peter!)

Article Link: OS X 10.9.3 Boosts Maximum VRAM of Recent Retina MacBook Pro and MacBook Air Models
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Old May 20, 2014, 01:54 PM   #2
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Well something good from this update.
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Old May 20, 2014, 01:55 PM   #3
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Will this anyhow improve performance in games? How?
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Old May 20, 2014, 01:55 PM   #4
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So, how would this effect gaming performance?
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Old May 20, 2014, 01:56 PM   #5
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I wonder how many Intel HD5xxx users will notice any difference.
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Old May 20, 2014, 01:57 PM   #6
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I think the Iris Pro will be mandatory on all MacBook Pro lineup, not only on the 15" one. Hope Broadwell will give us that to the 13" MacBook Pro customers in late 2014, with Iris Pro 2.
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Old May 20, 2014, 01:58 PM   #7
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If the intent of more VRAM is to boost the 4K ability of some machines, then there was no point in the MBA. I'm going to guess it is just using additional system RAM unnecessarily now. It isn't like the HD5000 is a gaming GPU, and 1GB seemed to do just fine for anything else I threw at it. Just my .02 worth....

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Originally Posted by MacsRgr8 View Post
I wonder how many Intel HD5xxx users will notice any difference.
My guess about 1% at best....
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Old May 20, 2014, 02:01 PM   #8
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More VRAM does not actually improve graphics, it's useful for higher resolutions and allows for textures to load faster.

I might be wrong
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Old May 20, 2014, 02:03 PM   #9
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I'm going to throw out a guess with absolutely no testing, but given that more VRAM is useful for higher resolutions, I would expect gaming performance to not necessarily be better across the board, but result in less diminished performance as the resolution increases.
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Old May 20, 2014, 02:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulrbeers View Post
If the intent of more VRAM is to boost the 4K ability of some machines, then there was no point in the MBA. I'm going to guess it is just using additional system RAM unnecessarily now. It isn't like the HD5000 is a gaming GPU, and 1GB seemed to do just fine for anything else I threw at it.
The increase in VRAM is only if the RAM is increased. With the 2011 models it was 384MB on 4GB, and 512MB+ with 8GB or more. Similarly you won't hit the 1GB VRAM unless you have 8 or 16GB.
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Old May 20, 2014, 02:28 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by paulrbeers View Post
I'm going to guess it is just using additional system RAM unnecessarily now.
The VRAM capacity is allocated dynamically so the 1.5GB mentioned is the new maximum the graphics card can use. Therefore it wouldn't use up your RAM unnecessarily.
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Old May 20, 2014, 02:35 PM   #12
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The increase in VRAM is only if the RAM is increased. With the 2011 models it was 384MB on 4GB, and 512MB+ with 8GB or more. Similarly you won't hit the 1GB VRAM unless you have 8 or 16GB.
VRAM for IGPs is also dynamically allocated in Mavericks, so it'll only take as much as it needs from system memory. This gives Apple more flexibility in setting the theoretical maximum. In previous versions of OS X, VRAM allocation was fixed and the IGP permanently stealing 1.5GB of RAM would have been bothersome even with 8GB of RAM.
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Old May 20, 2014, 02:40 PM   #13
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I have a 2012 Mac mini with HD Graphics 4000 and I've went from 768MB to 1GB with the update, so it's not necessarily because of 4k support.
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Old May 20, 2014, 02:43 PM   #14
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VRAM for IGPs is also dynamically allocated in Mavericks, so it'll only take as much as it needs from system memory. This gives Apple more flexibility in setting the theoretical maximum. In previous versions of OS X, VRAM allocation was fixed and the IGP permanently stealing 1.5GB of RAM would have been bothersome even with 8GB of RAM.
Good point, but do you happen to know how IGP releases memory? For instance, if a Mac is connected to 4K monitor and it is currently using 1.5GB RAM, does it release the memory immediately if OS X is running out of RAM for application processes?

At any rate, IGP puts additional pressure on need for Apple to (1) increase the base memory on all Macs (MBA) to 8GB and (2) offer 32GB RAM option for MBPs.
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Old May 20, 2014, 02:47 PM   #15
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Old May 20, 2014, 02:51 PM   #16
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which now has a maximum vram of 1024gb, up from 768mb.
holy sheiitttt
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Old May 20, 2014, 02:57 PM   #17
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So, how would this effect gaming performance?
Essentially, nothing. Your games will look pretty much the same. More memory helps to store information on the video RAM, so you can have more resolution but not necessarily more speed.
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Old May 20, 2014, 02:59 PM   #18
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Image

Update 12:45 PM PT: As noted by forum member SmileyDude, some machines with HD 4000 graphics have seen a VRAM boost as well, namely the 2012 Mac Mini, which now has a maximum VRAM of 1024GB, up from 768MB.

(Thanks, Peter!)

Article Link: OS X 10.9.3 Boosts Maximum VRAM of Recent Retina MacBook Pro and MacBook Air Models
Now this is magical.

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Well, .macbookpro. beat me to it
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Old May 20, 2014, 03:09 PM   #19
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Good point, but do you happen to know how IGP releases memory? For instance, if a Mac is connected to 4K monitor and it is currently using 1.5GB RAM, does it release the memory immediately if OS X is running out of RAM for application processes?
I don't know the details, but I imagine applications can't force the IGP to release memory since if the IGP is actually using it that could cause graphical corruption. The IGP should be releasing RAM back to the system when it's no longer needed.

Mavericks also added support for compressed memory though so if system RAM is running low, Mavericks will compress the least frequently used data in RAM (while still keeping it resident in RAM) which can be around 50% efficient. So a Mavericks Mac with 4 GB of RAM can have 6GB of effective memory and 8 GB of RAM has about 12 GB of effective memory. Once Mavericks has compressed as much memory as possible it'll start swapping to disk as usual.
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Old May 20, 2014, 03:15 PM   #20
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holy sheiitttt
That's what I thought!!
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Old May 20, 2014, 03:51 PM   #21
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Brace yourself for a new Apple Display (fingers crossed)
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Old May 20, 2014, 03:58 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by SmileyDude View Post
I have a 2012 Mac mini with HD Graphics 4000 and I've went from 768MB to 1GB with the update, so it's not necessarily because of 4k support.
Exactly what I'm seeing. Nice find!
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Old May 20, 2014, 04:15 PM   #23
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Yes i've noticed it yesterday! Very nice indeed.
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Old May 20, 2014, 04:24 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by SmileyDude View Post
I have a 2012 Mac mini with HD Graphics 4000 and I've went from 768MB to 1GB with the update, so it's not necessarily because of 4k support.
The VRAM on the 2012 mini already went up to 1024MB when Mavericks (10.9) came out. It certainly did with mine and many others on the forum, although that might have been because I run 16GB RAM. Although a member in this post reports it going up with Mavericks 10.9 on just 4GB RAM.

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1658108

In relation to mini owners, you might all just be noticing only now what already happened with Mavericks 10.9 months ago. That is, you had 1024MB all along.

Last edited by sumo.do; May 20, 2014 at 04:36 PM.
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Old May 20, 2014, 04:40 PM   #25
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Essentially, nothing. Your games will look pretty much the same. More memory helps to store information on the video RAM, so you can have more resolution but not necessarily more speed.
Not quite.

To store a single frame buffer at 1920x1200x32 resolution requires slightly less than 9Mbyte. Triple buffered graphics use the better part of 32Mbyte.

Upping that to 4K requires less than 128Mbyte. I think I do have a 128Mbyte USB stick somewhere with some DOS software demo on it. From 15 years ago.

Or in other words: If you'd use the full 1.5Gbyte as frame buffer you'd end up with a 25820x14524 resolution. No 4K, no 8K, but 25K.

The rest of your VRAM is actually used to do offscreen rendering of new windows, and in case of games, storing textures. More textures in VRAM means less time spent swapping textures around when you move through the game and thus some performance benefits.

Then again, modern CPU's are so fast the penalty of decompressing and swapping textures is minimal and you won't notice much difference unless you're running a specialist benchmark designed to show the effect.
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