Will we reach a RAM limit?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by dvader, Mar 10, 2007.

  1. dvader macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2007
    The MBP Ram limit is 3GB. I think the Santa Rosa MBP will offer 4GB of memory. Honestly, I know 1GB is a lot, but do you guys think you'll need it? Of course, more the better, but what about the days when 256MB of RAM was standard? Will we ever reach a limit? What if they came out with 200GB of RAM, won't you think that's overkill and that we really won't need that much?

    I know that chips are becoming more advanced and getting faster and faster, but will RAM reach a limit where we'll end up saying something like, "Okay, we just created a 200GB memory and I think that's enough. If we make anything larger, people won't have a need for it, but 200GB seems to do it".

    Sorta follows the law of diminishing returns...there's a limit where too much won't be good either. You just need enough...

    Also, I know that if your computer starts to slow down after opening multiple applications, but is there a more objective way to check if you are in need of more RAM instead of using your "feeling" that the computer is going slow?

    Is there an activity monitoring screen say add more RAM and all this activity will lessen?
  2. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Apr 3, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia
    I don't think we'll reach a limit but we definitely reach milestones every now and then. I think that the average family computer probably doesn't need more than 1GB of RAM to work smoothly. In a few years time, the requirements of hardware, operating system and apps will mean 1GB isn't enough and the limit will be higher. I don't believe this increased demand in memory capacity will stop until the need for RAM stops altogether.
  3. Fearless Leader macrumors 68020

    Mar 21, 2006
    Honestly 1gb of RAM isn't a lot. It's standard for most machines. As our computers do more multimedia, games, management, they will need more power.

    For some what the computer needed to be was years ago, for some its now, for some its 20 30 years from now when a computer has AI and is everybody's personal secretary.

    I remember the days of a 1gb of HD was friggin huge now I have several cheap thumb drives. We will eventually hit a limit but we are nowhere near it.
  4. MacDonaldsd macrumors 65816


    Sep 8, 2005
    London , UK
    By the time we "need" 4GB I doubt the current generation of macs will be up to the job.
  5. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    Depends on the usage profile you have. For home use sure, a few Gb may be fine, for server use more is better. If you want to keep a whole days worth of data in memory on your database server (to keep it super fast when you are doing calculations over a few million entries) you need lots of RAM. 10s o GB. And we have small datasets. There are definitely usage scenarios where 100s of Gb would be nice.
  6. EvryDayImShufln macrumors 65816


    Sep 18, 2006
    If games keep becoming more realistic, we will definitely need more RAM. Already current games use quite a bit I think, I can't imagine a limit where gaming is concerned.
  7. dougnewman macrumors 6502

    Aug 9, 2006
    Long Island, NY, USA
    I guess there might be such a thing as "enough", but not any time soon. The "standard" amount of RAM seems to double every couple of years. Right now I guess it is 1 GB. I would be surprised if it isn't 2 GB within two years.

    Software keeps getting more complicated, files bigger, etc. Photoshop CS2 won't run well with less than 1 GB of RAM. A few versions of Photoshop ago, you couldn't even get 1 GB of RAM.

    10 years ago, the average computer came with about 8 MB of RAM. The maximum you could have was, I think, 32 MB.

    Could anyone imagine at the time that in a decade, an average home computer would come with 1 GB of RAM, and that people with fancy workstations would be using 8 GB, 12 GB, even 16 GB?

    Of course, the law of diminishing returns applies to RAM too. Just about anyone will see a huge difference jumping from 512 MB to 1 GB. A lot of people might not see much of a difference from 1 GB to 2 GB. But in a few years they probably will, since the next generation of everything will use more RAM.
  8. roland.g macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    Remember that there are different factors driving one's need for RAM.

    What the OS uses. Back in 9, or 10/10.1 it was suitable to have 256. When 10.2 and then 10.3 came out, Macs were still shipping with 256, but 512 should have been the standard. Just so you have enough RAM that with the OS running a few other things can run too.

    The above would include concurrent OS. If you run XP within Parallels, then of course more RAM will do.

    The # of Apps you run. Yes, obviously, the more RAM you have, the more concurrent Apps you can run.

    And what you do with Apps. When I got a G4 450 in Feb. 2000, I had 768 RAM in it, which was above average then. Came with OS 9 and 256 RAM. I ran photoshop on it and quarkxpress and illustrator all at the same time and worked with 20-50MB files with multiple undo's, so I needed 200-300MB RAM available to photoshop.

    As OSes and Applications evolve, the are more efficient but also need more CPU power, and more RAM. One day it won't be RAM anymore, some kind of breakthrough will come along to replace it, and the way that computers operate.
  9. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

    Jan 1, 2007
    I read somewhere that you need 4 Gb of ram to prevent a data bottleneck.

  10. dvader thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2007
    I heard about a possible breakthrough. I'm not trying to start a "Who's waiting for the RAM breakthrough" thread, but are there any theories about what this could be?
  11. someguy macrumors 68020


    Dec 4, 2005
    Still here.
    I think all you need is free RAM.
  12. Grakkle macrumors 6502a


    Oct 6, 2006
    Exactly. There may be a physical limit to the amount of RAM that can be used - but the limit is meaningless because by the time it's reached, almost certainly today's RAM will have been replaced by some sort of new memory system.

    Computer memory technology thirty years from now is probably unimaginable to us today - do you think anyone thirty years ago envisioned today's computer technology, except in the dimmest way? Look at old Star Trek episodes - today's personal computers can do more than they imagined the Enterprise's could 400 years from now.
  13. kinchee87 macrumors regular


    Jan 9, 2007
    New Zealand
    When it becomes possible to load the whole computer off RAM, then that's when we have reached the RAM limit. (Of course you'll still need a HDD to remember the states).
  14. iJawn108 macrumors 65816


    Apr 15, 2006
    No, not till we change our computing all together.

    I'll tell you this much... hard storage will be in high high high demand in the next 10 years.
  15. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Apr 3, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia

    Or Inactive RAM. ;)
  16. Eraserhead macrumors G4


    Nov 3, 2005
    in the 80's bill gates is quoted as saying that noone will ever need more than 640k RAM so I don't think there's a limit...
  17. zblaxberg Guest


    Jan 22, 2007
    don't forget who said it though...;)
  18. Eraserhead macrumors G4


    Nov 3, 2005
    But also apparently it's a myth, but it could be a myth like "Mac's get hacked every day, and Windows is lucky if it gets hacked monthly" :rolleyes:
  19. Erasmus macrumors 68030


    Jun 22, 2006
    Hiding from Omnius in Australia
    I would say no.

    Of course, it depends on what you define as RAM. It seems inevitable that Hard Disks and RAM will combine in the (kind of near, maybe 10-20 years?) future into very high speed non-volatile memory, like a latticework of atomic cages that I saw in concept a few years ago. Or maybe the binary system of today will be replaced by a much more efficient base-4 system like DNA, or even higher. Of course, it has to have really fast data transfer speeds.

    Of course, even if a breakthrough like this happens, there is always likely to be either another form of media that can store far more information in the same space just with a slower read/write speed, or a form of media that only stores a "small" amount of data but has much higher read/write speeds. In this case, there will always be a use for RAM, and there will never be a limit for it.

    I mean, eventually, someone is going to want to create a completely realistic virtual world, which would use a huge amount of RAM. Then there are Scientists and Engineers who would love to be able to model processes in ever increasing detail, and more complex, and larger processes, interactions, etc. The physical limits of using computers to design more and more complex things, like quantum computers, particle accelerators, nuclear reactors, etc. is their speed, and how much data they can hold.

    So yeah, in conclusion, sparing you further ranting (I could, you know, go on and on about it) RAM will never hit a point where people couldn't use more.

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