Is there a Moore's law on RAM?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Dafke, Oct 10, 2013.

  1. Dafke macrumors 6502

    Dafke

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    #1
    Hi there,

    I'm planning to buy the new rMBP (15 inch) when it comes out (I hope soon!). I'm trying to figure out how much RAM I will be needing. Currently I have 3 GB in my 2007 Core 2 Duo MBP and sometimes I run out. I use the laptop for light Photoshop work, Bridge, webbrowsing, things like that.
    I guess in the current situation 4 GB of RAM would do, especially with a quick SSD. To make the laptop a bit futureproof I would choose the configuration with 8 GB, I think that would be sufficient for at least 3 years.

    However, since I hope to use the new rMBP for 6 or 7 years, like I did with the current one, I'm wondering if 8 GB will be enough at that time. I know Mavericks is supposed to be more RAM efficient but how RAM hungry will the OSX and the applications be after 5, 6 or 7 years? 10 years ago I thought 512 MB of RAM was pretty much, nowadays that's nothing!

    The upgrade to 16 GB will probably cost me about 200 euro's (the current pricelevel) which is not really a problem but I can use it for other nice things as well of course.

    I'd like to hear your ideas!
     
  2. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040

    ezekielrage_99

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2005
    #2
    I was contemplating the same thing regarding RAM and SSD, personally from experience and upgradability then 16GB RAM is a must while the HDD you can always get an external drive cheaply.

    I believe the with way software is going 16GB RAM for longevity and resale value with a rMBP is a must. I was considering the 13" rMBP but am put off because there's not 16GB BTO.
     
  3. Umbongo, Oct 10, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2013

    Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #3
    No Moore's law.

    Go with 16GB. It's a huge amount of RAM still and will be for a few years, but stock RAM for systems will move to 8GB soon enough as DRAM chip capacity increases and we move to DDR4. When this happens software makers will get even laxer with memory usage optimisations and 16GB will be useful. More so you may start doing something where 16GB is a big advantage, who knows exactly what is around the corner for you or software. Resale value will also be higher as the vast majority will have gone with 8GB

    Better not to regret only going with 8GB 3 years down the line yeah?
     
  4. Dafke thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dafke

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    #4
    Thanx peoples, I was leaning to 16 GB a bit allready but now I am sure. Will probably go for the 512 SSD even though I only have like 100 GB of data right now. Never know, might get into movie editing or something like that.

    Really hoping for them to be released soon, been waiting a few months now!
     
  5. devilofspades macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2011
    #5
    16gb for sure. the main reason simply being you can't upgrade down the road. you may not need all of that now, but as others have said for longevity sake it makes sense. my hope is (fingers crossed) with the new intel haswell inside they will offer a 32gb option but that may just be a fantasy of mine. bottom line, the more ram you have the faster your system will run.
     
  6. Giuly, Oct 10, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2013

    Giuly macrumors 68040

    Giuly

    #6
    In the near future it's, in fact, irrelevant.

    DDR4 allows to stack chips, so the sky (at least if the altitude of your sky is equal to eight silicon wafers) is the limit and not how many DRAM cells can be fitted onto a square inch of a silicon wafer.

    Everything up to DDR3 does however - somewhat - abide Moore's law if you replace transistor count with capacity per $.
     
  7. spatlese44 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2007
    Location:
    Milwaukee
    #7
    I was about to post that same link. Check out the graph. For several years I compiled my own data on this as I was curious. I remember back in the 90s being put on hold while trying to order 16MB of ram. It was $800. I finally put the credit card and phone down and said forget it. I think it was a year later that I bought a new computer. A much better investement.

    As to the OP, I hear what everyone is saying. Like you, I tend to wait 6 years or so to upgrade. I'm starting to rethink that. I don't think 8GB will be outdated, for your needs, in 4 years from now.
     
  8. themwhite3 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2013
    Location:
    Valparaiso, In
    #8
    I have the current base model 15" rmbp and the only thing i wish was different about my computer is the amount of RAM. 8GB gets the job done but i know 16GB would have given my laptop whole new levels of performance.
     
  9. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040

    ezekielrage_99

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2005
    #9
    I'd agree though for resale for the future value of the laptop then you'd be wise to go for 16GB RAM over 8GB RAM.
     
  10. xArtx macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    #10
    Moore's law concerns how many transistors are on a chip,
    they can put more or less chips on a memory PCB,
    or is it that the PCB is full?
     
  11. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #11
    While the number of transistors on a chip doubles, the price of the chips tend to stay the same, so memory becomes more affordable. The number of packages really only matters if you are space constrained.

    So I paid $160 for 64 kilobytes of RAM in 1980. The same $160 (after accounting for inflation) will buy 48GB at Crucial.com today.

    Thats a 750,000 fold decrease in cost in in 33 years, which I calculate to be a halving in cost every 1.7 years, pretty close to Moore's Law.

    Macs come with ever increasing amounts of RAM at the same price.
     
  12. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    #12
    8GB will definitely be outdated in 6 years, not because of Moore's law, but because applications' hunger for RAM have been growing exponentially since then. Ten years ago, same pattern of usage as now, the machine was running fine with 256MB. Now, I would be lucky to get the same amount of performance on 4GB.

    Look at application's needs, not pure RAM size.
     
  13. xArtx macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    #13
    Don't know about Macs but for iDevices everything else appears to
    be driven by display resolution.
    Up the display resolution, and you need a better CPU, RAM, & everything else as well.

     
  14. marioman38 macrumors 6502a

    marioman38

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2006
    Location:
    Elk Grove, CA
    #14
    What apps are ya'll using that use so much RAM? I was very afraid of buyers remorse when I bought my 2011 MBA with ONLY 4GB RAM :eek:

    The little thing has never had an issue. I use Airplay, Safari, iTunes, Photoshop, Lightroom, the occasional X-Plane flight, Handbrake encodes, and PS3 Media Server remux/transcodes.

    Don't developers try to create efficient apps that use less RAM?
     
  15. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #15
    No. They try to create apps quickly to get them out on the market. And space is used to get maximum visual impact. When I open Pages, a word processor, it uses 80MB. In the early 1980's I used WordStar, the leading word processor in its day, in 64KB. That's over 1,000 times the memory usage to write a letter (for instance).
     
  16. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    #16
    In 1985 I paid $2000 for a 4 MB board for my PDP-11. I didn't mind, because it let me do some things in RAM rather than on disk. Our time-critical process went from 20 minutes down to about 2. This was on-site event computing while the event was in progress, so you can imagine how huge that difference was -- "Come back in 20 minutes," versus "Hang on, I'll have it for you in couple of minutes."
     
  17. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #17
    What a bargain. I (actually my company) paid $8000 for a 32k memory module in 1974 for a PDP-11. The whole computer cost more than a year's pay.
     
  18. barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
    Lancashire
    #18
    8Gb can cut down swap activity to the point where booting from a USB 2.0 drive can run quite a few applications at once just as well as off an internal drive. Only this afternoon, I cloned my SSD currently running Mac OS X 10.6.8 onto a 7,200rpm drive IDE using a universal drive adapter, installed Mac OS X 10.8.5 over the top of it, updated a few drivers (for my Mbox2) and then started running some of my heavier sessions to test how it performs. No problems whatsoever apart from the obvious time difference launching applications etc...

    (I was still using the internal drives for my software synth library and recording drive).

    I wouldn't be surprised if the reason it wasn't running slowly is entirely down to the fact everything fit into the 8Gb of RAM.

    If you got a modern system running off an SSD and had 8Gb+, you'd have a snappy system that wouldn't slow down over time like a HDD-based one and it would likely hold it's own for a good few years to come.
     
  19. mward333 macrumors 6502a

    mward333

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2004
    #19
    PDP-11 was surely a good machine! I am happy that I learned VAX assembly during my first real semester of programming in college.
     
  20. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    #20
    Was it core memory? I can't remember what an 11 used in the early-mid 70s. When I got into DEC equipment (1981) there were a few PDP-8s around still using core. I talked to a field service guy out in Honolulu, who said that when he replaced bad core boards for the military, he had to stand around while authorized people smashed the cores (for anybody who doesn't know, core memory was non-volatile).

    I loved DEC equipment. It never let me down. I had a microVAX 3100 that I packed up, transported, used, packed up, transported home more than 300 times and that machine never saw a field service person.

    I just finished packing up an Alphaserver DS10 (Compaq) that I'm not using anymore, but I haven't finished pulling what I need from it, so it's going in the container to Hawai'i and I'll get around to it sometime. What amuses me is that the same case I used to pack the DS10 (and the mV 3100 before it) and toss in the van and go to the races is the same case I'm using to FedEx my Mac Pro out to Hawai'i. It ought to be safe in it -- every other machine I've had has been.
     
  21. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #21
    The PDP-11 we ordered in the Fall of 1973 had core memory. We bought it from a third party at half the price DEC charged. So "overcharging" for memory isn't something new.
     
  22. akwarner macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2006
    #22
    The real problem is we need t stop buying machines that do not have future expandability built in just because Apple feels that they want us to. I love Apple products but I am really turned off by this move to non-upgradable RAM and storage. We've already given in on non-removable batteries and the removal of optical storage. We need to draw the line on machines that can't have their RAM upgraded (or repaired). It is just silly.

    In the quest for thinner and thinner purely for aesthetic reasons, Apple is taking away our flexibility for future upgrades and we have to have discussions like this one. I currently do not own an iMac that I really wanted (actually purchased and returned) specifically due to lack of simple upgrade-ability of RAM and even a ridiculously complex process to upgrade or update hard drive storage. They could design it to be easier but they chose not to. Think of the redesign of the Mac Mini which is now dead simple to upgrade RAM on, and while a bit more involved, also allows for a comparably simple hard drive upgrade.

    I purchased a 2012 MacBook Pro (non-retina) and did not consider the retina version because while I like the screen upgrade, I despise the inability to do other upgrades.

    If Apple keeps making things that are difficult or impossible to service, they will lose users who are trying to keep their investments longer. I currently have a Mini rather than the iMac I originally was looking at and I have a regular MacBook Pro rather than a retina MacBook Pro for the same reason.

    Hopefully Apple will eventually change their thinking. We'll see.

    A.
     
  23. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #23
    Computers are commodity items. I'd expect that 99% of them are never upgraded. How many people upgrade their cell phones, television sets, cars, microwave ovens…
     
  24. akwarner macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2006
    #24
    Tons of people upgrade their cars (wheels, stereos, performance engine parts, etc.). Maybe almost as many as upgrade their PCs (better monitor, more RAM, increased hard drive storage, etc.). Also many non-iPhone users do upgrades to their phones (improved head sets, larger capacity batteries, supplemental memory cards to increase storage, etc.). Televisions are not typically upgraded directly in the unit but we frequently add better sound, lots of new input devices like games, Blu-ray players, game consoles, Roku or AppleTV, etc. I will admit though I've not seen anyone "upgrade" a microwave. At least I am not aware of any.

    Apple has removed many of these things from the products that they are making but we keep buying them (me included since I have stuck with an iPhone as my primary cell phone and my MacBook Pro does not have an easily user changeable battery).

    A.
     
  25. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    #25
    Surely you don't use these applications at the same time, or don't open many tabs when browsing. Fire up two browsers, one for menial work, one for heavier work, tens of open tabs on multimedia pages, iCal, Mail, perhaps an office suite, and there you have your 8GB saturated and your machine soon swapping. I didn't even use 4GB for a week before I decided to upgrade to 16.

    Indeed. Developers are not taking any minute to optimize applications as they did yesteryear. I also suspect many of them rely more and more on memory-heavy processes such as Java.

    We're talking about radically different devices. Desktop computers (at least outside of the Mac world, since even the new Mac Pro can't be upgraded) are regularly upgraded with bigger hard drives, video and other various cards. In a laptop, one is pretty much limited to RAM and HDD.
     

Share This Page