M4 iPad Pros with 8GB of RAM may actually have 12GB — teardowns reveal possible Apple hijinks

iFixit teardown showing the M4 chip and RAM modules on the iPad Pro 13.
(Image credit: iFixit)

Apple's newest iPad Pro 13 may be cutting consumers short, with 12GB onboard RAM being artificially limited to 8GB. MacRumors forum user layerstack posted their detective work, seeking to independently verify the listed RAM capacities of Apple's newest iPad Pro lineup.

Apple's newest M4 iPad Pro 13 releases with two models, a 256GB/512GB storage model with a 9-core CPU and 8GB of RAM or a 1TB/2TB storage variant with the flagship 10-core CPU and 16GB of RAM. With teardown videos and blogs finally releasing, revealing the iPad's shiny new M4 silicon, internet sleuths are investigating every revealed inch of these machines. 

The condensed FBGA codes for Micron's RAM modules are clearly seen on some teardowns, revealing the exact chips Apple used for their iPads. The 16GB iPad, sure enough, contains 16GB of Micron LPDDR5 RAM. But the 8GB model has two 48Gbit modules onboard. 48 gigabits converts to 6 gigabytes, meaning the lower-grade iPad Pro model has 12GB of RAM available from its RAM module. But in use, the iPad Pro has only its advertised 8GB RAM accessible. 

Why Apple would artificially limit its RAM modules is unknown. Theories floated on comment sections across the web suggest a few possible solutions — some more charitable than others. Perhaps no 4GB chips exist with enough dies to supply the bandwidth Apple demands, the chips are binned for performance, or none of the major RAM manufacturers offer 4GB chips as standard for LPDDR5 memory and Apple couldn't afford to commission custom chips for a poorer-selling product. Maybe the part number is wrong after all, and Apple is using new custom RAM that coincidentally has the exact same part number as Micron's 6GB chip.

The most flaunted reason from web users is that Apple is artificially limiting the performance of these modules for product segmenting, keeping a traditional 8GB or 16GB RAM dichotomy between its iPads. This seems like a likely answer, which would mean that Apple has four unused gigs of RAM just sitting on its logic boards doing nothing. Apple's goal may be to avoid the unfamiliar "12GB RAM" spec which may alienate some consumers; Cupertino is likely looking to avoid any possible drop in sales after a bad year for iPad in 2023

Our thorough summary of Apple's new M4 iPad Pros and their teardowns can be found here. The newest iPad Pros are mostly remarkable due to the brand-new M4 chip, Apple's fresh silicon being introduced on an iPad for the first time. In its current form, its only major improvement over the M3 is its NPU for AI workloads, but a bit of liquid nitrogen can take it far beyond its rated performance.

Freelance News Writer
  • Metal Messiah.
    They are creating too much of a fuss out of this. Apple hijinx ?

    Currently there are no 4GB chips that run at LPDDR5X 7500, which is required for the M4 iPad's 120GB/s memory bandwidth. We only have 6GB, 8GB and above variants. It can't get less complicated than this fact.

    Also since the M4 is still using a 128bit memory bus, so in this case 2X6GB, it is much cheaper/easier to disable the extra RAM, instead of acquiring new 4GB modules.
    Reply
  • Sippincider
    Well better than claiming 12 in the specs and only having 8 on the device.

    Or charging hundreds for a BTO option to 12, when it's already there.
    Reply
  • Metal Messiah.
    That would be a blunder/disaster for Apple if they advertised 12GB on paper/specs, but physically it only sports 8GB. But obviously, no company can make claims like these though.
    Reply
  • thisisaname
    Could be they are using broken ram and the 8GB modules only have 6GB usable?
    Reply
  • peachpuff
    Maybe 4gb is used for video memory?
    Reply
  • Notton
    peachpuff said:
    Maybe 4gb is used for video memory?
    There is no way Apple would do that without plastering it all over their adverts.
    thisisaname said:
    Could be they are using broken ram and the 8GB modules only have 6GB usable?
    I think this is unlikely. I can't find stats on LPDDR5X yields, but I doubt they are that bad.
    "Bad" DRAM is usually binned at a slower speed, not fused off.
    Can they be fused off to begin with? They aren't logic chips made from blocks you can disable.
    Reply
  • hushnecampus
    Metal Messiah. said:
    They are creating too much of a fuss out of this. Apple hijinx ?

    Currently there are no 4GB chips that run at LPDDR5X 7500, which is required for the M4 iPad's 120GB/s memory bandwidth. We only have 6GB, 8GB and above variants. It can't get less complicated than this fact.

    Also since the M4 is still using a 128bit memory bus, so in this case 2X6GB, it is much cheaper/easier to disable the extra RAM, instead of acquiring new 4GB modules.
    That doesn’t justify disabling a third of the RAM.
    Reply
  • CmdrShepard
    hushnecampus said:
    That doesn’t justify disabling a third of the RAM.
    So, the fact that 4GB chips at required speed do not exist doesn't justify using 6GB chips and disabling 2GB per chip?

    And you know better than Apple hardware designers whether those additional 4GB total would make a sensible differences in performance?

    Right.
    Reply
  • JeffreyP55
    Admin said:
    MacRumors forum posters seem to have identified Apple's M4 iPad Pro RAM modules on 8GB RAM models as a pair of 6GB modules, creating a total of 12GB RAM onboard.

    M4 iPad Pros with 8GB of RAM may actually have 12GB — teardowns reveal possible Apple hijinks : Read more
    Proprietry everything is why I don't want anything to with Apple. I was forced to use an old desktop CX to do cad work. My wife has an iPad. Good for her. Don't miss Apple. So what platform is compatible M1-M4 series CPU?
    Reply
  • Thunder64
    CmdrShepard said:
    So, the fact that 4GB chips at required speed do not exist doesn't justify using 6GB chips and disabling 2GB per chip?

    And you know better than Apple hardware designers whether those additional 4GB total would make a sensible differences in performance?

    Right.
    Come on, that's clearly anti-consumer, right? Do you think it is OK selling Macbooks in 2024 with 8GB of non upgradable memory? Good for them though, as it seems people are buying their products.
    Reply