Apple’s bean counters surely form one of the most powerful forces within the organization, despite much of the company's high-profile success being tied to design. A case in point is provided by one of Apple’s leading new consumer products, the 2023 14-inch MacBook Pro, which has had its design significantly steered by pricing fluctuations in the materials and components markets.
iFixIt recently tore down one of the laptops, and was surprised at the change in SoC size, cooler size, and NAND performance. Chief Analyst at SemiAnalysis, Dylan Patel, was conscripted to shine a light on these changes and provide an explanation.
Why Is the Heatsink Smaller?
Opening up the new 2023 14-inch MacBook Pro M2 for the first time, the iFixIt team had expected the cooling solution to be beefed-up and bolstered compared to the previous M1 Pro version. After all, the M2 Pro inside this laptop was trumpeted as packing 40 billion transistors (opens in new tab) — nearly 20 percent more than M1 Pro, and double the amount in M2. It was also claimed to provide 200GB/s of unified memory bandwidth — twice that of M2. More usefully, compared to the direct previous-gen predecessor, the M2 Pro was claimed by Apple to have a CPU that's about 20% faster and a GPU up to 30% faster.
So, the heatsink / cooling assembly being immediately noticeably smaller was quite a surprise for the tech disassembly experts. Then, when iFixIt deshielded the M2 Pro, they immediately saw the new SoC was much smaller, with the main reason being the new onboard RAM configuration.
In the picture above, you can see the new SoC to the right. Patel explained that Apple instigated this change when the ABF substrates were in very short supply, so optimizing to this design constraint was highly pragmatic. The way Apple chose to do this is by changing from the dual-8GB LPDDR5 RAM configuration to quad-4GB LPDDR5 RAM chips.
NAND Supply Pinches Performance
We reported on the unfortunate impact of Apple’s NAND configuration choices for the entry-level 2023 14-inch MacBook Pro (M2 Pro, 512GB) last week. The reason for the tangible speed downgrade, in brief, is that the 512GB is split over two 256GB modules, rather than four 128GB modules, cutting the bandwidth to the controller. Patel asserts that 128GB modules are increasingly in short supply as NAND makers shift production to higher capacities, so using the larger capacity modules is much more economical. It's a shame that Apple didn’t just give entry-level users more storage, but the company has always been conservative with storage, offering high-priced upgrades.
It’s a choice set of words. And I always have to wonder what the motivation is behind them. Personal? Professional?
Could’ve subbed ‘conservative’ with ‘stingy’ or ‘greedy’. The author could’ve swung the other way with ‘brave’. Who remembers when Apple declared themselves ‘brave’ for removing the 3.5mm headphone jack (which had absolutely nothing to do with wanting to sell Airpods lol)?
Anyway, I’d rate it as a fairly neutral take that’s just offering a little context. More or less reporting facts without apparently pushing an agenda.
It's likely a move to pronounce "light" with sacrifice on longevity of the machine. Thermally m2's are extremely poor design, and I believe they want it that way, as that chip will burn out right after the warranty expires, and a new one will be out.
I just read multiple articles talking about how they're cutting back on manufacturing because they are making too many chips. (Compared to demand) If there was such a shortage on 128 gig modules currently why would the price be at an all-time low. I don't understand why it wouldn't go up or stay the same if there was such a demand.
The most charitable case I can think of is they made a product for market conditions that no longer exist. (Or I got my math or data wrong)
I remember. I also remember them trying to spin their anti-repair stance to be about safety and security ("fire risks," "cut fingers"), the forced iPhone/iOS slowdown, Tim Cook prattling on about social justice and things unrelated to computing for hours, and generally, them treating consumers and developers like know-nothing cows from which to extract the sweet flowing dulce.
I remember a lot.