New Memory Patent Could Give Future Apple M1 Chip More Power
Your next MacBook Pro, equipped with a future version of the Apple-developed M1 processor, could be even faster and have a longer lifespan if Apple’s new hybrid memory patent is used, high-density, low-bandwidth storage with low-density storage combined. High bandwidth storage is becoming a reality. Rather than sharing memory between the CPU and GPU on Apple’s current system on a chip (SoC), which has its own limitations, Apple suggests using a hybrid in its patent filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office would be a system more efficient and would provide additional performance.
“Providing a storage system with two types of DRAMs (for example, one with high density and one with low latency and high bandwidth) can enable extremely energy efficient operation, making the storage system suitable for portable devices and other devices where Energy efficiency and performance per unit of energy consumed are key features, ”said the company in its submission.
This would be different from the Unified Memory Architecture (UMA) that Apple currently uses on its ARM-based processors, as the CPU and GPU would also have to share memory and bandwidth. This could have a significant impact on performance, according to Tom’s Hardware.
Conversely, using a hybrid approach, as suggested by Apple, would reduce the need to use large amounts of expensive, high-bandwidth storage. Apple’s patent combines DDR memory with HBM memory. Apple’s design was likely envisaged for portable devices such as the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, as the company detailed that the DRAMs should be soldered to the motherboard.
“With two types of DRAM making up the storage system, one that can be optimized for bandwidth and the other for capacity, in some embodiments the goals of both bandwidth increase and capacity increase can be achieved,” said Apple. “In addition, energy efficiency in the high bandwidth area of the storage can be managed. The portion of the memory that is optimized for capacity can have a lower bandwidth target and a relaxed (longer) latency target, as those targets can be served by the portion that is optimized for bandwidth. Similarly, the portion of memory that is optimized for bandwidth may have lower area efficiency goals, but improvements in latency and power efficiency can be made. “
The company added that high-bandwidth, low-latency, energy-efficient, and high-memory systems could be achieved more cost-effectively through this hybrid storage architecture. “In particular, implementing the high-density part and the high-bandwidth, low-latency part in separate chips that together form the main storage system can allow any storage to implement energy efficiency improvements that can provide a highly energy-efficient storage solution that also offers high performance and high bandwidth, ”said the company.
Apple isn’t the only company working on a hybrid storage architecture. Intel’s Xeon processor uses both DDR4 memory and Optane memory to support a hybrid approach, and the next generation Xeon chipsets are designed to support HBM. It’s unclear if or when Apple’s hybrid memory architecture will be introduced on a future version of the M1 chip – tech companies like Apple often file patents that don’t make it into an end product.
It has also been rumored that Apple is working on a future version of the M1 processor with more cores and improved graphics capabilities. Such a chip could find its way into a new Mac Pro.