The arrival of Apple’s M1 chip family brought a new concept: unified memory. Unlike traditional setups with separate pools of RAM and VRAM, unified memory merges them into one shared pool accessible by the CPU and GPU.
In this article, we have discussed what unified memory is and how much you need for different purposes.
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What is Unified memory?
Unified memory is like a big storage space that combines RAM and a hard drive. Its goal is to reduce the duplication of data stored between different memory operations by the CPU and GPU.
In the past, the CPU and GPU each had separate memory spaces. They can now share and use the same memory space with unified memory. This means there are fewer repetitive memory operations since the CPU and GPU can access data in the same place.
With unified memory, all components on a Mac can directly access the memory pool. This makes it quicker to transfer data between the memory and the processor. Additionally, the RAM is physically closer to the processor, allowing the processor to access data faster when needed.
How much unified memory do you need?
On Macs, you’ll find unified memory options like 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB.
- Average usage: If you’re just an average user doing everyday tasks like browsing with Safari, handling emails, using Photos, and working with apps in Apple’s iWork suite, an Apple Silicon Mac with 8GB should likely do the job. However, it’s worth noting that spending a bit more, say an extra $200, for 16GB might be a reasonable investment.
- Editing: For professionals dealing with tasks like photo editing, audio work, or video production, a Mac with 16GB or 32GB of unified memory will suit your needs better. And remember, the larger the files you’re working with, the more memory and storage might be beneficial.
- Heavy-Duty: For those with the most demanding tasks, like professional video editors working with high-resolution 8K videos or data scientists, a Mac powered by M1 Pro/M2 Pro with 64GB or 128GB could be on the table—unless you genuinely have such intense needs.
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