New M2 Pro/Max MacBook Pro supply constraints influenced this key design decision

14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro (2023)
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's brand new M2 Pro and M2 Max MacBook Pros are its best Macs in many ways, but something strange is happening inside.

The teardown masters at iFixit have already been able to rip a 14-inch M2 Pro MacBook Pro to pieces to see what makes it tick, and, according to them, Apple has tweaked the way it arranges things.

Specifically, Apple seems to have changed how the M2 Pro handles RAM compared to the outgoing M1 Pro that people have used for a year or so.

All change

According to the iFixit teardown and post-mortem, Apple has altered how it lays out the RAM when making the jump to the M2 chip. "The M1 Pro has an 8GB Samsung LPDDR5 RAM module on either side of the core while the M2 Pro has two SK Hynix 4GB LPDDR5 RAM modules on either side of the core—a total of four," iFixit notes. That means the M2 Pro's footprint is smaller despite being the better chip.

Why? Dylan Patel, Chief Analyst at SemiAnalysis, thinks he has the answer.

"ABF substrates were in very short supply when Apple made the design choice," Patel told iFixit. "By using four smaller modules rather than two larger ones, they can decrease routing complexity within the substrate from the memory to the SoC, leading to fewer layers on the substrate." 

Patel adds that Apple can stretch its somewhat limited substrate supply and make it go further than might otherwise be the case.

Like many other companies, Apple has been struggling with supply constraints for a couple of years now. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 situation didn't help, with supply chains worldwide struggling to recover following the 2020 outbreak.

With Apple now working to diversify its manufacturing as much as possible, things may improve. It's already working to ensure that it doesn't have a repeat of Chinese manufacturing issues that say iPhone 14 Pro models become almost impossible to buy in late 2022.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.