With the latest generation iPad Pro, Apple crammed the sleek machine with all the firepower it could handle, including the lightning-fast M1 chip and up to 16 Gig of RAM. The biggest limiting factor, however, is iPadOS – which many tech pundits pointed out in their reviews – since the operating system simply lacks features or an ecosystem that can completely push those powerful innards to their limits. The best example? Procreate – one of the most powerful and well-known digital illustration apps for the iPad.
As pointed out by several users on the Procreate forum, the iPad Pro can only use 5GB of RAM when running the Procreate app, although it packed up to 16GB of RAM in the higher-end 1TB and 2TB storage models. Here’s what one user mentioned in no uncertain terms:
“There is a big problem with the M1 iPad Pro. After a stress test and other tests on the new M1 iPad Pro with 16 GB or RAM, it turned out that the app can ONLY use 5 GB or RAM! If we allocate more, the app crashes. It’s only 0.5 GB more than old iPads with 6 GB of RAM! I suppose it’s no better on the 8 GB iPad. “
Another user pointed out that after several tests, they found that Both the 8 GB and 16 GB RAM versions of the iPad Pro limit the RAM usage capacity to exactly 5.1 GB. While that number sounds acceptable for the 8GB RAM model, using less than a third of the available RAM capacity on the high-end model simply means you won’t be able to take advantage of the hardware you paid for .
We tested the RAM limit on iOS 14.5.x, 14.6 and 14.7beta, on both the iPad M1 8GB and 16GB, and in all cases the memory limit the app was able to allocate was exactly 5.1GB. We got these numbers by doing stress tests (allocating memory until the app crashes) and by calling os_proc_available_memory ().
From the Apple documentation:
os_proc_available_memory () – returns “The number of bytes the app is allowed to allocate before it reaches its memory limit”.
Needless to say, many users either got stuck with the “This image is beyond the capabilities of this iPad” error or had to switch to their older computer. However, Procreate seems to have recognized the problem and has has released a patch that is being rolled out on a regional basis at the time of writing.
The core problem is that if you have the base model of the new M1-based iPad Pro, the maximum number of layers you can work with is 115. And even if you can get the top-end models with 16GB of RAM, this is the highest. The number of tiers you can access is still 115, so you’re essentially paying for an expensive hardware upgrade that wasn’t made functional by the operating system itself.
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