Does the iPad Air need more RAM?

Today in Apple: Did Apple goof by including only 1 GB of RAM in the iPad Air? Is the iPad Air really ready to run 64-bit applications?

I've been reading a lot of reviews of the iPad Air, as well as forum threads about it. And I'm seeing a fair number of comments stating that the iPad Air doesn't have enough RAM, particularly if you take into account the eventual move from 32-bit apps to 64-bit apps.

I've linked to a couple of threads in the Mac Rumors forum below to give you a taste of what's being said online, but you'll find this issue coming up in the threads of various reviews as well.

With all this talk about the Air only having 1GB, do *you* really see a noticeable affect from this? So many seem to talk about numerous tabs always open, etc. but is that really a typical situation you find yourself in often?

I typically have one, maybe two open at once. I will say this a recreational device for me, not for work or production of any kind. I never go in and close apps in the background and I have yet to experience any type of lag issues.

Either way, I'm beyond happy with this and it's a pretty big improvement over the Mini I had. Maybe it's not a huge leap from the 4th Gen but it seems great to me overall.

More at Mac Rumors Forum

It appears some people are not to pleased with the 1Gb of DDR3 RAM in the iPad Air. Personally I was hoping for 2Gb of RAM, but I have come to realise that 1Gb of RAM is more that suffice.

From a fresh start, iOS 7 eats only 300Mb (slightly more). As the OS "settles in" it eats more and more to increase system performance as well as placing opened applications in inactive ram after use. This can lead to the OS eating up around 600Mb. But what I am trying to say it that an app could eat up as much as 700Mb on iOS 7 before the OS force quits it. That is more than enough RAM for any app.

More at Mac Rumors Forum

I suspect that there's some confusion going on out there about how iOS 7 manages memory, along with confusion about what the transition to 64-bit apps actually means for RAM use.

AnandTech has an excellent review of the iPad Air that covers some of the memory management issues and discusses the impact of 64-bit applications.

The move to a 64-bit platform however does complicate things a bit. Moving to a larger memory address space increases the size of pointers, which in turn can increase the footprint of 64-bit applications compared to their 32-bit counterparts.

In general you’re looking at a 20 - 30% increase in memory footprint when dealing with an all 64-bit environment. At worst, the device’s total memory usage never exceeded 60% of what ships with the platform but these are admittedly fairly light use cases. With more apps open, including some doing work in the background, I do see relatively aggressive eviction of apps from memory.

Although things seem to have improved with iOS 7.0.3, the 64-bit builds of the OS still seem to run into stability issues more frequently than their 32-bit counterparts. I still see low memory errors associated with any crashes. It could just be that the move to 64-bit applications (and associated memory pressure) is putting more stress on iOS’ memory management routines, which in turn exposes some weaknesses.

More at AnandTech

My own experience with the iPad Air has been quite positive. So far I have not seen any RAM related problems while using it. I've run a ton of different games, various applications including Safari with a bunch of tabs open, and I'm not seeing RAM issues or crashes at all.

Have you had any RAM related problems with the iPad Air? If so please share in the comments below. I'd love to know what other iPad Air users are experiencing. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

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