Wednesday, March 23, 2016 by Tim Webb
When the iPad Air 3/iPad Pro mini was announced on Monday my only grievance was with the price. I was strongly considering an upgrade from my iPad Air 1, especially if it had the beefy RAM and processor found in the iPad Pro 12.9" model. Apple has decided to save me a lot of money though, because they gimped this shit.
You wouldn't know it from looking at Apple's own "specs" page comparing the iPad Proses, but the littler of the two is only equipped with 2GB of RAM according to ArsTechnica.
This is bad news for musicians when multiple apps open in AB/IAA/AUX will quickly gobble up memory. I remember being astounded the first time I ran 3 apps simultaneously on an iPad 2, but now we're regularly loading up a hell of a lot more apps and we need more memory to support that. Otherwise iOS will start to panic when it detects low memory, where it will helpfully terminate background apps.
Another factor for musicians is raw clock speed. When you're setting an audio rate of 48kHz, with a low input latency you need a fast CPU. For Apple reasons the iPad Air 3 has been underclocked by a small amount according to TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino; who benchmarked the new iPad Pro at 2.16GHz, versus 2.24GHz in full-sized iPad Pro. That's a minuscule amount, but it's extra annoying to think of the new tablet as being any slower.
ArsTechnica points out that memory deficiency could bite a lot of people in the ass a couple of years from now:
Apple has occasionally stopped supporting certain devices because of RAM limitations rather than raw performance limitations—the original iPad had 256MB of RAM and didn't get either iOS 6 or iOS 7, while the 512MB iPhone 4 with the same A4 chip got both updates. It's going to be fine for now (many actively supported iPads still have 1GB or even 512MB of RAM), but it could one day be a problem nevertheless.