Everybody loves more RAM, especially in their Android smartphones and tablets. Because seriously, can we have some more? I'll take whatever you can give me. And today, Samsung is continuing in its grand tradition of responding to that demand with a brand-new DRAM design that squeezes 12Gb (not to be confused with GB) onto each chip, for a maximum of 6GB (again, not to be confused with Gb) of total memory in the package. Samsung claims it can fit that 6GB in the space that is required for 3GB currently, so no extra room is needed.
The new chip is also 30% faster than Samsung's older 20nm-process 8Gb chips, and Samsung claims they'll be able to produce in significantly greater quantities thanks to manufacturing changes.
While the Note 5 and S6 edge+ are far from the first Samsung phones with reported issues killing background tasks with unusual aggressiveness, they are the first ones with four freaking gigabytes of RAM to do so. We've long assumed that Samsung's background task issues on certain handsets are related to a lack of RAM headroom due to TouchWiz, and yet, the Note 5 and S6 edge+ may exhibit the most aggravating task killing of any Samsung devices we've yet seen. Let's cut to the video for a complete explanation. (I realize it's long, but I'd recommend watching all the way through to see what's going on here.)
The issue was readily reproducible on both our S6 edge+ and Note 5 review units, and we aren't the first people to point this out.
The nice thing about having a huge public beta test is that, well, you get to test stuff. Apparently the reaction to the new dedicated Memory section of the Settings menu wasn't everything that Google had hoped for, because it's been given a notable redesign in the brand-new version 2. The most striking change is a new overview screen that appears when you first tap Memory. Now it shows you the total memory in use with a readout in MB or GB, instead of breaking it down by apps. You can view the readout by hour increments: three, six, twelve, or an entire day.
At the moment Android does a pretty decent job of managing its memory... but not a very good one of telling you exactly how it does that. The "Running" portion of the Apps menu in Lollipop shows what's being used by your system and your apps, then a list of apps' RAM usage (with numerical readouts only), and that's it. Starting with the Android M Developer Preview, this screen is much more informative, breaking down both the current and recent RAM usage on a per-app basis.
To see the new RAM Manager in Android M, go to the main Settings menu, then tap Apps.
As we all know, Google I/O is right around the corner. So far this year, we haven't seen too many early clues as to what Google will cover in its keynote (though Ars Technica's I/O tracker is a great place to get some ideas) outside of its new Photos app, but we do expect that Google will be telling us about Android M (internally called macadamia nut cookie or MNC).
The specifics of what Android M will bring to the table are still a mystery, but we've heard a few things that could make this an exciting update.
The mobile hardware arms race is about to get a new super-weapon. According to a blog post on Samsung Tomorrow, the company's electronics division has begun production of the world's first run of 8Gb (that's gigabit, not gigabyte) memory modules designed for mobile devices. The 8Gb LPDDR4 chips are roughly twice as dense as the previous generation of mobile memory. The first OEM product offered using the new design will be a 4 gigabyte RAM module.
Samsung makes sure to note the 20-nanometer microarchitecture of the new chips, which allows for both faster processing and less power consumption. The quoted speed for the RAM is an astonishing 3.2 gigabits per second, considerably faster than most DDR3 memory modules available for full-sized desktops.
Think of smartwatches now like smartphones were around 2008 - despite the fact that the idea has been around for a long time, everyone is still trying to figure out the best way to go about it. In Android Wear, Google is trying to make a super-simple interface based on short swipes, taps, and voice commands... which leaves a lot of users craving more conventional tools. So we've got a launcher, a web browser, a file explorer (ugh) and now a substitute for the Recent Apps menu in Android OS.
Swipify allows you to swipe in from the right side of the screen to see a radial list of your recently-used apps, along with a readout of your available RAM.
Unlike a lot of Android OEMs, Samsung makes many of the components that go into devices in-house. Its chip powers not just Samsung devices, but a large chunk of all phones. Samsung's newest memory chips rely on new manufacturing tech that packs in a full gigabyte of RAM on a single die. That would make it economical to get a whopping 4GB of RAM in a phone or tablet.
If you've used Android 4.1 or later on a phone or tablet with 1GB of RAM, you know things can get a little tight in the memory department. That's what makes newer and slightly underpowered devices like the Lenovo Yoga a little disappointing. Google has decided to trim the fat with Android 4.4 in an initiative they've christened "Project Svelte." This isn't a single change, it's a wide range of additions to the Android API and optional hardware configurations designed to make KitKat run smoothly on devices with as little as 512MB of system memory.
According to the new 4.4 developer page, Project Svelte starts with recommendations and options targeted at device manufacturers.
Yesterday's video for the allegedly "new" Nexus 7, widely speculated to be revealed at Google's July 24th event, was a bit low-fi to get the details. Today CNET has a new image, purportedly from the same source, that gives us a clearer image of that specification sticker on the back of the tablet. There's just one new piece of information that we couldn't make out before, under the "Memory" entry: DDR3LM 1600 256M*16.
For those of you who don't obsessively upgrade your PCs, that's 16 modules of 256MB of DDR3 (fast) RAM each, totaling - wait for it - 4 gigabytes.