Matthew Panzarino Talks With Craig Federighi About Stage Manager

Matthew Panzarino, writing at TechCrunch:

“It’s only the M1 iPads that combined the high DRAM capacity with
very high capacity, high performance NAND that allows our virtual
memory swap to be super fast,” Federighi says. “Now that we’re
letting you have up to four apps on a panel plus another four — up to eight apps to be instantaneously responsive and have plenty
of memory, we just don’t have that ability on the other systems.”

It was not purely the availability of memory that led Apple to
limit Stage Manager to M1 iPads though.

“We also view stage manager as a total experience that involves
external display connectivity. And the I/O on the M1 supports
connectivity that our previous iPads don’t, it can drive 4K, 5K,
6K displays, it can drive them at scaled resolutions. We can’t do
that on other iPads.”

Graphics performance, too, was a limiter.

“We really designed Stage Manager to take full advantage [of the
M1]. If you look at the way the apps tilt and shadow and how they
animate in and out. To do that at super high frame rates, across
very large displays and multiple displays, requires the peak of
graphics performance that no one else can deliver.

“When you put all this together, we can’t deliver the full stage
manager experience on any lesser system,” Federighi says. “I mean,
we would love to make it available everywhere we can. But this is
what it requires. This is the experience we’re going to carry into
the future. We didn’t want to constrain our design to something
lesser, we’re setting the benchmark for the future.”

Good interview that really digs into the why of Stage Manager, especially for iPad.

As for the “only for M1 iPads” things, the key thing to glean from this is that it’s not just that M1 iPads have more RAM, but also the hardware pieces to enable virtual memory swap on an iOS device for the first time. You usually don’t hear nerdy comp-sci terms like “virtual memory swap” in the morning keynote or in the main press release for the platform — that sort of stuff is usually reserved for the afternoon State of the Union. But “swap” made it into the morning keynote because it’s a big deal.

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