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Macbook Pro RAM upgrade

Soldering in 16GB of RAM. Easy or buy a new Mac after the attempt? ;)

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Please note that everything below is theoretical at this point, do NOT desolder your RAM just yet ;)I'm still in love with my by now classic Macbook Pro early 2015 13". It's a wonderful little Macbook but two specs are becoming a bit... outdated and that is the disk-size and the amount of RAM. Mine came with 8 gigabytes worth of RAM (max was 16GB and that was way too expensive back then). A random google showed that it is actually possible to upgrade soldered RAM chips on some Macbooks, so now i'm investigating mine. My inspiration was this video on Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTsEJ49LLsQ

Note: this projectblog uses some photos (or crops thereof) from iFixit.com from their Macbook Teardown, which is a great read in it's own right.

My Macbook is a A1502, 820-4924 board.

In the schematics we're off to a promising start

So all different models of this macbook are done with the same logic board. And apparently all models use 1866mhz DDR3, either by Hynix, Epida or Samsung


And you can configure the amount of RAM using some config-lines!

So this seems to be pretty straightforward. The different options of RAM are controlled by a few GPIO lines on the CPU which are either pulled high or low with a few resistors.

Now what model of RAM should we buy? Apple provides one type in the schematic:


LPDDR3-1600-32GB, EDFB232A1MA

Which leads to... A testing document by Intel in which they've tested compatibility of various RAM chips for the specific CPU i'm using:

So i'll probably need either:

  • Micron EDFB232A1MA-JD-F
  • Samsung K4EBE304EB-EGCF
  • Hynix H9CCNNNCLTMLAR-NUD

And with a bit of puzzling i've figured out (i think) what each of the 4 configuration settings does:

My questions now: is my reasoning correct in assuming the three chips i've mentioned will probably fit and work? Where can i obtain these chips?

Adobe Portable Document Format - 59.48 kB - 03/07/2019 at 17:10

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lpddr3-1600-5th-gen-core-ult-validation-results.pdf

Intel LPDDR3 validation results for the 5th gen core ULT chips.

Adobe Portable Document Format - 242.63 kB - 03/04/2019 at 20:18

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Schematic 820-4924_a_a1502.pdf

Schematic for the Macbook Pro 13" 2015

Adobe Portable Document Format - 1.40 MB - 03/04/2019 at 20:13

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820-4924-A.brd

Boardview for the Macbook Pro 13" 2015

brd - 575.54 kB - 03/04/2019 at 20:13

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  • 4 × H9CCNNNCLTMLAR-NUD 4 gigabyte RAM chips, LPDDR3, 1866mhz
  • 1 × Macbook Pro 13", 2015 Base model, 8GB

  • Planning the soldering

    Sebastius03/08/2019 at 21:08 0 comments

    Besides soldering the RAM itself is that a few config lines need to change (based on the schematic and my RAM, both Hynix brand 1866mhz):

    RAMCFG0 H -> L

    RAMCFG1 L -> H

    That means the following resistors need to change

    R1611 moves to R1635 (100k)

    R2052 moves to R2053 (10k) 

    The components can be located using the .BRD file and the utility Openboardview.org 

    moves to 

    And then

    moves to

    So this issue is mainly finding the right resistors and pads. 

  • RAM is in!

    Sebastius03/08/2019 at 15:58 0 comments

    In a very fast DHL maneuver, the RAM is in. Note: i will not be soldering these chips any time soon, i'll first want to practice a LOT on old SO-DIMM modules. 

  • Scraping

    Sebastius03/06/2019 at 21:59 0 comments

    Well i have a shipping notice on the RAM, but i still need to confirm everything might work. My chip has two different letters in it's code compared to the original Macbook RAM as shown by iFixit.

    The SK Hynix site does have some documentation on some of their chips and how it is labeled. It is however incomplete: the document for LPDDR3 is missing. I suspect it might still be in their archive, just not on the website anymore. So i've asked a friend of mine to write a little scraper:

    for i in {0..1000}; do wget --content-disposition --no-clobber "https://www.skhynix.com/static/filedata/fileDownload.do?seq=$i"; sleep .5; done
    

    Which downloaded SK Hynix entire archive for me in a few minutes. Besides their annual reports, catalogues and some other stuff i hit the jackpot: the LPDDR3 naming scheme!

    So my chip is the H9CCNNNCLTMLAR-NUD and that translates to:

    H - Hynix chip!

    9 - MCP product family

    CC - MCP DDR3 only 

    NN - None NVM density

    N - None NVM Voltage

    CL - I assume 32Gb, QDP, 1Ch, 2CS (but not confirmed), 8GB is the BL

    T - 1.2V/1.2, x32

    M - 1st Die generation (iFixit is 2nd)

    LA - FPGA 178 Ball

    R - Lead & Halogen free

    N - None NVM speed

    U - DDR3 1866 (CL14)

    D - Not sure yet, but related to operating temperature

    So it seems my memory might be compatible for my plans!

  • Confirming some suspicions

    Sebastius03/05/2019 at 22:47 0 comments

    Today i did some digging. Turns out the 'About my mac' menu can tell you the RAM manufacturer. 

    The manufacturer code 0x80AD translates to SK Hynix, which is fortunate because it matches the brand i've ordered my chips from. For your record, a partial list:

    • 0x014F - Transcend Information
    • 0x2C00—Micron Technology, Inc.
    • 0x802C—Micron Technology, Inc.
    • 0x80AD—Hynix Semiconductor Inc.
    • 0x80CE—Samsung Electronics, Inc.
    • 0xAD00—Hynix Semiconductor Inc.
    • 0xCE00—Samsung Electronics, Inc.

    Further digging on the ifixit.com website turns up their 8GB model also has Hynix memory and thanks to their awesome board-photo's i can determine the model RAM on their board (i will need to open my Macbook at some point still to confirm).

    It's the H9CCNNNBLTALAR-NUD chip. The ones i ordered are hopefully of the same series, the H9CCNNNCLTMLAR-NUD version. There are two letters different, of which i think i've determined that the B-C stands for the 16->32gigabit upgrade and the A->M stands for the A revision->M revision. 

    The nasty is that i'm unable to predict a working system because all my variables are unknown:

    • Are the chips i buy really brand new and 100% okay
    • Will my soldering be good enough
    • Will adjusting the jumpers work
    • Is there magic in the firmware of the macbooks that is (in)compatible with these chips
    • And probably other stuff i'm forgetting...

  • RAM ordered!

    Sebastius03/04/2019 at 20:12 0 comments

    In a blatant leap of faith i've ordered some RAM chips on Alibaba: 4x the H9CCNNNCLTMLAR-NUD made by Hynix. It lists as compatible on the Intel documents, and had the capacity and speed i need (4x 4GB or 4x 32Gbit). Shipping is done by DHL so it should be here soon. Now i need to work on my nerves as i will have to take apart my beloved little Macbook...

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