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Apple is rumored to be packing 19 nm, 400 MBps, ONFI 3.0 compliant flash memory onto the motherboard of the new MacBook Air.  (Source: 9 to 5 Mac)
Integrating chips into the motherboard could allow the MacBook Air to offer high performance affordably

With a refresh of the MacBook Air seemingly impending the rumor mill surrounding Apple Inc. (AAPL) is once again heating up.  

According to Macotakara.jp, a Japanese Apple fan site, the latest version of the ultraportable will use cutting edge flash memory technology.  The site cites sources at unnamed Asian chipmakers as claiming that the latest Airs will contain 19nm flash memory chips soldered directly onto the motherboard for blazing speeds of up to 400 megabits per second.

Current generation MacBook Airs only have RAM chips soldered on.  The SSD for the laptops are connected using mSATA connectors.

Apple reportedly calls the new technology Toggle DDR2.0.  Aside from the rather curious title (ostensibly it involves NAND flash, not DDR memory), the technology is expected to be Apple's proprietary implementation of the Open NAND Flash Interface (ONFI) Working Group's ONFI 3.0 standard.

ONFI 3.0 promises faster speeds and reduces the number of pins on flash memory chips.  These factors add up to nearly "instant" boot times and fast file copies.

If the rumor about the new flash is true, it likely comes from Micron Technology, Inc. (MU), Intel Corp. (INTC), or Spansion Inc. (CODE) -- all members of the ONFI 3.0 coalition.  Apple's current NAND supplier, South Korea's Samsung Electronics (SEO:005930), and the world's second biggest producer, Toshiba Corp. (TYO:6502) are not currently members.

A split with Samsung would make sense, given Apple's ongoing legal war with the gadget and component maker.

At times Apple has been on the bleeding edge of introducing new standards.  It was the first major manufacturer to push Intel's proprietary LightPeak interface, which it renamed Thunderbolt.  The refresh of the MacBook Air is expected to come packing Thunderbolt as well, which requires fancy chip-laden $50 USD cables to work.

OS X Lion and the refreshed MacBook Air are expected to launch on July 14.



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Probably not Spansion or SandForce
By MrTeal on 7/5/2011 4:41:32 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
If the rumor about the new flash is true, it likely comes from Micron Technology, Inc. (MU), Intel Corp. (INTC), Spansion Inc. (CODE), or SandForce -- all members of the ONFI 3.0 coalition.


I can't see Apple relying on Spansion, their product line does match up with high volume SSD production, and Apple might not want to deal in quantity with a company just coming out of Chapter 11. SandForce doesn't make any flash, so they would be tough to buy flash from.

Regardless of whether it's soldered onto the board or routed through an external connector, both interfaces will likely still have to go through the SATA or PCIe bus, unless Apple has convinced Intel to make them a chipset that directly talks to the NAND. Performance will still be dictated by whatever controller they use in the design.




RE: Probably not Spansion or SandForce
By Motoman on 7/5/2011 4:47:56 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Regardless of whether it's soldered onto the board or routed through an external connector, both interfaces will likely still have to go through the SATA or PCIe bus, unless Apple has convinced Intel to make them a chipset that directly talks to the NAND. Performance will still be dictated by whatever controller they use in the design.


Exactly, ultimately being one more wildly anti-consumer "innovation" by Apple...because then what do you do when one of those chips goes bad? Plop in a new hard drive/RAM stick? Nope. Motherboard replacement. Just like not giving consumers access to replace a battery or something...they'll spin it with the usual kool-aid marinade, but in the end it will be Apple consumers that take a bath in it. Again.


By MrTeal on 7/5/2011 4:56:09 PM , Rating: 2
Why would you replace the motherboard when you could just buy a new 2013 MBA?

It makes you wonder what they plan to offer for storage sizes though, and if there will still be a port for expansion. At least now there are other vendors of mSATA hard drives that you could move to if you want a higher capacity than Apple offers. If Apple goes beyond just creating a fast boot SSD on the MB to complement the other drive and completely removes the mSATA port, you're stuck with whatever they give you. It's a step back to the bad old days.

BTW- 400Mbps refers to the interface speed for the toggle NAND. That's different than saying 400MB/s, as in the title.


RE: Probably not Spansion or SandForce
By Pirks on 7/5/2011 6:11:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
being one more wildly anti-consumer "innovation" by Apple
Guys, just watch Motoman rolling and changing course every day, yesterday he was frothing about how ordinary and standard Apple is, "just like the others" and shit, today he's completely rotated in the opposite direction, now Apple's innovations are "bad" and shit. Tomorrow he'll forget about these innovations and will start his old dumb song about Apple being "no innovation" and shit, then he'll rotate again. And again. And again. Just like a wind sock, hehehe :) LOL


By yomamafor1 on 7/5/2011 9:15:26 PM , Rating: 2
Only two manufacturers make 19nm NANDs, Toshiba and Sandisk.

As for SSD controller, I doubt it'll be SandForce. Apple would need to inflate the price of their MBAs even more to justify the use of SandForce. My money would be on the low cost Marvell, since most, if not all of the MBA users don't know the difference between HDD and SSD, let alone one that is powered by Marvell.


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