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Apple looks to SSDs for next year's notebooks

As DailyTech reported earlier this week, companies like Samsung are just now bringing hybrid drives to the market which incorporate traditional spinning discs with 128MB or 256MB of NAND flash memory. However, hybrid hard drive are just a stop-gate measure and many manufacturers (and consumers alike) are looking forward to completely solid-state drives (SSDs) like those from Adtron, SanDisk and Ritek.

SSDs are completely silent, offer greatly increased power efficiency over traditional hard disk drives (HDDs), low response times and in the case of Adtron's latest SSD offerings, quite respectable read/write speeds.

According to Shaw Wu, an analyst for American Technology Research, Apple is looking to introduce subnotebooks next year that will use SSDs. Wu, who had an inside line on Apple's iPhone announcement notes that "The time is right for the flash makers to make a move. Apple, from what we understand, is pretty much ready. The ball is in the flash vendors' court."  

Apple has quite a bit of experience when it comes to flash-based storage. Its iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle both use NAND memory in capacities up to 8GB. Apple's recently announced iPhone also uses NAND memory in capacities of 4GB and 8GB.

Apple subnotebooks, however, would likely require at least 64GB of storage to remain competitive both in terms of storage space and price with HDD-based subnotebooks. Currently 32GB SSDs command roughly a $600 price premium. Given the steady decline in pricing for NAND memory, the premium could be $600 for a 64GB by the time the Apple subnotebooks hit the market.

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By stevenplatt on 3/9/2007 2:05:50 PM , Rating: 2
I'm really curious as to how much more this will cost. Will it only be available in thier macbook pro line? I am currently a PC only guy but my next laptop will be apple. Cant wait for details.

RE: Costs?
By ksherman on 3/9/2007 2:11:21 PM , Rating: 2
There is no way the current MacBook Pros could survive on 64GB. This is likely to take form in a new 12" MacBook (maybe Pro. That is what all the signs seem to be pointing towards.

Additionally, I could see a 12" MBP for a round $2Gs with the SSD. Too bad that if that is the road Apple takes, there will likely not be an option to get one sans the SSD.

RE: Costs?
By nomagic on 3/9/2007 2:14:33 PM , Rating: 5
I only hope that when Apple advertise their SSD parts, they wont say that "our SDD parts are better than the same SDD parts in PCs." But I guess that is too much to ask for.

RE: Costs?
By nomagic on 3/9/2007 2:15:32 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Costs?
By stuartf on 3/9/07, Rating: -1
RE: Costs?
By dice1111 on 3/9/2007 2:41:47 PM , Rating: 3
Really? Is that what everyone's talking about? :p

RE: Costs?
By FITCamaro on 3/9/2007 3:32:02 PM , Rating: 4
I have an 12.1" iBook for a DVD player on planes.

$600 premium on top of an already overpriced laptop? No. $2000 should be the high end of laptops. Not the base price or low end. My at the time top of the line Sager cost me $2400 when Dell was charging $3000+ for it.

I love this reason for buying a Mac instead of Vista on their website.
"4. You don't have to buy new stuff."

Umm...the Mac?

Apple touts how Mac's can run Windows because of virtualization software. How bout you let people emulate OS X Apple? Oh right, then you can't overcharge for it and would have to make it available to anyone.

MacBook base price. $1099.
1.83GHz C2D, 512MB RAM, 60GB hard drive, Single Layer DVD Burner, 13" screen, OS X

Dell Inspiron E1405 $1099
1.66GHz C2D, 1GB RAM, 160GB hard drive, Dual layer DVD burner, 14" screen, Vista Home Premium

Now I'm not a big fan of Vista(or Dell), but hardware wise, you get 2.5x the hard drive space, double the memory, and a bigger screen for the same money. $375 upgrade to upgrade the memory and hard drive on the Mac.

Sorry but I take better hardware over a laudably better OS.

RE: Costs?
By ObscureCaucasian on 3/9/2007 4:39:43 PM , Rating: 3
Although it won't be the most economical move, Apples following usually pride themselves on having the best most overpriced tech around. Perhaps Apple can get good deals on the Flash Memory with all those Nano's they sell.

RE: Costs?
By Tegeril on 3/9/07, Rating: 0
RE: Costs?
By livelouddiefast on 3/10/2007 5:01:45 AM , Rating: 2
.17 ghz is silly!? No one will notice a difference except 3dMark.

only difference between the procs is clock speed. t5500 vs. t5600 proc. One step off, same cache. No one should be bothering with a .17 ghz difference. Just a higher multiplier.

RE: Costs?
By zeroslugfm on 3/10/2007 12:11:02 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry but I take "better" hardware over a laudably better OS.

...some people like the convenience of OSX. Hardware-wise, that's nothing new to anyone familiar with Apple~

but to the point; at least Apple is making an attempt at adopting a newer technology faster than in years past.

RE: Costs?
By robolobo on 3/10/2007 2:33:41 PM , Rating: 1
A distorted comparison if I ever saw one.
Why not mention that if you compare for example, the top of the line Mac desktop offering with Dell you would save approx. $900 by buying Apple.
You know that, so why play dumb?
Let me guess, you must work for Faux News.....

RE: Costs?
By Lakku on 3/10/2007 3:21:27 PM , Rating: 2
Shut up, shut up, shut up. I am tired of people calling Apple laptops overpriced. If YOU want a bulky plastic piece of shit, go ahead and buy a Dell for the same price. Sure, their cheaper laptops are more competative, mainly because they sell so many of them, and save you money by doing volume. However, compare the Macbook Pro to a Dell with the same specs, and the Dell is more money.

Macbook Pro high end - $2799
2.33GHz C2D, 2GB RAM, 160GB HD, dual layer DVD burner, ATi x1600 256MB, OS X (and you can put vista on it if you want on your own)

Dell M1710 with similar specs - 3,494
The only difference? A 7900GS with 256MB RAM and a slightly higher res screen I do believe

This doesn't take into account the backlight keyboard of the Mac, usually only found on Dells highest end gaming laptop, the SLIM design at around 1 inch thick (Dell is almost 2 inches), the Apple weighs less, is made of aluminum, and isn't a Dell POS. I'm sick of this argument, so please get the facts straight, or at least include the other tangibles that the Macs can have for some people. As soon as PC laptop makers stop putting out huge, plastic, bulky, and fugly laptops, I will pay attention. But if I can get a very slim and unbulky 17inch laptop for a better price, with similar specs, which are YOU gonna take?

RE: Costs?
By GaryJohnson on 3/12/2007 1:38:36 AM , Rating: 2
Would it be better to compare the Macbook Pro to a Dell E1705 rather than a Dell M1710?

RE: Costs?
By dcalfine on 3/11/2007 11:08:47 AM , Rating: 2
It's a bit dated, but read this:

The point remains, you have to consider ALL features of the computer, not just the raw hardware specs. You could create an immobile computer (desktop, I guess) with hardware twice as good for the same price, but that defeats the purpose of having a laptop.

If you don't want those features, buy a PC and stop complaining. But some people do want them and are willing to pay extra money for them.

RE: Costs?
By Samus on 3/10/2007 2:54:45 AM , Rating: 2
It's a mac product. No matter how expensive or crappy it is, people will buy it because it makes them feel special and tingly inside like a meat popsicle.

The Laptop overhaul...............
By crystal clear on 3/10/07, Rating: 0
RE: The Laptop overhaul...............
By TomZ on 3/10/2007 5:28:40 PM , Rating: 2
My bet would be on Robson instead of hybrid HDDs. After all, what is the benefit of putting the NV cache on the other side of a SATA connection when it can be mapped right into the processor's memory space where read access would be orders of magnitude faster? Hybrid hard drives will just be a stopgap measure until Robson is widely available.

By crystal clear on 3/10/2007 11:21:08 PM , Rating: 1
Hi there-now to your comment first then a detailed response,

"Hybrid hard drives will just be a stopgap measure until Robson is widely available."

Response- YES INDEED .

It all depends on the Laptop under consideration-

1)"SSD" as a standalone purchase,it would be wise to utilize the fast file access as a location for your operating system & swap files, and distribute File/System access between existing drives.

Intergrated features of the drive also let user easily take advantage of Vista new ReadyBoost/Superfetch features.

2)Samsung introduced a 4 GB SSD compatible with ReadyBoost(Vista), to improve system responiveness-enables users to avoid the hundres of annoying multi second delays they experience everyday when moving within and between frequently used applications.

Vista automatically compresses all data stored in a ReadyBoost device,the 4GB drive would in practice act as UP TO 8 GB of user data.

The 4 GB SSD can work in TANDEM with a hybrid hard drive,coming into play as a SECONDARY SOURCE of cached data.

This PERFORMANCE BOOSTER (4 GB SSD) can be located virtually
anywhere on the MOBO connected through the ATA port.

(I intentionally cut short the explainations -look up at Samsung site for more detailed explanation-SAMSUNG 4 GB SSD)

This is good for people like you/me that constantly use their laptops exclusively for Business purposes & LACK THE TIME-where SPEED is the criteria & NOT COST.
Where LAPTOPS are DESKTOPS & the SERVER is your Backup.

Give me a few minutes(urgent calls) I will be back with another post to your comment about Intel.

RE: The Laptop overhaul...............
By crystal clear on 3/11/2007 12:51:42 AM , Rating: 1
Ok back to you again-

Intel (as I see) has big plans for 2007 for the notebook market.They are as follows-

1)Intels COMMON BUILDING BLOCK (CBB) initiative-It aims at Notebook vendors (top 10 worldwide) & more than 50 component suppliers,which aims to STANDARDIZE notebook components & shorten TIME-TO-MARKET (TOM).
The advantages being simplified product development & efficient inventory control.Obviously COST BENEFITS also

2)Introduction of the SANTA ROSA PLATFORM (code name) for CENTRINO PLATFORM (4th generation)for Notebooks,under the brand names CENTRINO PRO & CENTRINO DUO.

3)PROCESSORS-The new processors for this platform being T7770,T7500,T7300 & T7100.
Whilst the current mainstream T2300,T2300E,T2400,T2500,T2600 & T2700 will be phased out-starting 3Q /07 & completely replaced(4Q/07) by the SantaRosa line up.

This in addition to Core 2 EXTREME X7800 (3Q/07)
then followed by Core 2 EXTREME X7900 (4Q/07)(HIGH END-Top of the LINE) also add to this
T7800, T250 (4Q/07)

4)Wireless network card based on 802.11n wirless specifications

With all the above elements mentioned above, one can expect VERY POWERFUL (INDEED) NOTEBOOKS & comparitively CHEAPER
(due to Intel Price cuts).

So to summarize it all-your assumptions:
"Hybrid hard drives will just be a stopgap measure until Robson is widely available."

Your are RIGHT on TARGET.

By crystal clear on 3/13/2007 1:48:07 AM , Rating: 1
Santa Rosa, is being officially unveiled on the 9th of May 2007

Too Little, Too Late
By osalcido on 3/9/2007 3:28:19 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone with a lick of sense knows that NAND Flash tech has been progressing WAY too damn slowly! Couple that with the fact that the supposed benefits (nominal speed improvements, energy savings) of Flash won't blow the consumers skirt up (well, maybe the price will) .... and you can quickly deduce that these drives will be a quick, expensive, and dead-end fad.

PRAM is the future.

RE: Too Little, Too Late
By jakejones on 3/11/2007 3:01:25 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously you are quite correct. Another recent article discussed the over exaggerated claims of MTBF for conventional hard drives. The MTBF rates for NAND (specifically the number of writes before the media begins to fail) would make this type of "drive" impractical for any PC environment. A NAND SSD is useful for devices where the data does not change often, and is read many times (PDAs, etc).

PRAM, when available, will certainly address the above issues to some extent, and will increase capacities and speed significantly. I think the issue of SSDs will be much more viable and interesting once PRAM is produced in significant amounts.

Old, but relevant.
RE: Old, but relevant.
By Hyperlite on 3/9/2007 3:29:37 PM , Rating: 2
bah. edit button por favor. anyway, i am frightened to see how much this will cost. Oh wait, it doesn't matter, people will still pay for it.

Making a move
By casket on 3/9/2007 9:58:50 PM , Rating: 2
"The time is right for the flash makers to make a move."
-- Although these 32 GB momdules are $600. They are not in mass production. Microsoft at one time wanted to use these for the X360.

If you ramp quantities on the 64 GB modules from 50,000/yr (limited production) to 5,000,000 / yr (mass production)...

There is no good reason why these can't cost $100 / piece or less.

A $200 SSD that goes 3x quicker than a hard drive could sell. 64GB could be the minimum storage amount to really compete against HD's in the Notebook segment. Less power. Similar storage. It is a smart statement.

No one is going to pay $600, though. That's not a move, that's a waste of money.

RE: Making a move
By Lakku on 3/10/2007 3:28:19 PM , Rating: 2
Except it doesn't go 3 times quicker then a hard drive, just finds data multitudes faster. People aren't jumping on them because of storage space, and because of overall speed.

Last year
By Griswold on 3/9/2007 4:10:38 PM , Rating: 1
During last years CeBIT, SanDisk and Samsung showed a prototype notebook with their (now available) 32GB SSD and people were baffled. There must be a reason why this aint old news today and the reason is price. I'm curious as to how apple will try to get around that problem with their already too pricey notebooks.

Who knows, maybe apple will be intels first big customer for that new PRAM.

RE: Last year
By PandaBear on 3/9/2007 9:31:00 PM , Rating: 2
When they first announced iPod Nano, they got a huge contract from samsung to buy nand for 1/2 the price on the market. They could easily do the same now that they have the large order on hand. If they jump start the market, then the price drop will follow. Since FAB is fixed cost and oversupply will kill any margin (i.e. like the $16.99 for 2GB right now), if they can find someone to absorb a large amount of memory it will raise the price everywhere else.

If they ship 100k drive a quarter, and each takes 32GB, that would be a lot of surplus taken out of the market.

By psychobriggsy on 3/9/2007 2:25:03 PM , Rating: 2
However ... I can see flash storage being useful in a sub-notebook, or ultra-compact tablet type system. These might not need 64GB, as in general use they'll be slaved to servers / internet for storage (and application!) requirements, with enough spare for 'on the go' use.

These systems might not run the full desktop Mac OS X either, but something that is just the bare essentials for the most common applications to run. It wouldn't be as cut down as the iPhone Mac OS X of course, and should still use the standard Mac OS X desktop otherwise it wouldn't be much of a computer... This will leave more space free in a 16GB drive (as an example, 32GB might be relatively cheap by 2008).

However it is all speculation at this point. Certainly I can see ~2010 being a crunch time for 2.5" laptop hard drives, when 128 & 256 GB flash drives are commonplace and not too expensive.

My guess
By Mudvillager on 3/9/2007 5:34:17 PM , Rating: 2
As always Apple try to improve on existing technology, and this time my guess is that they will redefine the ultraportable laptops with a MacBook weighting in at about 1.4 pounds, but still manages roughly 3.5 hours.
Specs obviously include a SSD drive (32GB-128GB), but also a 64-bit Merom ULV @ 1.1GHz + one singleSO-DIMM module (1-2GB) and a 10.4" OLED.
$2500 will get you one of these babies, in Q1 2008.

At least this is how it looks in my wet dreams :P

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein
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