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Teardown of Apple's 11.6-in MacBook Air shows six internal batteries

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
The inside of Apple's new instant-on, lightweight 11.6-inch MacBook Air has six separate lithium-polymer battery cells, accounting for most of the device's size and weight.

iFixit on Thursday posted its typically thorough disassembly of the new 11.6-inch MacBook Air. Inside, they found the six battery cells which "dominate" the space inside the thin-and-light machine.

The internal components are slightly different from those found in the 13.3-inch model, a prototype of which was spotted before the device was even revealed on Wednesday. That larger MacBook Air has four separate batteries, which are bigger and provide up to 7 hours of active battery life.

In its teardown, the solutions provider found that the onboard 64GB of flash storage easily disconnects from the logic board, but the part is completely custom, meaning an off-the shelf part cannot be used to replace it.

The unique 64GB of onboard memory is made up of six main chips -- four 16GB flash memory chips and a solid state drive controller from Toshiba, and a Micron OKA17 D9HSJ DDR DRAM cache. The proprietary solid state drive is just 2.45 mm thick and weighs 10 grams, while the previous MacBook Air's hard disk drive was 5.12 mm thick and weighed 45 grams.



The new MacBook Air also uses the same Broadcom Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip found on the current MacBook Pros. However, to fit into the tiny frame of the MacBook Air, it comes in a different form factor.



All of the cooling of the new notebook is accomplished with just one, tiny internal fan. Ribbon cable connection points found inside were also discovered to have epoxy on them that acts as an insulator, perhaps to prevent issues if their protective plastic wears out over time.



Included on the logic board are the MacBook Air's Intel Core 2 Duo 1.4GHz processor, Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics, and 2GB of Elpida J1108EFBG RAM. Just as with MacBook Air models, the RAM is soldered to the logic board, making it not upgradable.

For more, see the full teardown at iFixit.

post #2 of 42
I soooo want a 11.6" MacBook Air, then my wife can get my 13" MacBook Pro. I'll wait until Mac Connection or whoever inevitably starts offering rebates/discounts on these things
post #3 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


In its teardown, the solutions provider found that the onboard 64GB of flash storage easily disconnects from the logic board, but the part is completely custom, meaning an off-the shelf part cannot be used to replace it.

But a future version of the part, using higher capacity memory chips, could be used (by an Apple repair person) to replace it, right?
post #4 of 42
Apples own video on the MacBook Air clearly shows 4 (identical to the leaked photo)...
post #5 of 42
Anyone else think that having 6 batteries strewn about is weird?
post #6 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Anyone else think that having 6 batteries strewn about is weird?

I do, seems like a waste of the space in between. With Apple building their own batteries, they could have built a battery to fit the space and probably gotten another 30 mins out if it. Maybe a heat issue.
post #7 of 42
I really like the flash-storage format. I hope this becomes more-or-less a PC-standard as well. We can just do away SSD drive cages and have empty flash memory slots.

One could conceivably have a 5.25" drive bay with nothing but this connectors for flash memory too for tower configurations.

Another possibility is to have this storage format on future iMacs where the drive "bay" is on the bottom of the monitor in the same area where their current RAM dimms are.

Lots of possibilities for even thinner iMacs too!
post #8 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The inside of Apple's new instant-on, lightweight 11.6-inch MacBook Air has six separate lithium-polymer battery cells, accounting for most of the device's size and weight....

Actually, it's one battery with six cells.

It doesn't take that much effort to report things correctly you know.
post #9 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe hs View Post

Apples own video on the MacBook Air clearly shows 4 (identical to the leaked photo)...

The production team probably didn't have access to the final version. Video was probably a week ago...
post #10 of 42
Beautiful....

Does anyone know if the new MBA comes with iLife '11 included? Thx

Best
post #11 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe hs View Post

Apples own video on the MacBook Air clearly shows 4 (identical to the leaked photo)...

Actually, the photos on Apple's site shows the 13" MacBook Air which has 4x Large batteries or a large battery of 4 cells. The 11.6" has the six small ones.
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post #12 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbonner View Post

I do, seems like a waste of the space in between. With Apple building their own batteries, they could have built a battery to fit the space and probably gotten another 30 mins out if it. Maybe a heat issue.

Perhaps this way when one of the cells fails, you can replace only the failed cell.
post #13 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

Beautiful....

Does anyone know if the new MBA comes with iLife '11 included? Thx

Best

Nope, but you get special pricing when iLife '11 is available.
post #14 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Anyone else think that having 6 batteries strewn about is weird?

Not at all, you now have much more surface area to dissipate the heat.
post #15 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post

Nope, but you get special pricing when iLife '11 is available.

Thanks, Dude...appreciate the answer to my question.

Best!
post #16 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbonner View Post

I do, seems like a waste of the space in between. With Apple building their own batteries, they could have built a battery to fit the space and probably gotten another 30 mins out if it. Maybe a heat issue.

I think it's probably a thin issue. Battery packs tend to be flat and it looks like the ones at the front are thinner and the ones in the middle don't reach the edge.

When we look at the machines, we look at how they could build one machine; when they do it, they have to think about how they build millions of them so they have to consider the parts available to them and associated costs.

They probably tried a number of configurations.
post #17 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post

Not at all, you now have much more surface area to dissipate the heat.

Yep! And in addition, one huge bulky battery is a lot more difficult to place inside such a thin piece of hardware. I wonder if other companies came to similar solutions to this. But probably apple is once more playing a solo game.l
post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by rbonner View Post

I do, seems like a waste of the space in between. With Apple building their own batteries, they could have built a battery to fit the space and probably gotten another 30 mins out if it. Maybe a heat issue.

I thought that as well. Must be some technical reason they did it this way instead of as one big battery....
post #19 of 42
Is the storage connected via SATA, mini-PCIe or something else? System Profiler should tell us, but I cant find a screen shot of it yet.

edit: Found it at Ars.
Serial-ATA:

NVidia MCP89 AHCI:
Vendor: NVidia
Product: MCP89 AHCI
Link Speed: 3 Gigabit
Negotiated Link Speed: 3 Gigabit
Description: AHCI Version 1.30 Supported

APPLE SSD TS128C:
Capacity: 121.33 GB (121,332,826,112 bytes)
Model: APPLE SSD TS128C
Revision: CJAA0201
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post #20 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

Beautiful....

Does anyone know if the new MBA comes with iLife '11 included? Thx

Best

Quote:
Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post

Nope, but you get special pricing when iLife '11 is available.

In the presentation, on October 20, Steve said, "iLife '11 is available today. So you can get it today"

I believe that the new MBAs come with iLife '11 preinstalled.
post #21 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

Beautiful....

Does anyone know if the new MBA comes with iLife '11 included? Thx

I believe so. Look at the top right corner (near Select your 13 inch MacBook Air) on this link: http://store.apple.com/us/browse/hom...ly/macbook_air
post #22 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

Beautiful....

Does anyone know if the new MBA comes with iLife '11 included? Thx

Best

It does come with iLife 11 according to their site, under the web store.
post #23 of 42
Can anyone confirm if the ram is user upgradable or you have to get it from the factory with 4gb preinstalled?
post #24 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gxcad View Post

Can anyone confirm if the ram is user upgradable or you have to get it from the factory with 4gb preinstalled?

RAM is soldered on the board. You need to order the extra RAM when you purchase it.
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post #25 of 42
I still think GPS and Find My Mac would have been awesome additions to every new Mac notebook that could help promote sales of their HW and MobileMe. Maybe next time.
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post #26 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by kohelet View Post

RAM is soldered on the board. You need to order the extra RAM when you purchase it.

For $100 it is one upgrade that anyone who buys this thing should make.
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post #27 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

Beautiful....

Does anyone know if the new MBA comes with iLife '11 included? Thx

Best

Quote:
Originally Posted by cmf2 View Post

For $100 it is one upgrade that anyone who buys this thing should make.


I know all Macbook and mini that I saw from apple store UK yesterday carries the new iLife '11. Didn't check iMac and mac pro tho.
post #28 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Snitch View Post

I thought that as well. Must be some technical reason they did it this way instead of as one big battery....

I'll venture a guess.

The MBA is tapered down at the front while thicker at the rear. Therefore, you have less available volume at the front than at the rear. If you made a single, large battery, assuming you don't have the ability (or for cost reasons) to make a trapezoidal shaped battery, you break them up into separate cells. The cells closer to the front are thinner but wider. While the ones closer to the middle/back are slightly thicker but narrower.

Just a guess. Maybe ifixit can measure out the overall dimensions and volumes for the cells.
post #29 of 42
O.K., so the pictures of the guts is interesting and all...especially the non-upgradable RAM....definitely good to know.....

But now we need the user reviews and performance specs to see how these puppies perform! Do they perform like....well.......dogs? Or like.......leopards?
post #30 of 42
That logic board is intense. The fact that we can now stick a decent gpu, a dual core cpu and 4 gigs of ram on something so tiny that can be cooled with a single fan is absolutely intense. When I think back to 486 days Days of my 1st PC and the see something like MBA is just unbelievable.
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post #31 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

Lots of possibilities for even thinner iMacs too!

I cannot accept this seemingly endless quest to make computers that are too thin to have any reasonable amount of internal storage. You do realize that 64GB of flash costs more than a 2TB hard drive don't you?

If Apple wants me to buy an AppleTV and stream my iTunes library to my television then they're going to have to provide reasonable options for storing all that content that don't involve long chains of external hard drives.

Yes I know they want us to rent and stream everything but that isn't going to happen. As long as there are children in this world parents will need either physical copies of movies or some other local copy so we don't have to pay to watch Tinkerbell or Finding Nemo 10 times a month.

I expect my next new Mac to have at least 2TB of internal storage and significantly more than that in external enclosures for iTunes, Time Machine, drive clones and archived files.
post #32 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

That logic board is intense. The fact that we can now stick a decent gpu, a dual core cpu and 4 gigs of ram on something so tiny that can be cooled with a single fan is absolutely intense. When I think back to 486 days Days of my 1st PC and the see something like MBA is just unbelievable.

I remember the Apple ][+ from my childhood. Back in those days Apple provided you with a schematic diagram of the logic board so you could understand what all the chips were and how they interconnected. Wild stuff.
post #33 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bregalad View Post

I cannot accept this seemingly endless quest to make computers that are too thin to have any reasonable amount of internal storage. You do realize that 64GB of flash costs more than a 2TB hard drive don't you?

If Apple wants me to buy an AppleTV and stream my iTunes library to my television then they're going to have to provide reasonable options for storing all that content that don't involve long chains of external hard drives.

Yes I know they want us to rent and stream everything but that isn't going to happen. As long as there are children in this world parents will need either physical copies of movies or some other local copy so we don't have to pay to watch Tinkerbell or Finding Nemo 10 times a month.

I expect my next new Mac to have at least 2TB of internal storage and significantly more than that in external enclosures for iTunes, Time Machine, drive clones and archived files.

Totally agree with you.
post #34 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post

Nope, but you get special pricing when iLife '11 is available.

iLife is included for free with all Mac purchases. ilife 11 is already on the store shelves at the Apple Store.
post #35 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I still think GPS and Find My Mac would have been awesome additions to every new Mac notebook that could help promote sales of their HW and MobileMe. Maybe next time.

Agreed. What are your thoughts to lack of an illuminated key board? IMO that should be standard also. I'm a big fan of the thinkpads little light. Comes in very handy.
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post #36 of 42
I will be upgrading from my 2006 17" MacBook Pro to the 13.3" MacBook Air. Though I'm puzzled why Apple opted to go with USB 2.0 instead of the faster USB 3.0. The latter of which is faster than firewire. I'm also confused why Apple opted to make FaceTime a separate app instead of including it in iChatAV. One app active is better than keeping both active.
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post #37 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by boeyc15 View Post

Agreed. What are your thoughts to lack of an illuminated key board? IMO that should be standard also. I'm a big fan of the thinkpads little light. Comes in very handy.


haha, illuminated keyboard very nice, but i also preffer the thinkpad light


info for this is very nice, now i gotta decide for a larger screen or more ram....

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post #38 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imagine Engine View Post

I will be upgrading from my 2006 17" MacBook Pro to the 13.3" MacBook Air. Though I'm puzzled why Apple opted to go with USB 2.0 instead of the faster USB 3.0. The latter of which is faster than firewire. I'm also confused why Apple opted to make FaceTime a separate app instead of including it in iChatAV. One app active is better than keeping both active.

USB 3.0 hasn't been finalized yet.

I was confused too at first but thin I realized that by making FaceTime a separate app they made it drop dead simple to configure and start a call. Did you see the demo, 1,2, oh, no 3. There are going to be allot of people that will never or have never used iChat but will use FaceTime. That's my guess anyways.
post #39 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by mretondo View Post

I was confused too at first but thin I realized that by making FaceTime a separate app they made it drop dead simple to configure and start a call. Did you see the demo, 1,2, oh, no 3. There are going to be allot of people that will never or have never used iChat but will use FaceTime. That's my guess anyways.

I am under the impression that companies can’t just add major new features without accounting for them in the budget. IOW, adding it to iChat is more than a simple bug fix or refinement of the finalized version of Snow Leopard, the only way to get iChat.

Plus, it’s still a Beta, not something that should be pumped to every version of iChat at this moment or include in the Mac OS X 10.6.5 beta.

I imagine that Mac OS X 10.7 will have FaceTime as a part of iChat and be tied to the system itself so you can FaceTime, say, right from Address Book with a click.
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post #40 of 42
The USB Restore Stick for the MBA is apparently 8GB. Half the size I thought it would be. How did they get all of Mac OS X plus iLife onto 8GB?

I understand that they don’t need all the other Mac drivers for the system specific restores, but that is a small part of the overall size and even the system specific Restore Discs come on 2 DL-DVDs. Did they push some things, like Garageband loops, to a server to be part of a future update after you get the machine?
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