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Toshiba announces MacBook Air solid state drives available for sale

post #1 of 44
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Toshiba this week announced that its Blade X-gale SSD series -- the same product first introduced in the new MacBook Air -- is now available for mass market sales, potentially bringing up to 256GB of storage to devices like tablets and laptops, and allowing Apple users easier upgrades.

As noted by MacRumors, Toshiba's part numbers are exactly the same as the components found inside the MacBook Air. The internal solid state drives also come in the same three capacities: 64GB, 128GB and 256GB.

The components offer a maximum sequential read speed of 220MB per second, and a maximum sequential write speed of 180MB per second. The 64GB and 128GB Blade X-gale SSDs have a thickness of just 2.2mm, while the 256GB capacity is slightly thicker.

"Delivering a product that enables superior user experience in a smaller footprint is the ultimate goal," noted Scott Nelson, vice president, Memory Business Unit, Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc. "The density of MLC NAND enables the creation of smaller form factor high density storage solutions, and Toshiba, as the technology leader for NAND storage solutions, will continue to innovate in this space."

The drives are available for sale to device manufacturers and bulk purchasers, meaning individual users will not be able to buy one direct from Toshiba.

Apple's newly redesigned MacBook Air comes with screen sizes of 11.6 inches and 13.3 inches. The smaller model can have up to 128GB of SSD storage, while the larger 13.3-inch MacBook Air can hold 256GB.

The availability of Toshiba's "blade-type SSD modules" to resellers and other component makers means users who need to replace or upgrade the solid state drive in their MacBook Air will have an easier time finding replacement parts.

The solid state drives allow the new MacBook Air models to offer instant-on capabilities when returning from sleep. The hardware on the 13-inch model is said to be comparable in terms of performance to Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro, thanks to the speedy SSD found in the MacBook Air.

The thin and light profile and instant-on capabilities of Apple's new MacBook Air models have earned praise for making the notebooks similar to the popular iPad. It is expected that many of the same features, including standard solid state drives, will be extended to new MacBooks in the future as well.
post #2 of 44
Hopefully this means that solid state drives will replace their failure prone counterparts sooner rather than later in the average mid range notebook.
post #3 of 44
BB_Sting, I'd say Apple's trying to push that line right here, and seem to have teamed up with Toshiba to produce the drives required to pull it off.

This isn't just good for the MacBook Air, or even all Apple notebooks. Its good for notebooks in general.
post #4 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by PG4G View Post

This isn't just good for the MacBook Air, or even all Apple notebooks. Its good for notebooks in general.

To save money, I suppose one can have 2 drives in a notebook: (1) a SS drive with only 32 GB would be rather cheap and critical stuff should be stored there; (2) a spinning drive to store massive data.
post #5 of 44
Excellent, some good tech to produce some thin notebooks meaning everyone that wants something fast and light doesn't have to go visit the fruit shop.
post #6 of 44
(2) 1TB drives would be sexy
post #7 of 44
I wonder if the X-gale will make it's way into 2.5" HDD enclosures. Seems like 1TB of affordable storage is almost here.

I just purchased a 240 GB 2.5" drive last night from OWC to put in my MBP 13" (latest model). It really touched the wallet to make the move but I am hoping for a nice return on responsiveness.
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post #8 of 44
I want to see this in the next entry-level MacBook, maybe drop the optical drive too.

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post #9 of 44
I'm talking (2) 1TB SSD drives. Already have a few 1TB 3.5 disks. 3.5 and 2.5 are pretty much the same to me (when comparing to SSD).
post #10 of 44
Why can't they stack these together and be announcing SSD drives with TB-type sizing?

These are basically just the same tech as in a thumb drive right? What exactly is the innovation here?

Stick them together and get rid of the optical drives for good.
post #11 of 44
This is great news. I would be a lot more likely to buy the 11" MBA if I could get a larger hard drive than the BTO options that Apple sells online.

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post #12 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by benice View Post

Why can't they stack these together and be announcing SSD drives with TB-type sizing?

These are basically just the same tech as in a thumb drive right? What exactly is the innovation here?

Stick them together and get rid of the optical drives for good.

How much money do you have? Obviously more than me!

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post #13 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post

How much money do you have? Obviously more than me!

Give it 2 years and we'll start seeing these drives available in larger formats, and more affordable. My guess is that in 3 years, you'll see 1TB SSD drives for a premium, still, but not so much so that you'll break the bank.
post #14 of 44
i bought a Crucial M225 for my MBP 13" model and I cannot believe how fast it is. imho, 256 GB for $380 seems very reasonable.

MBP $1100, SSD drive $380, total = $1480

my Air with a smaller cpu and less memory is slower and cost $1550.....

anyone looking for a used MBA?
post #15 of 44
I know the article said these are only for sale in bulk to resellers, but it'd still be nice to get a ballpark idea of what they'll eventually cost end users. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
post #16 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ruel24 View Post

Give it 2 years and we'll start seeing these drives available in larger formats, and more affordable. My guess is that in 3 years, you'll see 1TB SSD drives for a premium, still, but not so much so that you'll break the bank.

Oh, I agree 100%! But for now, they are still priced out of my budget.

Here is a 2.5" form-factor OCZ Vertex 2 SSD -- still not shipping yet, OBTW -- for £1,330.92/US$2,150 (or £1,132.70/US$1,830 excluding VAT): OCZ 480GB Vertex 2E SSD - Solid State Drive

I think we'll be waiting a while (and we'll be wishing for 5TB drives by then! )

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post #17 of 44
So the 256GB is thicker. It must be double-sided. That presumably answers the question of why it wasn't offered as an option on the 11"
post #18 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post

I think we'll be waiting a while (and we'll be wishing for 5TB drives by then! )

Thats the problem with the ever sliding If only they were requests.
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post #19 of 44
But Apple said the MacBook Air didn't use an SSD!
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post #20 of 44
As noted elsewhere, RunCore has been selling these mini-PCIe card SSDs for netbooks for a couple years. The difference is they are shorter and are pretty cheap for use in netbooks.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGreatBug View Post

But Apple said the MacBook Air didn't use an SSD!

Is that what Apple said? If, so did you really think Apple meant that Flash-based storage card isn’t a solid state drive/device? It seems to me that any such statement would be to differentiate it from the SSDs that are designed to mimic the look of a HDD

If I remember correctly, Jobs during the keynote, called it "solid state storage" and specifically stated that the SSD container was removed, with statements about it being smaller and 90%(?) lighter. I don’t recall any implication that you can’t call it an SSD if it doesn’t copy the form factor of a HDD.
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post #21 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by success View Post

(2) 1TB drives would be sexy

1 PB would be sexy.



By the way, no information about Sustained Write Speed? It is often 2 times slower than the maximum speed.
post #22 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by benice View Post

Why can't they stack these together and be announcing SSD drives with TB-type sizing?

These are basically just the same tech as in a thumb drive right? What exactly is the innovation here?

Stick them together and get rid of the optical drives for good.

1> You will probably balk at the price. Flash is not cheap at those sizes.
2> SSD != Thumb Drive.
3> This form factor is obviously designed by Apple. It is fully custom. No one introduces this on their own because they're not sure people will use/buy and pay extra.
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post #23 of 44
I picked one of the new MBA's up in PC world at the weekend and was impressed at how neat and tidy they are. However, it felt really fragile in your hands, and if i dare say it, cheap.

Never thought i'd ever say that about an Apple product as i'm a die hard fanman.

I'm sure they are fairly robust but anybody else get the same impressions?
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post #24 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mobility View Post

3> This form factor is obviously designed by Apple. It is fully custom. No one introduces this on their own because they're not sure people will use/buy and pay extra.

I don’t think anyone has used an SSD card of the length used in the new MBAs, but the idea is not new, as I stated in my post above. Again, RunCore’s crap SSD cards for cheap notebooks.

I doubt they are fully custom. They look to use a standard mini-PCIe connector. This may seem like a gimmie, but Apple has used connectors that are electrically identical but harwareally* dissimilar in the past. For example, the mini-PCIe-based AirPort Extreme cards from the PowerBook days.

On top of that, Toshiba has already announced these cards to be available on the market without Apple branding but using what looks to be the exact same part numbers. I believe there was some other party who announced such cards to be coming shortly. I would bet it’s only a matter of time before the next run of MBA copycats jump on these cards and we start seeing a great many of these on the market.

The bottom line: Once the need to retain the HDD’s form factor is removed then a new world of possibilities opens up. Same goes for the ODD.


* Yeah, I know it’s not a ‘real’ word.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Underhill View Post

I picked one of the new MBA's up in PC world at the weekend and was impressed at how neat and tidy they are. However, it felt really fragile in your hands, and if i dare say it, cheap.

Never thought i'd ever say that about an Apple product as i'm a die hard fanman.

I'm sure they are fairly robust but anybody else get the same impressions?

I got the opposite impression. The casing was rigid for it’s weight. Even the lid was considerably more rigid feeling now that it’s milled.
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post #25 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Underhill View Post

I picked one of the new MBA's up in PC world at the weekend and was impressed at how neat and tidy they are. However, it felt really fragile in your hands, and if i dare say it, cheap.

Never thought i'd ever say that about an Apple product as i'm a die hard fanman.

I'm sure they are fairly robust but anybody else get the same impressions?

Really? I had the opposite reaction: I was completely shocked at how durable it felt picking it up, in complete contrasts to how I thought it would be when I first looked at it.

I also would never have considered the 11" version, that is until I first started typing on it.

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post #26 of 44
For those MBA buyers, Monoprice has a USB-A 2.0 to Ethernet adapter for under $5.

http://twitter.com/monoprice/status/1696760904814592
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post #27 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post

Really? I had the opposite reaction: I was completely shocked at how durable it felt picking it up, in complete contrasts to how I thought it would be when I first looked at it.

I also would never have considered the 11" version, that is until I first started typing on it.

Thanks for the feedback. I must have big hands

Maybe cheap wasn't the right word. Cheaper feel than say my MBP or iPad. Not cheap as in nasty PC notebook cheap.

Still felt different from usual Apple product. Keyboard perhaps? Still, first impressions count I guess.

I'll have to go back this weekend and have another go. Still very nice bit of kit.
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post #28 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post

So the 256GB is thicker. It must be double-sided. That presumably answers the question of why it wasn't offered as an option on the 11"

Maybe. Apple often doesn't offer the highest option on lessor machines, but they can take them if third parties make them. It may be possible here. It would be nice, but it might simply be too expensive from Apple's point of view.

It's $200 more for the extra 64GB for the 11.6" model, and $300 more in going from 128 to 256 in the 13".
post #29 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

For those MBA buyers, Monoprice has a USB-A 2.0 to Ethernet adapter for under $5.

http://twitter.com/monoprice/status/1696760904814592

For those of us whose employers block social networking sites, here's the direct link:

http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?p_id=6150

Does anyone know for sure if this works with Macs?
post #30 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Maybe. Apple often doesn't offer the highest option on lessor machines, but they can take them if third parties make them. It may be possible here. It would be nice, but it might simply be too expensive from Apple's point of view.

There is some concern whether the slightly thicker 256GB SSD card will fit inside the 11" MBA.

Regardless, it wouldn't be the first time the prudent choice would be to buy the stock Apple MacBook, then do the upgrade yourself.

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post #31 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post

I was completely shocked at how durable it felt picking it up ...

I felt the same. All MBPs (13,15,17) feel just as durable. In comparison, the 13" MB feel cheap ... although it used to feel reasonably good before
post #32 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by jj.yuan View Post

I felt the same. All MBPs (13,15,17) feel just as durable. In comparison, the 13" MB feel cheap ... although it used to feel reasonably good before

I loved my BlackBook, right up until they came out with the unibody MBPs.

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post #33 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I dont think anyone has used an SSD card of the length used in the new MBAs, but the idea is not new, as I stated in my post above. Again, RunCores crap SSD cards for cheap notebooks.

I doubt they are fully custom. They look to use a standard mini-PCIe connector. This may seem like a gimmie, but Apple has used connectors that are electrically identical but harwareally* dissimilar in the past. For example, the mini-PCIe-based AirPort Extreme cards from the PowerBook days.

On top of that, Toshiba has already announced these cards to be available on the market without Apple branding but using what looks to be the exact same part numbers. I believe there was some other party who announced such cards to be coming shortly. I would bet its only a matter of time before the next run of MBA copycats jump on these cards and we start seeing a great many of these on the market.

I believe that the SSD cards lack the hardware to perform block management and wear leveling found in some SSD's like OWC's. Apple's present OS still does not have TRIM and not sure if it will appear in later 10.6 updates or in Lion (10.7). If Apple adds TRIM hope that they will make it backward compatible with older SSD's that they offered as an option in the ubMBP's.
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post #34 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post

There is some concern whether the slightly thicker 256GB SSD card will fit inside the 11" MBA.

Regardless, it wouldn't be the first time the prudent choice would be to buy the stock Apple MacBook, then do the upgrade yourself.

There's concern from two people posting here, but that doesn't mean it's true. We don't know.
post #35 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by FineTunes View Post

I believe that the SSD cards lack the hardware to perform block management and wear leveling found in some SSD's like OWC's.

What makes you think that? The Toshiba controller found on these is said to be similar to the Sandforce.
post #36 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by FineTunes View Post

I believe that the SSD cards lack the hardware to perform block management and wear leveling found in some SSD's like OWC's. Apple's present OS still does not have TRIM and not sure if it will appear in later 10.6 updates or in Lion (10.7). If Apple adds TRIM hope that they will make it backward compatible with older SSD's that they offered as an option in the ubMBP's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

What makes you think that? The Toshiba controller found on these is said to be similar to the Sandforce.

To add what Melgross stated, AnandTech reported that the Toshiba controllers were great in handling garbage collection, which may be why Apple uses them.


PS: In System Profile, these cards show up under Serial-ATA as an Apple SSD.
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post #37 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Maybe. Apple often doesn't offer the highest option on lessor machines, but they can take them if third parties make them. It may be possible here. It would be nice, but it might simply be too expensive from Apple's point of view.

It's $200 more for the extra 64GB for the 11.6" model, and $300 more in going from 128 to 256 in the 13".

Ultimately we'll have to wait and see until someone buys one and tries it.
post #38 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

To add what Melgross stated, AnandTech reported that the Toshiba controllers were great in handling garbage collection, which may be why Apple uses them.

The Toshiba controller Apple picked is good at garbage collection in the absence of TRIM. TRIM would be preferable, but OS X doesn't support it yet.

That may be why Apple is using this Toshiba controller.
post #39 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post

Ultimately we'll have to wait and see until someone buys one and tries it.

Of course, unless OWC or some other company offers these. There is one small company from Asia that is supposed to be offering these, but who knows with them?
post #40 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post

The Toshiba controller Apple picked is good at garbage collection in the absence of TRIM. TRIM would be preferable, but OS X doesn't support it yet.

That may be why Apple is using this Toshiba controller.

That's the same reason why Sandforces' (expensive) controllers are being used; you don't need TRIM as much (some say not at all). And these drives are pretty fast. Not the fastest, but closer to the fastest than to the slowest.
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