Originally Posted by Tallest Skil
What about integrated storage?
Drop an 8GB NAND chip on the logic board and have the OS on there. I've been saying this for years, and 8GB chips are certainly cheap enough to do this now. The Apple TV 3 has an 8GB chip in it, as did the 2, and the total cost for those is way below $100. Keep the backup partition on the spinning or SSD media for if something goes wrong with the running OS.
Faster load times from sleep and cold boot and no space taken up by the OS on the storage media. Win-win.
A single NAND chip isn't very fast and 8GB doesn't give much room for wear-levelling. Storage benchmarks of the iOS NAND (will be the same as the ATV) show at best 48MB/s reads and 16MB/s writes:
This works fine in iOS devices as you don't really do much writing (consumption = read, creation = write and no VM).
It would be ok as a dedicated recovery partition but to get SSD speeds, they need to use lots of NAND chips in parallel. You can even see the mainstream SSDs increase performance for larger capacity drives:
128GB M4 = 175MB/s write
256GB M4 = 260MB/s write
Samsung has a table on this page showing 64GB = 160MB/s write, 128GB = 320MB/s write, 256/512GB = 400MB/s write:
Also bear in mind the Windows partition should really go on the boot drive too so I'd say no less than 64GB but again, splitting it evenly doesn't leave much room for wear-levelling. It's not a good idea to fill up the storage on any drive or you can really impact write speeds.
Given that retail SSD is $1 per GB, the cost to Apple will be lower, maybe around 70-80c per GB. Their margins on the Mini will likely be $150-200 on a $600 machine. They could manage a 64GB and just lower their margins by $50 but they don't usually do that.
The only thing they can realistically do is remove the hard drives from the machines and then charge the customer for them as BTO. So they'd ship 64-128GB Minis and then you choose the hard drive setup you want. I think it would work well for the Mini Server as you get the high IOPs from the SSD and you can have two HDDs in RAID1 for redundant storage. If one of your HDDs fails, the Mini keeps going.
I think the Air will bump up the entry level to 128GB and 13" to 256GB. Any models above that, it's easy for them to use SSD boot drives. The great thing about SSD blades is that in the iMac, they can fit easily in the RAM slot area. This reduces wear on the hard drive and even in the event of a boot storage failure, a repair is as simple as taking the blade into a store. Ideally the main drive wouldn't be stuck in the middle of the machine but the SSD design would be much better.