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Hardware Features on Apple x86

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
It seems as though Apple is looking to add at least two hardware performance features not found on other Intel based machines.

1. Media FPGA / DSP co-processor to perform encoding / decoding operations (ie. H.264) updatable with new firmware.

2. Solid state storage for OS. A large high speed flash drive may be built into all Mactel machines. This drive would be large enough to house the OS and would perform as well if not better than DDR2 or possibly DDR3. By giving the OS a deticated storage drive in solid state, it will not only speed up it's operation, it may allow for instant booting as there will be little that needs to be loaded into RAM.
post #2 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by ngmapple
It seems as though Apple is looking to add at least two hardware performance features not found on other Intel based machines.

It does?

Sources please.
post #3 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by ngmapple
It seems as though Apple is looking to add at least two hardware performance features not found on other Intel based machines.

1. Media FPGA / DSP co-processor to perform encoding / decoding operations (ie. H.264) updatable with new firmware.


There is certainly the potential for vastly improved Media processing by taking this route. Further if the facility is open to developers some really interesting non Media processing applications open up.

The problem is that Apple didn't have a lot of success in the past with co-processor or DSP's. For this to really work well the implementation would have to be universal across all computer lines. That means a significant expense for iBooks and Minis, not to mention the power usage.
Quote:
2. Solid state storage for OS. A large high speed flash drive may be built into all Mactel machines. This drive would be large enough to house the OS and would perform as well if not better than DDR2 or possibly DDR3. By giving the OS a deticated storage drive in solid state, it will not only speed up it's operation, it may allow for instant booting as there will be little that needs to be loaded into RAM.

I think you might be talking about research that Intel has done here that CACHE's important code in flash for quicker boot ups. Though I suppose one could put stuff that is normally read only into a flash disk. The problem is OS/X isn't exactly small so some sort of caching arraingment seems to be more likely. I just can't see Apple adding enough flash to store all of OS/X.

Quote:

Thanks
Dave
post #4 of 27
I have heard similar stories from some friends in California, although nothing as concrete. Apparently, Apple wants something more than Mac OS X to differentiate itself from the sexy hardware of the likes of Sony and Levono.

A flash drive may make economic sense because increased NAND buying power means lowering iPod costs simutaneously.
post #5 of 27
As others have said, sources, please.

Quote:
Originally posted by ngmapple
2. Solid state storage for OS. A large high speed flash drive may be built into all Mactel machines. This drive would be large enough to house the OS and would perform as well if not better than DDR2 or possibly DDR3. By giving the OS a deticated storage drive in solid state, it will not only speed up it's operation, it may allow for instant booting as there will be little that needs to be loaded into RAM. [/B]

This does not make sense. Flash drives are slower than hard disks, after the hard disk has spun up. Having a flash drive will at most save you the 2-4 seconds it takes a hard disk to spin up.
post #6 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by synp
As others have said, sources, please.



This does not make sense. Flash drives are slower than hard disks, after the hard disk has spun up. Having a flash drive will at most save you the 2-4 seconds it takes a hard disk to spin up.

He said solid state and that doesn't necessarily mean flash. It could be normal DDR-RAM or that elusive M-RAM. In fact, most applications of solid state drives, like the ones quantum uses, are using SDRAM with a battery.
post #7 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by Outsider
...most applications of solid state drives, like the ones quantum uses, are using SDRAM with a battery.

...interesting but I would never trust that last solution for storing OS-critical parts.
post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by ngmapple
1. Media FPGA / DSP co-processor to perform encoding / decoding operations (ie. H.264) updatable with new firmware.

Maybe the should use a Cell processor.
Providing grist for the rumour mill since 2001.
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post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by Programmer
Maybe the should use a Cell processor.

Yields will be too low, all Cell must go to game boxes.
IBM's Yields cause woe to Microsoft
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Don't get me wrong, I like the flat panel iMac, actually own an iMac, and I like the Mac mini, but...........
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just waiting to be included in one of Apple's target markets.
Don't get me wrong, I like the flat panel iMac, actually own an iMac, and I like the Mac mini, but...........
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post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by kim kap sol
...interesting but I would never trust that last solution for storing OS-critical parts.

Neither would I and that's why this rumor is
post #11 of 27
How about 4GB flash RAM (or a newer faster variety) just for spotlight indexes and smart folders etc?

In fact while I'm looking at the remote on the new iMac, why not add a couple of GB ram into that, and create a Shuffle.

Seems like a cool thing to do, supply a 2GB Shuffle/Remote/Memory stick with every iMac.
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post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 
Just to follow up a little bit, I think Samsung now has 16GB flash chips, and I believe Hynix now offers or plans to offer near term flash as fast as DDR2 and later DDR3. Cost of NAND flash continues to fall. Flash however isn't the only option, there are other semi-volatile options such as disk on chip, although I'm not sure how high the performance is with Disk on Chip.

In terms of the FPGA/DSP co-proc. I would anticipate Apple making that a standard feature in all macs (ibooks and mini's included). This would increase the volume deals on supplies as well as make software / OS development easier. Additionally this will be much needed to make the term "Mac hardware" still mean something after the Intel transition.
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by rickag
Yields will be too low, all Cell must go to game boxes.
IBM's Yields cause woe to Microsoft

Who said that it was IBM that couldn't deliver? Ballmer didn't.. It can just as well be ATI and that would be very consistent with their inability to ramp production of their newer high end GPUs.
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by philbot
How about 4GB flash RAM (or a newer faster variety) just for spotlight indexes and smart folders etc?

In fact while I'm looking at the remote on the new iMac, why not add a couple of GB ram into that, and create a Shuffle.

Seems like a cool thing to do, supply a 2GB Shuffle/Remote/Memory stick with every iMac.

Then somebody walks off with your remote and you no longer have it for what you need it for. Why not just use 2 separate devices like you should?

Meanwhile people need to get over flash. It's great for CE but it's next to worthless for computers unless you want very little power draw or very small size and the cost is lack of capacity, very high costs or slow speeds. That's universal for about every single memory offering currently out there. There is nothing on the short term horizon to replace HDs.
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post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by wizard69
There is certainly the potential for vastly improved Media processing by taking this route. Further if the facility is open to developers some really interesting non Media processing applications open up.

The problem is that Apple didn't have a lot of success in the past with co-processor or DSP's. For this to really work well the implementation would have to be universal across all computer lines. That means a significant expense for iBooks and Minis, not to mention the power usage.

Apple can succeed now because of the Core Video/Image/Sound technologies. As long as Apple provide Core drivers for whichever DSP they ship, and applications write to the Core libraries it doesn't matter how many different DSP's Apple provides.

The low end machines wouldn't have a DSP, only the video card. For the higher end machines then they could provide a DSP, and Core drivers to run it.

I don't think Apple will provide a DSP, video cards are generally better, but they could.
post #16 of 27
The only sensible implementation of flash memory as computer mass storage is Samsung's concept of laptop HDs with (~1GB) flash buffer. Basically the HD stay's spun down until such time the flash needs to write it's contents out and then only spins up for a brief time. This saves a lot of power and makes for a dead silent laptop as well. It is invisible to the end user and even the OS, it plugs in like any other Serial ATA laptop drive.

linky

Hopefully this is what the rumors point to. Other than that, I don't see flash as mass storage in OSX any time soon.

As for greatly improving OSX boot times, a) how often do you reboot your Mac and b) is the boot up time painfully long?

For me, the answers are "hardly ever" and "no."
post #17 of 27
Flash drives take up too much room. Any one that gives meaningful storage are currently the size of a 5 and 1/2" drive bay or a fullsize PCI card. Do you see anyone squeezing THAT into a laptop? I agree with whoever said above, people need to get over flash. That hard disk with 1gb buffer sounds like a pretty solid concept though. You would need enough main memory though, or you would overflow into the page file too often for it to be terribly usefull
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I DONT trust your haircut.

MBP 13"/22" 2.26ghz/2gb/160gb/7400M.
Windows 7 24"/2.00ghz/2.5gb/250gb/9800GT.
Ubuntu 10.04 Dell Latitude D620.
Xbox 360 Projector
WHS 2.5tb.
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post #18 of 27
Um, we're not talking about 80 GB or beyond flash drives, but about something in the area of 4-10 GB, as a fast cache for a 'hybrid' hard drive. Ever seen an iPod nano? The thing in there is such a piece of 4 GB flash memory.
post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by Chucker
Um, we're not talking about 80 GB or beyond flash drives, but about something in the area of 4-10 GB, as a fast cache for a 'hybrid' hard drive. Ever seen an iPod nano? The thing in there is such a piece of 4 GB flash memory.


Neither am I, sorry, i missaid above - I was refering to RAM drives, as they are faster. THe PCI one, manufactured by gigabyte maxes out at 8gb of storage - the other one, cant remeber who buy, was on tomshardware recently, maxes out at 16. Sorry for any confusion
I DONT trust your haircut.

MBP 13"/22" 2.26ghz/2gb/160gb/7400M.
Windows 7 24"/2.00ghz/2.5gb/250gb/9800GT.
Ubuntu 10.04 Dell Latitude D620.
Xbox 360 Projector
WHS 2.5tb.
Reply
I DONT trust your haircut.

MBP 13"/22" 2.26ghz/2gb/160gb/7400M.
Windows 7 24"/2.00ghz/2.5gb/250gb/9800GT.
Ubuntu 10.04 Dell Latitude D620.
Xbox 360 Projector
WHS 2.5tb.
Reply
post #20 of 27
Actually i can confirm this as well. I love it when people on the rumors forum ask for sources, what kinda of idiot with credible information would reveal his source? You are on a rumors message board. If you want sources go read the boring normal news...

The Intel "instant-on" technology already incorporates using 2gb flash chips inside of the normal laptops to store content in the solid state, using a version of NAND based memory.

those of you who think flash, and solid state memory devices have limited read/write cycles are still thinking about drives from 3 years ago.

Current NAND technology, and even better options, offer 100x faster speed than hard disk performance (especially 2.5drives), and have a lifecycle far exceeding anything offered by your hard drive.

For example, the NAND memory in the iPod Nano, would require constant writing for 24 years of read/write to the same spot on the memory before it was even considered possible for it to fail. Compare that to any hard disk that has a 5 year warranty...

Carbon Nanotube storage is going to be available in the fall of 2006 as well that blows currently advanced solid state memory out of the water.

Solid state memory isn't what it used to be. Sure that cheepo 1gb flash usb key drive you bought probably does infact have limited life, but the stuff these companies are planning to use is much, much more advanced.

Apple will begin using solid state memory solutions in laptops by the end of 2006, and hopefully will ship laptops before march that use small flash memory inside to take advantage of intel's "instant-on" technology.
post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by webmail
Actually i can confirm this as well. I love it when people on the rumors forum ask for sources, what kinda of idiot with credible information would reveal his source? You are on a rumors message board. If you want sources go read the boring normal news...

The thread starter was making his story sound like it was a fact. It is pure conjecture, speculation, rumor. Make it sound as such.
post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by philbot
How about 4GB flash RAM (or a newer faster variety) just for spotlight indexes and smart folders etc?

In fact while I'm looking at the remote on the new iMac, why not add a couple of GB ram into that, and create a Shuffle.

Seems like a cool thing to do, supply a 2GB Shuffle/Remote/Memory stick with every iMac.

If Front Row gets included in iLife '06 then it would not surprise me if the new iPod Shuffles will be able to be used as a remote.
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by Chucker
The thread starter was making his story sound like it was a fact. It is pure conjecture, speculation, rumor. Make it sound as such.

Exactly. In fact, I like to make a distinction between rumors, which ostensibly come from a leak and thus are something someone believes to be actual fact - and speculation, which is something someone acknowledges he/she just made up.

I have no problem at all with speculation, as long as it is identified as such. Speculating in various areas sometimes brings out great ideas, and/or identifies what's most probable.

The OP says "It seems as though Apple is looking..." which implies some actual information and/or leak is involved - hence, we reasonably ask for sources.
post #24 of 27
I was with you up until about here...

Quote:
Originally posted by webmail
Carbon Nanotube storage is going to be available in the fall of 2006 as well that blows currently advanced solid state memory out of the water.

Do you have more information about this? an article or whatever? My understanding of nanotubes is there were still major production hurdles re growing/placing them in an orderly way. This seems like a generous estimate as for release.

Oh, and re the mention of Samsung and 16GB flash chips. Nope. They announced the coming of 32Gb (note caps, that's 4GB), but I don't believe they will be available until next year. Likely you were refering to 16Gb chips (2GB).

Not that many people that write articles about such things are always careful about actually specificying the difference between bits and bytes.
post #25 of 27
YEah I was a little lost with those carbon nanotube things as well - hook us up with a source. But remember always takes time for these things to be adequenly tested and filter down into new computers, my guess is though the technology may be complete in 2006 (which I doubt), it wouldnt come to computers till 2008-2010.
I DONT trust your haircut.

MBP 13"/22" 2.26ghz/2gb/160gb/7400M.
Windows 7 24"/2.00ghz/2.5gb/250gb/9800GT.
Ubuntu 10.04 Dell Latitude D620.
Xbox 360 Projector
WHS 2.5tb.
Reply
I DONT trust your haircut.

MBP 13"/22" 2.26ghz/2gb/160gb/7400M.
Windows 7 24"/2.00ghz/2.5gb/250gb/9800GT.
Ubuntu 10.04 Dell Latitude D620.
Xbox 360 Projector
WHS 2.5tb.
Reply
post #26 of 27
OS drives on flash make sense, but I would still be concerned about the number of writes OS X makes over time.

There are a lot of specialized appliances shipping OS on flash for the sort of plug and play instant appliance application. There are in storage, security, enterprise applications and more.

We are very far away from having primary storage for notebooks on flash. flash is still pretty expensive in the high capacities necessary for computers these days.
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by Chucker
It does?

Sources please.

I guess it depends on what one defines as 'features' and 'performance' - if the started using EFI, which results in lower boot up times, would that be considered a 'feature no found in other Intel based machines'?

Apple is going to be the show case of Intel technology - so it will be interesting to see what Intel has on the cards, personally, I don't think it'll be radical, but knowing Steve, he'll hype it as if it were the solution to the worlds problems.
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