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New Apple laptop to feature Intel Robson cache technology?

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
Although Intel only demonstrated its Robson cache technology in the fourth quarter of last year, DigiTimes is citing sources who claim that Apple Computer will launch a laptop in the middle of January that utilizes the NAND flash based cache memory technology.

The publication, which has been less than accurate in its predictions of future Apple hardware over the last couple of years, said sources did not say which line of Apple notebooks would implement the technology.

Robson cache technology, which Intel demonstrated during the Intel Developer Forum Taipei this past October, relies on NAND flash instead of a traditional hard disk drive (HDD) for starting up a computer or launching frequently used applications. Some of the benefits of the technology are speedier computer boot time and improve battery life.

Industry observers told DigiTimes that there are three possible ways Apple can deploy Robson technology in its notebook, the most convenient of which would be to equip the device with a NAND flash disk on module (DOM) that would plug into an ATA slot.

"Another method would be a combination memory solution, whereby Robson is deployed on the HDD," according to the publication. "HDD makers would provide an addition density area that would be assigned to NAND flash."

The last solution, which may also the most direct solution, is to embedded the Robson-flash into a chipset or create an additional slot on the motherboard for such memory, DigiTimes said.

Sources have previously told AppleInsider to expect the first Intel-based Macs at next week's Macworld Expo in San Francisco, which may include the first 15-inch Intel PowerBook.
post #2 of 42
I'll see it when I believe it.

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

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post #3 of 42
Hard to imagine if the benefits would be worth the additional cost, especially considering most Mac users just put their Macs to sleep anyhow, thus negating boot times entirely already. And launching an Application is generally also a one-time thing per session. As someone mentioned in another thread, for the cost of the NAND chips why not just make more RAM standard?

Unless of course the use of the NAND chip is for a device that doesn't have a Hard Drive at all, like a Media Center Hub that streams all content from other locations.
post #4 of 42
We all know how accurate DigiTimes has been...

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post #5 of 42
I wish. but from a development pont of view, I don't see why or how they would take up 2 new technologies (new to them) at the same time, too many thing can go wrong....
post #6 of 42
I can see the partial substitution option used for most-read files, but not a complete switch is a way off.

This isn't like flash memory replacing the 1" drives, those were very expensive for their storage anyway, so the low relative cost difference made it a logical switch for portable audio players.

Flash is still way too expensive to be useful for laptop mass storage unless you keep a very small OS and don't carry much data. I think it needs to cost 5% or less of it is now to be able to be anywhere near competing. At retail, laptop hard drives are pretty close to $1/GB now, flash is pretty close to $40/GB.
post #7 of 42
This IS going to happen. I just depends on whether it will be Apple or someone else.

It's not implausable. This is one of those things that Intel is pushing that Apple is positioned to use.

January might be early. But I wouldn't be surprised to see it by the middle of the year.

About pricing, they are only talking MB's not GB's. It shouldn't cost that much.
post #8 of 42
I'll only say that the Robson thing is one of the keys to what I've been talking about if you've been following my posts on another thread. The concept is simple, implementation not difficult.

This is just too freakin' good! My brain's about to leap outta my skull!

Prepare to be amazed. Floored would be more like it. Save up your money for something cool. Very cool!

I know, easier said than done. Just got my natural gas bill. Yow! Time to double up on the black turtlenecks.
post #9 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by Rolo
I'll only say that the Robson thing is one of the keys to what I've been talking about if you've been following my posts on another thread. The concept is simple, implementation not difficult.

This is just too freakin' good! My brain's about to leap outta my skull!

Prepare to be amazed. Floored would be more like it. Save up your money for something cool. Very cool!

I know, easier said than done. Just got my natural gas bill. Yow! Time to double up on the black turtlenecks.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Still waiting for that ThinkSecret update...
post #10 of 42
This would be a great way to differentiate the iBooks and Powerbooks, seeing as they're going to have to have close to the same level of CPU's inside.
post #11 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by JeffDM
At retail, laptop hard drives are pretty close to $1/GB now, flash is pretty close to $40/GB.

With LaCie's Carte Orange, it's $18.75/GB on the 8GB model, if it is, in fact, a flash-based device. I have the silly thing and I can't tell if it is. There is no drive noise, and it doesn't even get room temp.

http://www.lacie.com/products/product.htm?pid=10268
post #12 of 42
You mean like the following, only substituting "Windows Vista" with "Macintosh":

External memory devices

Adding system memory (RAM) is often the best way to improve your PC's performance. More memory means more applications are ready to run without accessing the hard drive. However, upgrading memory is not always easy. You must learn what type of memory you need, purchase the memory, and open your computer to install the memorywhich sometimes can invalidate your support agreement. Also, some machines have limited memory expansion capabilities, preventing you from adding RAM even if you are willing to do so.

Windows Vista introduces a new concept in adding memory to a system. USB flash drives can be used as External Memory Devices (EMDs) to extend system memory and improve performance without opening the box. Your computer is able to access memory from an EMD device much more quickly than it can access data on the hard drive, boosting system performance. When combined with SuperFetch technology, this can help drive impressive improvement in system responsiveness.

EMD technology is both reliable and secure. You can remove an EMD at any time without any loss of data or negative impact to the system; however, if you remove the EMD, your performance returns to the level you experienced without the device. Wear on the USB drive is not an issue when using it as an EMD. A unique algorithm optimizes wear patterns, so that a USB device can run as an EMD for many years, even when heavily used. Finally, data on the EMD is encrypted to help prevent inappropriate access to data when the device is removed.

Hybrid Hard Drive

A Hybrid Hard Drive is a new type of hard drive with an integrated non-volatile flash memory buffer. If your machine is equipped with a Hybrid Hard Drive, Windows Vista takes advantage of this hardware to boot, hibernate, and resume use more quickly. Hybrid Hard Drive technology can also improve system reliability and battery life.

The hybrid drive is intended for mobile PCs running Windows Vista. Your data is written to the flash memory, which saves work for the mechanical hard drivesaving you battery power. The hybrid drive helps Windows Vista resume use faster from Sleep because data can be restored from flash memory faster than from the mechanical hard drive. And since the mechanical hard drive is not working when you are in Sleep state with the Hybrid Hard Drive, you have less risk of hardware problems with the hard drive when you're on the move. Windows Vista takes advantage of Hybrid Hard Drives to save battery life, resume use faster from hibernation, and improve reliability.
post #13 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by macslut
You mean like the following, only substituting "Windows Vista" with "Macintosh":

External memory devices

Adding system memory (RAM) is often the best way to improve your PC's performance. More memory means more applications are ready to run without accessing the hard drive. However, upgrading memory is not always easy. You must learn what type of memory you need, purchase the memory, and open your computer to install the memorywhich sometimes can invalidate your support agreement. Also, some machines have limited memory expansion capabilities, preventing you from adding RAM even if you are willing to do so.

Windows Vista introduces a new concept in adding memory to a system. USB flash drives can be used as External Memory Devices (EMDs) to extend system memory and improve performance without opening the box. Your computer is able to access memory from an EMD device much more quickly than it can access data on the hard drive, boosting system performance. When combined with SuperFetch technology, this can help drive impressive improvement in system responsiveness.

EMD technology is both reliable and secure. You can remove an EMD at any time without any loss of data or negative impact to the system; however, if you remove the EMD, your performance returns to the level you experienced without the device. Wear on the USB drive is not an issue when using it as an EMD. A unique algorithm optimizes wear patterns, so that a USB device can run as an EMD for many years, even when heavily used. Finally, data on the EMD is encrypted to help prevent inappropriate access to data when the device is removed.

Hybrid Hard Drive

A Hybrid Hard Drive is a new type of hard drive with an integrated non-volatile flash memory buffer. If your machine is equipped with a Hybrid Hard Drive, Windows Vista takes advantage of this hardware to boot, hibernate, and resume use more quickly. Hybrid Hard Drive technology can also improve system reliability and battery life.

The hybrid drive is intended for mobile PCs running Windows Vista. Your data is written to the flash memory, which saves work for the mechanical hard drivesaving you battery power. The hybrid drive helps Windows Vista resume use faster from Sleep because data can be restored from flash memory faster than from the mechanical hard drive. And since the mechanical hard drive is not working when you are in Sleep state with the Hybrid Hard Drive, you have less risk of hardware problems with the hard drive when you're on the move. Windows Vista takes advantage of Hybrid Hard Drives to save battery life, resume use faster from hibernation, and improve reliability.

Well, yeah.
post #14 of 42
Wasn't there discussion a while back about a Mini for the living room, and a patent for streaming video "that never touches the hard drive"?

Does NAND flash have any value there?
post #15 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by melgross
This IS going to happen. I just depends on whether it will be Apple or someone else.

....

I quite agree. This has been going to happen by Apple or someone else for nearly 30 years.
post #16 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by Rolo
I'll only say that the Robson thing is one of the keys to what I've been talking about if you've been following my posts on another thread. The concept is simple, implementation not difficult.

This is just too freakin' good! My brain's about to leap outta my skull!

Prepare to be amazed. Floored would be more like it. Save up your money for something cool. Very cool!

I know, easier said than done. Just got my natural gas bill. Yow! Time to double up on the black turtlenecks.

Yeah, conveniently enough, you were so vague in that other thread that you could claim that any new technology was what you were talking about. If you're going to spread completely fabricated rumors then you really need to work on your sell. It's too vague to be believable.
post #17 of 42
The LaCie Carte Orange looks like a miniature hard drive device to me, 6mm thick and no noise to speak of ... remind anyone of an iPod?

I for one am praying for the move away from platter drives. They fail too much. They break first on impact. They age. And they suffer from extreme cold and extreme heat way before the other components of a computer do. All this is simply because they have moving parts! Get those the hell out of my computer! I want it all solid state, with wi-max for the really big stuff.

Apple are so much going to be at the vanguard of the switch from HDD. Their laptops and of course iPods are the first place it's going to happen. The living room PVR Mac won't be able to record for itself without a hefty standard hard drive for the time being, and the desktops will take a while to move in general. But NAND is getting there. I'd love to see the Xserve complete this move before the decade is out!! But I'll settle for the laptops first.
post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by Unfiltered
With LaCie's Carte Orange, it's $18.75/GB on the 8GB model, if it is, in fact, a flash-based device. I have the silly thing and I can't tell if it is. There is no drive noise, and it doesn't even get room temp.

http://www.lacie.com/products/product.htm?pid=10268

That's actually pretty neat, I didn't expect to see that, but it's not clear exactly what it uses. I don't see a latency rating that would suggest a Microdrive type or a write cycle rating that would suggest a flash type device. The thickness is consistent with CF II sized devices, thick enough to house and protect a CFII drive if that is what is in it.
post #19 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Me
I quite agree. This has been going to happen by Apple or someone else for nearly 30 years.

That's cute, but not relevent.
post #20 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by fuyutsuki
The LaCie Carte Orange looks like a miniature hard drive device to me, 6mm thick and no noise to speak of ... remind anyone of an iPod?

I for one am praying for the move away from platter drives. They fail too much. They break first on impact. They age. And they suffer from extreme cold and extreme heat way before the other components of a computer do. All this is simply because they have moving parts! Get those the hell out of my computer! I want it all solid state, with wi-max for the really big stuff.

Apple are so much going to be at the vanguard of the switch from HDD. Their laptops and of course iPods are the first place it's going to happen. The living room PVR Mac won't be able to record for itself without a hefty standard hard drive for the time being, and the desktops will take a while to move in general. But NAND is getting there. I'd love to see the Xserve complete this move before the decade is out!! But I'll settle for the laptops first.

The first problem is that Flash, any kind, has a limited number of times it can be written to. It's one thing to use it for a camera, or even a music player, but as a replacement for a HD? Right now, that would be pushing it. To store a desktop of computer state is fine.

The other problem is that the money adds up pretty quick. A 10 GB drive sounds neat. But when you're comparing it to a 500GB drive, it doesn't seem so neat anymore. The price gets out of hand pretty quickly.

$18.75 per GB (if correct) looks good. Cut the price in four=$4.75,for volume, and multiply by 500. That gives us $2370.00. That's a bit rich for most people.

As the price comes down, so does that of HD's. There will be a severe price premium for a long time to come. This hasn't been the first time that HD's were predicted to leave the scene because of some new technology.

Anyone remember bubble memory?
post #21 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by JeffDM
That's actually pretty neat, I didn't expect to see that, but it's not clear exactly what it uses. I don't see a latency rating that would suggest a Microdrive type or a write cycle rating that would suggest a flash type device. The thickness is consistent with CF II sized devices, thick enough to house and protect a CFII drive if that is what is in it.

Flash is also slow compared to HD's. I know that it doesn't sound right, it being solid state, and all. But it is.

Look at the fastest NAND out there. SLOW!

Remember how they rate the memory? By the number of times it is faster that a 1 speed CD reader. 1 speed = 150KB/S.

The fastest flash out there now is 120 speed, for medium size chips. That's 18MB/S.

As I said, slow.

DRAM is MUCH faster. So are HD's. That's why we won't see NAND replace either RAM or HD's anytime soon if performance is an issue.
post #22 of 42
PIO mode 4 is only 16.7 MB/s. If a BIOS starts up using this mode, then flash would be competitive.
post #23 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by heaven or las vegas
PIO mode 4 is only 16.7 MB/s. If a BIOS starts up using this mode, then flash would be competitive.

Right, that's basically what I said. And that's what they're talking about using it for.

But the rest of the speculation is just off center.
post #24 of 42
Mac OS X uses files to swap memory... slow
Linux and other OSes use a dedicated partition... faster

NAND flash memory could be useful to use as a primary swap location. This would add another step in memory hierarchy, somehow : CPU registers << L1 cache << L2 cache << (L3 cache) << RAM << NAND swap << Hard drive swap
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Basically everything goes round. We're 80% dinosaur.
-- Alex James
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post #25 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by melgross
Anyone remember bubble memory?

The thing that killed bubble memory was that access was sequential, not random. So it worked like a tape drive. If you wanted the last byte in bubble RAM, you had to traverse through every single byte to get to the last one.
post #26 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by PBG4 Dude
The thing that killed bubble memory was that access was sequential, not random. So it worked like a tape drive. If you wanted the last byte in bubble RAM, you had to traverse through every single byte to get to the last one.

The thing that killed it was that HD's, which were thought at the time to be reaching their maximum capacity and speeds, suddenly took off in both areas.

Bubble memory which had been thought to offer much larger capacity/price ratio's were left in the dust, as they hadn't come to market yet.

Flash is also sequential. That's one of the reasons why it's slow.

They had worked out many of the access problems with bubble, but it didn't matter by then. It also didn't have the read/write limitations that Flash has. Actually, it's longitivity was much better than magnetic technology, with an almost infinite life, and no degradation of stored information for many years.
post #27 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by macslut
If your machine is equipped with a Hybrid Hard Drive, Windows Vista takes advantage of this hardware to boot, hibernate, and resume use more quickly. Hybrid Hard Drive technology can also improve system reliability and battery life.

The hybrid drive is intended for mobile PCs running Windows Vista. Your data is written to the flash memory, which saves work for the mechanical hard drivesaving you battery power. The hybrid drive helps Windows Vista resume use faster from Sleep because data can be restored from flash memory faster than from the mechanical hard drive. And since the mechanical hard drive is not working when you are in Sleep state with the Hybrid Hard Drive, you have less risk of hardware problems with the hard drive when you're on the move. Windows Vista takes advantage of Hybrid Hard Drives to save battery life, resume use faster from hibernation, and improve reliability.

(bold added)

Macs already wake up fast enough (for me) from normal sleep but would certainly benefit from using flash memory just for safe sleep without being a full-blown Robson cache.
post #28 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by sjk
(bold added)

Macs already wake up fast enough (for me) from normal sleep but would certainly benefit from using flash memory just for safe sleep without being a full-blown Robson cache.

"because data can be restored from flash memory faster than from the mechanical hard drive."

Let's also understand what they mean by that. Because the drive is powered down, as was mentioned, it takes time to turn on, spin up, do self checks, position its head, and then to start reading the data out. This more than makes up for the slower Flash memory, for this purpose.
post #29 of 42
Worth mentioning is when Intel showed off Robson they showed significant performance improvements using only 128 MB of flash. It doesn't require huge amounts of flash memory.
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post #30 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by Telomar
Worth mentioning is when Intel showed off Robson they showed significant performance improvements using only 128 MB of flash. It doesn't require huge amounts of flash memory.

That's right. I keep repeating that to people who think it will take tens of dollars of Flash, when it will only be a few bucks, at most. The packaging, plus the retail markups are what bring the price up to what it is.
post #31 of 42
Quote:
Sources have previously told AppleInsider to expect the first Intel-based Macs at next week's Macworld Expo in San Francisco, which may include the first 15-inch Intel PowerBook.

I thought it was a 13" iBook.

These rumors are just shooting all over the map.

I suppose if you make 100 guesses one of them has to be right.
post #32 of 42
A large Flash memory's main impact might very well be power consumption, not speed. The amount of battery power required to spool up that disk all the time is considerable. Imagine a laptop where it only had to spool the disk when you actual read or wrote files, not while you were just working away on your document or reading websites.
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post #33 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by 1984
We all know how accurate DigiTimes has been...

LOL, it would have been alot more interesting had they said, "replace the hard disk with a collection of flash"

I'm surprised they don't just dump the OS on a 8 gig flash device and just use the hard disk to save documents etc. on it
post #34 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by melgross
That's right. I keep repeating that to people who think it will take tens of dollars of Flash, when it will only be a few bucks, at most. The packaging, plus the retail markups are what bring the price up to what it is.

Especially with the deal Apple made to buy 1/2 of Samsung's flash supply. Maybe all that flash isn't going into nanos?
post #35 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by PBG4 Dude
Especially with the deal Apple made to buy 1/2 of Samsung's flash supply. Maybe all that flash isn't going into nanos?

That's actually some of the thinking I've read from analysts.
post #36 of 42
Like we really need analysts speculating the obvious.
post #37 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by sjk
Like we really need analysts speculating the obvious.

Sometimes these things are obvious AFTER people in the business say them. Then everyone else says that they thought so as well.

For business purposes what they say can be important, while what you say isn't.

That's why it matters.
post #38 of 42
Being an Apple analyst is the easiest job on the planet. They only need a few website addresses. http://www.appleinsider.com, http://www.thinksecret.com, http://www.macrumors.com.
post #39 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by kim kap sol
Being an Apple analyst is the easiest job on the planet. They only need a few website addresses. http://www.appleinsider.com, http://www.thinksecret.com, http://www.macrumors.com.

Except, as you know, those websites are wrong far more often than they are right. Sometimes they get info that proves correct, but mostly, not. They all missed the big one, while the WSJ, and then the Times got it right.

Macosrumors has gone straight down the tubes the past few years. It's one of the least professionally produced sites on the net.
post #40 of 42
Could this rumor actually apply to the MacBook Pro? I've seen at least one report of extremely fast boot up and application launches from somebody at the Expo.
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