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Apple passes on Samsung's hybrid flash technology for Macs

post #1 of 56
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Apple Computer has reportedly turned down an offer to incorporate new flash-enhanced hybrid hard drives from Samsung into its Mac computer line, likely proceeding with plans to use technology from Intel Corp. instead.

Like several other PC manufacturers, the Cupertino, Calif.-based Mac maker has been working on a next-generation notebook design that will incorporate NAND flash memory to enhance the speed of some operations while simultaneously delivering longer battery life.

Apple, as AppleInsider reported this past September, is said to be working closely with Intel on the matter, leveraging a feature of the chipmaker's upcoming Santa Rosa notebook platform dubbed Robson.

However, a report over at APC claims that somewhere along the way Apple was approached by Samsung, which pitched its own proprietary solution called flash-enhanced hybrid hard drive. The technology, due to turn up during the first quarter of next year, essentially takes the approach as Robson but integrates the flash memory into the hard disk assembly rather than on the logic-board.

"We did propose the HDD (hybrid disk drive) concept to Apple" said Chuck Kang, an engineer from Samsung's the Flash Memory Planning Group, "but Apple's opinion is that they're not going to use HDD for their systems... they won't support it".

The report, rather speculatively, implies that Apple will instead introduce systems with Intel's Robson technology "one year from the introduction" of its first Intel-based notebook, the MacBook Pro Core Duo.

"Intel will sell Robson to OEMs as a mini-card module or a kit of components which can be mounted directly onto the motherboard," according to the report. "Santa Rosa's Crestline chipset will act as traffic cop, coordinating Robson's flow of bits over the PCI Express bus."

Robson is expected to be available in modules starting at 256MB for around $20 and ranging up to 512MB, 1GB and 2GB.

At Intel's fall developer forum, chief executive Paul Otellini spoke at length about the technology and offered some early benchmarks for Robson-enabled notebooks. He said users could expect faster boot times, 2X faster application load times, and a 2X reduction in the time need wake a system from sleep.
post #2 of 56
Well, I don't think Apple would refuse the technology altogether, and using Robson and Samsung's Hybrid would be two redundant processes, which amounts to one being a complete waste of energy. This report excludes the possibility of Samsung being the provider, so I think it's logical to conclude that Apple will be utilizing Robson and teh Santa Rosa platform.

(first post?)

-Clive
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post #3 of 56
Just for competition's sake, I hope to read soon that AMD will be adopting a similar platform.
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post #4 of 56
Quote:
The report, rather speculatively, implies that Apple will instead introduce systems with Intel's Robson technology "one year from the introduction" of its first Intel-based notebook, the MacBook Pro Core Duo.

That would be MWSF then, correct?
post #5 of 56
iPhone.

post #6 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by crees! View Post

That would be MWSF then, correct?

eh... doubtfull. Apple just released new MBPs and MBs in late October & early November, respectively. My guess is that they'll probably wait until late Q1'07 or early Q2'07.

Also, the average cycle for MBPs so far (according to the Mac Rumor's Buyer's Guide) is just shy of 150, i.e. about 5 months. That'll put us at late March, early April.

-Clive
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post #7 of 56
I mean I could be wrong but weren't MacBook Pro's released Jan 10, 2006? By the reasoning of the quote in the article that would make 1 year just a couple weeks away. Granted in all actuality March, like you said, would probably more expected.
post #8 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post

eh... doubtfull. Apple just released new MBPs and MBs in late October & early November, respectively. My guess is that they'll probably wait until late Q1'07 or early Q2'07.

Also, the average cycle for MBPs so far (according to the Mac Rumor's Buyer's Guide) is just shy of 150, i.e. about 5 months. That'll put us at late March, early April.

The upgrade cycle time can vary a lot, but April is about the time that the Intel Santa Rosa mobile platform will be available to the public.
post #9 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Just for competition's sake, I hope to read soon that AMD will be adopting a similar platform.

This is a chipset level technology so nvidia and ati need to work on it.

also what about desktops and the mac pro?
post #10 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by crees! View Post

I mean I could be wrong but weren't MacBook Pro's released Jan 10, 2006? By the reasoning of the quote in the article that would make 1 year just a couple weeks away. Granted in all actuality March, like you said, would probably more expected.

Yeah, you could definitely be right. It wouldn't be the first time Apple rolled out a pro notebook update in short order. There was one a couple years about where 2 or months elapsed between updates. Plus, Intel moves out chips faster than Apple is used to. Speaking of which, has Intel even announced the product or given an release date? As far as I am aware, they have not. That's kind of a serious checkpoint before Apple releasing a product. Another serious checkpoint is beginning manufacturing.

So unless Intel has officially announced the product and Apple has recieved sizable quantities of the chips (and Robson components) and begun production... since I haven't heard about either of these events, I would say chances are slim. But then again when do we ever know about Apple's production pipeline? Never. Maybe we'll be surprised, but with the available evidence, it doesn't look to promising.

-Clive
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post #11 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe_the_dragon View Post

This is a chipset level technology so nvidia and ati need to work on it.

also what about desktops and the mac pro?

Power isn't as much of a concern there. Also, desktop hard drives are usually a lot faster than notebook drives, so there may be zero speed advantage to using flash drives except for the more unusual desktops like the mini.
post #12 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Just for competition's sake, I hope to read soon that AMD will be adopting a similar platform.

You bring up an interesting point. If this becomes a chipset feature across the board, it'll basically render NAND hybrid HDDs useless... unless there's some way to make the technology in one complimentary to the other, rather than redundant.

-Clive
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post #13 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post

You bring up an interesting point. If this becomes a chipset feature across the board, it'll basically render NAND hybrid HDDs useless... unless there's some way to make the technology in one complimentary to the other, rather than redundant.

One would probably make the other unnecessary unless the OS can use both at the same time to enlarge the capacity. I think the OS would have to specifically support this to work this way.

If it's mutually exclusive, then which to chose depends on the performance, cost, space and so on. I think it may be the case where the hard drive is more easily upgraded than the Robson module, and it may be less complicated final assembly too vs. a Robson module, but Robson can be soldered-on too. Extra modules would be undesirable when the space/volume budget is so tight.
post #14 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by crees! View Post

I mean I could be wrong but weren't MacBook Pro's released Jan 10, 2006? By the reasoning of the quote in the article that would make 1 year just a couple weeks away. Granted in all actuality March, like you said, would probably more expected.

The Intel iMacs were released at last years MWSF, while the 15" MBPs were merely available for pre-order. I believe it wasn't until late February before the MBPs were being shipped.
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post #15 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Power isn't as much of a concern there. Also, desktop hard drives are usually a lot faster than notebook drives, so there may be zero speed advantage to using flash drives except for the more unusual desktops like the mini.

I wouldn't say that there wouldn't be a speed advantage, because there would, actually. It's like you said, though, that 1) HDDs in desktops have faster read times so the technology isn't as needed and 2) desktops are plugged into the wall so power consumption isn't as much of a concern.

-Clive
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post #16 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I think it may be the case where the hard drive is more easily upgraded than the Robson module,

yeah... but I'd hesitate throwing out a HDD simply for better perfomance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

and it may be less complicated final assembly too.

Certainly.

I wonder, thuogh, how these NAND hybrid HDDs would respond to being in a RAID. Can NAND flash be "striped" in the same way, or would it even be needed? I mean, NAND procures data instantly. Maybe I'm missing what the actual purpose of the NAND modules is. I was under the impression that they are like a mini-RAM for the HDD... which if placed in line with a RAID, probably wouldn't help matters that much.

Any thoughts on that?

-Clive
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post #17 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post

yeah... but I'd hesitate throwing out a HDD simply for better perfomance.

Who said anything about dumping it and that's the only reason to upgrade? It would be good for Optibay, or put in an external enclosure for backup storage and so on. I usually keep the upgraded components around in case I need to restore stock configuration in case it ever needs service by Apple.

Isn't upgrading the drive better than having to trade up the entire computer? If in a year or so you need a larger hard drive, you can upgrade it and get a bigger flash module for a double whammy boost in performance and a much larger drive too.

Quote:
wonder, thuogh, how these NAND hybrid HDDs would respond to being in a RAID. Can NAND flash be "striped" in the same way, or would it even be needed? I mean, NAND procures data instantly. Maybe I'm missing what the actual purpose of the NAND modules is. I was under the impression that they are like a mini-RAM for the HDD... which if placed in line with a RAID, probably wouldn't help matters that much.

Flash memory still isn't as fast as you seem to think. The latency is a lot lower, but the bandwidth is lower too, the fastest flash card I've seen was rated 72x the speed of CD-ROM. You could RAID flash drives, but that's expensive storage.
post #18 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Just for competition's sake, I hope to read soon that AMD will be adopting a similar platform.

Due to the fact that a technology such as Robson needs to be supported by the OS and AMD's processors are not used in Macs but Windows-based computers, an AMD-based box running Windows Vista will have support for a similar technology that Microsoft calls ReadyDrive.
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post #19 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post

I wonder, thuogh, how these NAND hybrid HDDs would respond to being in a RAID. Can NAND flash be "striped" in the same way, or would it even be needed? I mean, NAND procures data instantly. Maybe I'm missing what the actual purpose of the NAND modules is. I was under the impression that they are like a mini-RAM for the HDD... which if placed in line with a RAID, probably wouldn't help matters that much.

Any thoughts on that?

-Clive

This does seem to add a good deal of complexity to a RAID setup, but it may be as simple as adding a marker to the original data on the HDD that resides on the NAND, in case it ever needs to rebuild itself. Then again, since this NAND/HDD hybrid will be primarily used in notebooks--where RAIDs are not commonplace--this may not be much of an issue at all.
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post #20 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post

You bring up an interesting point. If this becomes a chipset feature across the board, it'll basically render NAND hybrid HDDs useless... unless there's some way to make the technology in one complimentary to the other, rather than redundant.

-Clive

Well Samsung could sell Hybrid drives to retro-fit in laptops that don't have the Robson chipset.

Hmm my TiBook could do with a new hard drive...
post #21 of 56
I makes sense that they'd pass on samsung's tech because that sounds like they'd only be able to offer samsung hard drives, whereas this keeps them open to use whomever they like especially when you consider how crazy fast 2.5" drives are growing.

What I wonder however is if the samsung method could be useful to those of us that have the first two revs of mbs and mbps. But if apple "won't support it" it sounds like it'd void my warranty.
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post #22 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by fahlman View Post

Due to the fact that a technology such as Robson needs to be supported by the OS...

Then I guess we won't see any Macs with this feature until Leopard hits?


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post #23 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBaggins View Post

Then I guess we won't see any Macs with this feature until Leopard hits?
.

Well we didn't get a new OS for the Intel transition; but then Leopard's due for release at about the same time anyhow.
post #24 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrtotes View Post

Well Samsung could sell Hybrid drives to retro-fit in laptops that don't have the Robson chipset.

It'd still need OS support though to write to the flash on deep sleeping and booting from it again on startup.

It's also less of a feature Apple needs than Microsoft since Apple laptops sleep and wake in seconds compared to Microsoft's standard sleep mode which writes a lot to disk and then reads it all back again on waking.

Booting from cold on an Intel Mac is also pretty snappy compared to most Windows PCs I've used so it's not needed so much their either.

It's quite possible Apple decided it didn't really need any hybrid technology just yet and it can wait till later.
post #25 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBaggins View Post

Then I guess we won't see any Macs with this feature until Leopard hits?

Certainly. We're looking at May 2007 to July 2007 as the period for this sort of Tech and rollout in MacBook and MacBookPro.

Of course, the amount of leverage Apple has through Intel would make sense as many have mentioned re: Flash- SnapStart (I came up with that name, much better than "Robson" ) on Macs.

Samsung made a good effort of making use of their existing Flash memory relationship with Apple to propose the HDD-Flash thingymajigger but sorry, Intel was there first.
post #26 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by ecking View Post

I makes sense that they'd pass on samsung's tech because that sounds like they'd only be able to offer samsung hard drives, whereas this keeps them open to use whomever they like especially when you consider how crazy fast 2.5" drives are growing...

For the life of me though, scouring the US, Australian and Malaysian IT retail markets, the Seagate 7200.1 Momentus 2.5" drive 80gb and 100gb SATA is hella rare. The other option is Hitachi, which suck a55 in my experience. They develop the "clicketh of death" sound just after your 1 year warranty expires.

I thought, if I get a 1GB 1.83ghz MacBook White, I can easily swap out the 5400rpm drive for a 7200rpm Seagate Momentus. That would bring it to the cost of the 1GB 2ghz MacBook White, but tells ya what, I think a faster near-desktop-speed hard disk is much more worth the cost than 370mhz more in CPU power. Also given how overclockable the Core2 is in general (Conroes 2ghz can hit 3ghz easy on stock air cooling), I'm reluctant to pay that extra for a 1.83ghz Merom when that's just what it's binned at for power/watt/etc; it could easily be clocked at 2.00ghz at the expense of slightly higher heat and power draw. (Edit: Of course, there's no way to overclock the 1.83ghz in the MacBook to 2.00ghz, I'm happy with a 1.83ghz Merom with a 7200rpm 80gb HDD, 1GB RAM.. That would be a nice teh snappy all rounder. BUT I DON'T LIKE THE MACBOOK SCREEN - Too small, colour/contrast changes a bit *too* much when you shift viewing angle).
post #27 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunilraman View Post

For the life of me though, scouring the US, Australian and Malaysian IT retail markets, the Seagate 7200.1 Momentus 2.5" drive 80gb and 100gb SATA is hella rare. The other option is Hitachi, which suck a55 in my experience. They develop the "clicketh of death" sound just after your 1 year warranty expires.

I thought, if I get a 1GB 1.83ghz MacBook White, I can easily swap out the 5400rpm drive for a 7200rpm Seagate Momentus.

I did exactly that, on a black MacBook when I first got it back in June. Well worth it for the performance boost:
http://forums.macnn.com/66/ibook-and...-macbook-some/

It would make even more sense with a Core 2 Duo, as processing power is rapidly outstripping other components and hard drive performance is the number 1 bottleneck.
post #28 of 56
i just purchased a macbook i just hope that they make one i can slip in and upgrade
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post #29 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post

I wouldn't say that there wouldn't be a speed advantage, because there would, actually. It's like you said, though, that 1) HDDs in desktops have faster read times so the technology isn't as needed and 2) desktops are plugged into the wall so power consumption isn't as much of a concern.

-Clive

Power consumption is very much a concern in desktops, particullarly for corporate customers who can have 500+ desktops active and running in a single location.

Also, this tech benifits desktops in that the Nand is still a heck of a lot faster than the drive. You will still see: improved load times, faster recovery from hibernation, fatster boot times, ect...
post #30 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by NOFEER View Post

i just purchased a macbook i just hope that they make one i can slip in and upgrade

Nope, sorry. You would need a replacement mobo for the new intel platform or for the hardrive version that Samsung is proposing, a patched OS, updated firmware on your mobo and a new HDD.
post #31 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelb View Post

I did exactly that, on a black MacBook when I first got it back in June. Well worth it for the performance boost:
http://forums.macnn.com/66/ibook-and...-macbook-some/

It would make even more sense with a Core 2 Duo, as processing power is rapidly outstripping other components and hard drive performance is the number 1 bottleneck.

8) Awesome. I too definitely believe a 5400rpm drive in ANY modern desktop or laptop or small-form-factor PC is a significant bottleneck.

Newegg has the Seagate 80gb at USD $125 and 100gb at $150. Prices have dropped since you got yours ...OWC has the 100gb at $180. (SATA models)
post #32 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by NOFEER View Post

i just purchased a macbook i just hope that they make one i can slip in and upgrade

Get one of the Seagate Momentus 7200rpm (SATA) drives I mentioned above and just replace your MacBook HD (It's very very easy) -- and you'll notice much "snappier" response. Good enough for now without having to crave this hybrid flash-hard disk thing.
post #33 of 56
just for the record Leopard already supports using flash to speed things up. For example you can buy a flash EVDO card and set leopard up to use it as a "boost" for your system and startup. Similar to the feature in Vista
post #34 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by webmail View Post

just for the record Leopard already supports using flash to speed things up. For example you can buy a flash EVDO card and set leopard up to use it as a "boost" for your system and startup. Similar to the feature in Vista

Hey interesting... But why does it have to be EVDO? Can't it just be a 1GB USB Stick or something?
post #35 of 56
With the NAND price dropping constantly i hope 256MB of Robson will never see the light. I would much rather see 512 as lowest standard. And 1Gb or even 2Gb on all Macs.

HD. The slowest component in todays PC is greatly holding back the performance.
post #36 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by ksec View Post

With the NAND price dropping constantly i hope 256MB of Robson will never see the light. I would much rather see 512 as lowest standard. And 1Gb or even 2Gb on all Macs.

2Gb = 256MB. The case matters when you are writing size.
post #37 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

2Gb = 256MB. The case matters when you are writing size.

Heh. Nitpicky. Clearly he means 1GB or 2GB 8) ...Seriously though, good point, we AppleInsiders need to keep up the standards since this website has become so important and no doubt scoured thoroughly by analysts and institutional plus retail investors . Actually, I'm pretty happy with my spelling now with Firefox 2.0+ having auto spellchecking as you type in forms. And it is set to British English.
post #38 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by ksec View Post

...And 1[GB] or even 2[GB] on all Macs... HD. The slowest component in todays PC is greatly holding back the performance.

I think for laptops [MacBook particularly since it is so easy] replacing the hard disk with a Seagate Momentus 7200rpm SATA is the first step that will make s significant difference.

For desktops, I would say the Intel Matrix raid on Intel chipsets is so far the best mainstream enthusiast/ prosumer/ pro desktop solution. 4 SATA hard drives: Critical apps fast and protected, with a good RAID 0 section for speedy scratch disk/ temp workfile space/ game texture and level loading/ pagefile(s) etc. Image:

post #39 of 56
Actually [confirmed], you could even have 2 RAID sets over 2 drives only - one RAID 1 or 0+1(AFAIK) set and one RAID 0 set over the two drives. So you would have the OS (well, Windows most likely) see it as two logical hard disks. In the event of 1 drive failure the RAID 1 or 0+1 set can rebuild the other drive, which is the important set, while the other RAID 0 set, fracked, but containing non-critical data, it is not a problem.

For PC peoples, this is a nice RAID solution, with only 2 drives. It should be available as of now, or very soon on a wide array of motherboards based on Intel G965, P965, 975X Express chipsets. The P965 and 975X Intel chipset motherboards are strongly recognised to be excellent overclocking chipsets (implemented better by some companies eg. Gigabyte) for Core2Duo (Conroe). Where you can take a 2+GHZ Conroe and whack it up to 3.0GHZ easy on stock air cooling. Sweeet.

I'd have to check with how the RAID solution is implemented during setup, install and recovery, I have not tried it personally. But it is hardware-based RAID, without having to fiddle with a PCI or PCIEx RAID card, which may not offer this "Matrix" RAID solution which I think is pretty cool.

The old-skool nVidia RAID solution for nForce4 AMD64 boards require copying to, then using a 3.5" floppy disk to read the RAID drivers when installing Windows XP2 Pro.

Yeah again I have to say, onboard RAID with 2 Drives (say IntelMatrix or nVidiaRAID[0])is sufficient in most cases to improve responsiveness in a desktop platform over a single 7200rpm SATA drive. For enthusiasts and overclockers, sometimes an external card is not worth the heat and space, in terms of managing airflow within the casing (yes they can be obsessive even with tying up and "routing" the cables within the casing in the right way for optimum airflow with minimum number of fans + minimum fan speed/ noise.

Edit: Side Note: I'd like to see more of the cheaper casings (unbranded) have better sound dampening around the casing, even if it is simpler, cheaper solutions like just some hard-wearing rubber or silicone or something. Idea to self: Get some silicone from hardware store and strategically place near (but not covering) the seams of the metal casing bits. Would it help? Hmm......
post #40 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunilraman View Post

For desktops, I would say the Intel Matrix raid on Intel chipsets is so far the best mainstream enthusiast/ prosumer/ pro desktop solution. 4 SATA hard drives: Critical apps fast and protected, with a good RAID 0 section for speedy scratch disk/ temp workfile space/ game texture and level loading/ pagefile(s) etc. Image:


So you missed the ZFS support leak then?

http://themachackers.com/2006/12/19/...a-closer-look/

RAID is about to become obsolete, at least as far as users at the front end are concerned.
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