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NAND flash to play bigger role in future Mac and iPod models

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
Apple Inc. plans extensive use of NAND flash memory in future Mac and iPod models, which will include a new sub-notebook and widescreen video iPod, according to one Wall Street analyst.

Citing a recent analysis of the supply chain, American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said the first product to bear the fruits of the ongoing development efforts in Cupertino will be a new NAND flash-based Apple sub-notebook.

"This is a new subnotebook form factor that will use NAND flash as primary storage," he wrote in a note to clients on Wednesday morning. "Our sources indicate that Apple would like to introduce the product in [the second half of 2007] to further capitalize on its strong MacBook growth, but timing will be dependent on NAND vendors' ability to drive down pricing further, making it economically attractive for Apple."

At the same time, Wu confirmed ongoing industry speculation that Apple will inevitably shift its flagship video iPod players to NAND from hard disk drive (HDD) storage, but warned the transition was unlikely in the near-term.

"Our sources indicate that while Apple plans to migrate the rest of its iPod product line to NAND flash from HDDs (the current vPod is the only model remaining), fairly low price points and customer appetite for high storage capacities will likely prevent this from happening until late 2007-2008," he told clients. The analyst noted that despite the aggressive price reductions in NAND flash over the past few years, his analysis indicates that mobile HDD storage still has around a 7 to 8 times the price advantage of NAND, which is down slightly from 10 times a year ago.

"Today 1 GB of NAND flash costs around $5, meaning 32 GB costs $160, which compares to $22 for the same amount of HDD storage," he explained. "Through 2007, NAND flash in notebook PCs will likely be limited to the high-end/ultra-portable market."

In addition to schooling clients on the price effectiveness of NAND versus HDD, Wu said he has learned that a widescreen video iPod "won't likely ship until after iPhone ships in the June timeframe to not take away from iPhone's launch." In the meantime, he anticipates storage capacity increases to the current line of video players, which are presently at 30GB and 80GB, respectively.

The American Technology Research analyst maintained his Buy rating on shares of the consumer electronics maker with a price target of $115 per-share.

"We see several additional catalysts in the quarters ahead, including Mac OS X Leopard, new movie and carrier partners, lower cost cell phones, and further extension of its core technology franchise into new business areas," he wrote.
post #2 of 35
I think it's a given, the only question is when, this year or a few years from now. Right now, I'm not convinced that solid state storage in place of 2.5" notebook drives has a worthwhile advantage other than mechanical durability, but you trade that for far fewer write cycles and much less capacity. Mechanical durability is more important for iPods, and the write cycles aren't as much of a limitation, but cost is.
post #3 of 35
Quote:
"Today 1 GB of NAND flash costs around $5, meaning 32 GB costs $160, which compares to $22 for the same amount of HDD storage," he explained. "Through 2007, NAND flash in notebook PCs will likely be limited to the high-end/ultra-portable market."

And in a couple years HD's will STILL be less expensive than NAND flash at the same capacities.
post #4 of 35
Hmmm...iSuppli puts Samsung 1GB x 4 NAND at $42.50 back in September. A 32GB SSD would cost $340 for the flash + controller with Apple's pricing. You can't buy the Samsung 32GB SSD on the market but it uses the same NAND as in the 4GB iPod.

Soo...$160 for 32GB is about half the pricing from Sept which falls in line with SanDisk's warning that NAND pricing suffered a 50% component cost reduction in the last few months (though I wonder if Wu is basing his $5/GB estimate on that same info).

With the new 2GB NAND starting production soon (Toshiba claims March, Samsung just says "spring") the older flash should become more widely available after Apple transistions to the new part and hopefully we'll see SSDs on the open market for around that $200-$300 price point.

We should see Apple's flash iPod lineup get a bump 3 months or so after Samsung gets the new chips into mass production if they follow the rough timeline from when the []b1GB[b]chip appeared (June 2006).

I can see a 32GB video iPod for possibly $299 if they can get 32GB of NAND less than that $160 price. The Toshiba 1.8" 30GB retails for $136 and iSuppli's estimate in October was $151 for the 30GB iPod.

So possible line up is 32GB SSD Video iPod for $299 and a 100GB HDD video iPod for $349. Then Nanos from 4GB to 16GB and a 2GB shuffle. When depends on if they want to maintain 50% gross margins and how much Samsung will discount the new NAND for them.

Vinea

Edit: Bolded typos fixed. Well, not typos, mental f*rts. The 4GB chip in the Nano is the 1GB NAND stacked in a 4 layer chip (2x2). They are 8Gb (gigabit) NANDs with new 16Gb NANDs coming out which will be 2GB NANDs in various packaging. Presumably up to 8GB in a single package.
post #5 of 35
I don't know much about the tech behind all of this, but here's what I thought of yesterday:
Why put a single (for example) 32gb NAND drive into a computer when you can put 4 8gb NAND drives in and pool them with ZFS? It would be cheaper (i would think) but you still see "1" volume when you turn on the laptop. It's my understanding that ZFS is creeping into the Leopard builds and it would allow for taking multiple drives and pooling them in some sort of "dynamic striping" raid configuration or something. I dunno, just my 2 cents, but I could see it being a possibility, at least until NAND prices fall dramatically enough to compete with regular HDD.
post #6 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I think it's a given, the only question is when, this year or a few years from now. Right now, I'm not convinced that solid state storage in place of 2.5" notebook drives has a worthwhile advantage other than mechanical durability, but you trade that for far fewer write cycles and much less capacity. Mechanical durability is more important for iPods, and the write cycles aren't as much of a limitation, but cost is.

Yeah. I'm not sure how it'll work for iPods, but I think the most practical use for NAND in a notebook (or subnotebook) would be to speed boot times and possibly to pre-cache some programs, but to still use a hard disk for the remaining data storage. That way, the write cycles aren't used up that much (giving a longer life), and the costs are kept low.

Definitely interested in a subnotebook...
post #7 of 35
That's just plain retarded. It's stupid decisions like that which have screwed them up in the past. I'm not buying the iPhone even if they hold iPod advancement hostage.
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post #8 of 35
Why not just run the OS from NAND? Very fast boots, near instant sleep mode, and I'm no tech but a lower battery consumption would make sence when the system is relativly idle.

How many GB's would that take?
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post #9 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by justflie View Post

I don't know much about the tech behind all of this, but here's what I thought of yesterday:
Why put a single (for example) 32gb NAND drive into a computer when you can put 4 8gb NAND drives in and pool them with ZFS? It would be cheaper (i would think) but you still see "1" volume when you turn on the laptop. It's my understanding that ZFS is creeping into the Leopard builds and it would allow for taking multiple drives and pooling them in some sort of "dynamic striping" raid configuration or something. I dunno, just my 2 cents, but I could see it being a possibility, at least until NAND prices fall dramatically enough to compete with regular HDD.

That's essentially what they do, although the "pooling" is done with a memory controller (hardware, not software). The largest NAND chip to date is only 4GB and it's not even in production yet.
post #10 of 35
Does anyone else lose most of their interest in a story once they come upon the word "analyst" nowadays?
post #11 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by justflie View Post

I don't know much about the tech behind all of this, but here's what I thought of yesterday:
Why put a single (for example) 32gb NAND drive into a computer when you can put 4 8gb NAND drives in and pool them with ZFS? It would be cheaper (i would think) but you still see "1" volume when you turn on the laptop. It's my understanding that ZFS is creeping into the Leopard builds and it would allow for taking multiple drives and pooling them in some sort of "dynamic striping" raid configuration or something. I dunno, just my 2 cents, but I could see it being a possibility, at least until NAND prices fall dramatically enough to compete with regular HDD.

$5/GB is your bottom end price and using 4 volumes means 4 controllers increasing your cost if you use the same flash vs 1 controller and 8 chips.

Vinea
post #12 of 35
since I work in Wall Street and it's that easy to write an article like that by just surfing web here and there, I should work as an analyst i guess.
post #13 of 35
I guess we'll see a "true" video iPod in September then, thats the kind of time Apple like to release new versions.
post #14 of 35
Quote:
Wu said he has learned that a widescreen video iPod "won't likely ship until after iPhone ships in the June timeframe to not take away from iPhone's launch."

Only confirmation of what everyone inferred Jan. 9. The chance Apple would ship THE video iPod before the iPhone is/was infinitesimal.
post #15 of 35
Yup that's what I want, a laptop with a 32 GB drive.....which does not include the OS so I guess after Leopard that would be more like 26 GBs! Sweet!
post #16 of 35
OMG, doesn't Shaw Wu ever shut the hell up?

and what's with this? "1GB = $5 so 32GB = $160" WRONG. That statement is only true if you want 32 independent 1GB NAND units! By that time, we're talking two times thicker than the Zune. If you want a single 32GB NAND unit, expect to pay around $1000.

And why the hell would apple want to make a Sub-Notebook over a tablet, especially with their "undercarriage optical bay" patent. It doesn't make sense to lift up the unit to put in a CD/DVD. A tablet is simple: you keep holding it in your hand, rotate your wrist, insert media with your other hand and unrotate your wrist.

Apple would not have spent all this time and research developing their multi-touch interface if they were going to banish it away to only the iPhone. It doesn't make sense in a laptop (who wants to reach out and touch their portable, or carry it around everywhere?). A table is MUCH easier to tote around, lightweight, no moving parts (hinges! YIKES!), flip it over, throw in a CD, etc.

Shaw Wu has overstayed his welcome as a Wall-Street "analyst." Guess what? I'm an analyst too because I think about the situation and the most logical progression for Apple to make given their technology. I can say right now that Apple's next portable is more likely to be a tablet than a "sub-notebook."

DISCLAIMER: For all you flamers who are eager to tell me that I don't know Apple's plans, I can only say that you're right. I don't. But niether does Shaw Wu. If anything, I know more about Apple than he does. Plus he has the reduced credibility factor of likely owning loads of Apple stock. I, on the other hand, don't own a single share. It's not in my interest to either trash talk or promote Apple Inc.

So to all you potential flamers, I don't want to hear it. Why don't you dish it at Shaw Wu instead?

-Clive
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post #17 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post

OMG, doesn't Shaw Wu ever shut the hell up?

and what's with this? "1GB = $5 so 32GB = $160" WRONG. That statement is only true if you want 32 independent 1GB NAND units! By that time, we're talking two times thicker than the Zune. If you want a single 32GB NAND unit, expect to pay around $1000.

SanDisk said $600 for their 32GB 1.8" SSD before saying "OMG the prices dropped 50% in the last qtr! Don't expect us to exceed guidance". Others says 2 times the cost of a 1.8" HDD by this spring (call it $300).

Given the Nano pricing, Samsung, if they so choose, could build $600 (retail) 32GB SSDs today but it appears most of their capability is going to the iPod and to OEMs. $600 is a mite too high for wide acceptance anyway. $300...well...now.

70% price cut in 2006. Toshiba estimates 60% price cuts in 2007. More likely since they just invested a huge chunk of cash to bring in new production capabilies for their higher density chips. They say they want to get to the "tipping point" where SSDs take significant share from HDD in the portable market which some analysts say is $120 for 64GB. If trends continue that's late 2008, early 2009...

Vinea
post #18 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinea View Post

SanDisk said $600 for their 32GB 1.8" SSD before saying "OMG the prices dropped 50% in the last qtr! Don't expect us to exceed guidance". Others says 2 times the cost of a 1.8" HDD by this spring (call it $300).

Given the Nano pricing, Samsung, if they so choose, could build $600 (retail) 32GB SSDs today but it appears most of their capability is going to the iPod and to OEMs. $600 is a mite too high for wide acceptance anyway. $300...well...now.

70% price cut in 2006. Toshiba estimates 60% price cuts in 2007. More likely since they just invested a huge chunk of cash to bring in new production capabilies for their higher density chips. They say they want to get to the "tipping point" where SSDs take significant share from HDD in the portable market which some analysts say is $120 for 64GB. If trends continue that's late 2008, early 2009...

Vinea

Thanks for exact numbers. I agree that $600, even $300, is still too much to pay. I don't doubt, though, that in a few years (~2009) flash will be a more viable option. But Shaw Wu coming and saying it like he's a revolutionary is uncalled for. In the technology worl, that's like saying "I will breathe at some point today." It's a gigantic "DUH" that Flash will play a bigger role in years to come. This guy says it like he's the one who thought of it. I must have seen that idea on this website at least a year ago. Seriously, that must be all Shaw Wu does: peruse rumor sites and build obvious rumors based on forum posts. He's trying to tell us what we want to hear... and claiming he got it from the source. He doesn't have any more info than we do.

-Clive
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post #19 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by syklee26 View Post

since I work in Wall Street and it's that easy to write an article like that by just surfing web here and there, I should work as an analyst i guess.

What if I told you... you already qualify as an analyst?

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

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post #20 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I think it's a given, the only question is when, this year or a few years from now. Right now, I'm not convinced that solid state storage in place of 2.5" notebook drives has a worthwhile advantage other than mechanical durability...

What about battery life? Flash allegedly has an advantage in that.

.
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post #21 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post

Apple would not have spent all this time and research developing their multi-touch interface if they were going to banish it away to only the iPhone.

I agree, they'll probably put it on the iPod as well. But a tablet? Meh... sure, if they even bother to build one. \

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post #22 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBaggins View Post

I agree, they'll probably put it on the iPod as well. But a tablet? Meh... sure, if they even bother to build one. \

.

Right. I am not willing to go out on a limb and say I confidently believe Apple is developing a tablet Mac. I'm just saying that a tablet seems much more likely than a Sub-Notebook, given the evidence.

-Clive
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post #23 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinea View Post

SanDisk said $600 for their 32GB 1.8" SSD before saying "OMG the prices dropped 50% in the last qtr! Don't expect us to exceed guidance". Others says 2 times the cost of a 1.8" HDD by this spring (call it $300).

Given the Nano pricing, Samsung, if they so choose, could build $600 (retail) 32GB SSDs today but it appears most of their capability is going to the iPod and to OEMs. $600 is a mite too high for wide acceptance anyway. $300...well...now.

70% price cut in 2006. Toshiba estimates 60% price cuts in 2007. More likely since they just invested a huge chunk of cash to bring in new production capabilies for their higher density chips. They say they want to get to the "tipping point" where SSDs take significant share from HDD in the portable market which some analysts say is $120 for 64GB. If trends continue that's late 2008, early 2009...

Vinea

Thank you for your posts. You seem to have done considerable studying of the
NAND industry capacity increases/improvements and pricing implications. I don't
want to bash Wu too much, but his predictions would seem more convincing if
he included this type of background, rather than just referring to his "sources".
post #24 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by wtfk View Post

That's just plain retarded. It's stupid decisions like that which have screwed them up in the past. I'm not buying the iPhone even if they hold iPod advancement hostage.

It's not stupid becuase you're not buying it. It's actually damn smart because they don't want people to spend all their money on a new iPod until the best iPod they ever made (according to Apple) has a chance in the marketplace.

Sebastian
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post #25 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Feynman View Post

Yup that's what I want, a laptop with a 32 GB drive.....which does not include the OS so I guess after Leopard that would be more like 26 GBs! Sweet!

Or... 2 Drives with 64 GB

Sebastian
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post #26 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

Thank you for your posts. You seem to have done considerable studying of the
NAND industry capacity increases/improvements and pricing implications. I don't
want to bash Wu too much, but his predictions would seem more convincing if
he included this type of background, rather than just referring to his "sources".

Would those sources happen to be the Rumor Sub Industry that revolves around Apple?

Sebastian
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post #27 of 35
It’s quite possible that future iPods will act like portable AppleTVs, meaning they will have a cache of locally stored content, but will be able to stream content from your own home network, or even the Internet. If that is the case, then 16GB would suffice.
post #28 of 35
It’s quite possible that future iPods will act like portable Apple TVs, meaning they will have a cache of locally stored content, but will be able to stream content from your own home network, or even the Internet. If that is the case, then 16GB would suffice.
post #29 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slewis View Post

It's not stupid becuase you're not buying [the iPhone]. It's actually damn smart because they don't want people to spend all their money on a new iPod until the best iPod they ever made (according to Apple) has a chance in the marketplace.

Exactly. Which is why we won't be seeing the 6G touchscreen video iPod 'til several months after the iPhone launches, but still in time for Xmas.

I'd expect somewhere around October, give or take a month.

.
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post #30 of 35
I'd much rather have only a small NAND capacity and a decent size 80GB 1.8" drive for regular storage. It's not like those things are too big for a subnotebook. Heck, Sony crams 2.5" HDs into thin, light subnotebooks, so why can't Apple? I'm all for being ahead of the curve, but every once in a while, it seems Steve is a little TOO far ahead of the curve, at our expense.
post #31 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caribou Killa View Post

Does anyone else lose most of their interest in a story once they come upon the word "analyst" nowadays?

yup. they just reiterate what the boards say.
reading the boards tells you more information than what analysts say.
post #32 of 35
Yeah - but if I report in a visionary way everything I read here then you'll know where it came from.
Have to dress it down a little to keep you guessing ...

Shaw
ps. Thanks to you all !
Keep 'em coming.
post #33 of 35
Oh Wu, we missed you so, coming to conclusions we all had months ago.
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post #34 of 35
MacBook Nano, anyone? And in 2009 it's going to be the MacBook Shuffle which, on each reboot, is going to randomly select files from your hard drive to work on...

SCNR
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post #35 of 35
Flash prices are coming down rapidly and Apple can sure get a good deal on large numbers of flash SSDs. For a small, thin MBP, you can get a 32GB SSD that's in the 1.8" form factor measuring 8.15mm high, a hair more that 5/16". Pricing would be about $600 more than a HDD within the next couple of months but could be hundreds less in the fall.

This article is a couple months old but it gives you an idea of the trend:

SanDisk announces 32GB SSD: prices begin to fall
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