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Intel tech could take MacBook Air SSDs to 160GB next quarter

post #1 of 38
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Intel next quarter will introduce several new high-speed solid state drives (SSDs), including a 160GB model that will more than double the amount of storage capacity that Apple could offer customers of its SSD-based MacBook Air.

The new models, expected in 2.5-inch and MacBook Air-compatible 1.8-inch formats, will compete with drives from existing flash memory drive makers including Samsung, which has promised a 128GB version of its 1.8-inch SSD in the third quarter of the year.

What's more, Intel's NAND product chief Troy Winslow tells News.com, is that the Intel drives will boast transfer rates that are far superior to existing offerings, including the 100MB per second offerings from Samsung.

"We will be supplementing our product line with a SATA offering," Winslow said, referring to the high speed Serial ATA hard drive interface that delivers speeds of up to 3GB per second.

"When Intel launches its...products, you'll see that not all SSDs are created equal," he added. "The way the SSDs are architected, the way the controller and firmware operates makes a huge difference."

Intel also expects the price of flash-based drives to fall considerably over the next few years, reducing the technology from a luxurious commodity to a mainstream staple in notebook systems two years from now. While it costs about $1000 to upgrade a notebook to an SSD today, that cost could be shaved to less than $200 by 2010.

"Price declines are historically 40 percent per year," said Winslow. "And in 2009, a 50 percent reduction, then again in 2010."

In speaking to News.com, the Intel exec also highlighted SSDs as playing an increasing role in the server market due to their ability accelerate performance more than sixfold when compared to even the highest performing traditional hard drives.

He said that Intel recently performed a video-on-demand demonstration that required 62 15,000 RPM hard disk drives to stream 4,000 videos simultaneously. The company was able to replicate the same test using just 10 SATA (SSD) technology drives, he said.
post #2 of 38
Wow! Technology just never ceases to progress!

I wonder if smaller versions might appear for iPhones.
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post #3 of 38
omfg!
post #4 of 38
Maybe they could also put something like that in their higher-end computers. That would definitely kick a$$ right there!
post #5 of 38
How 'bout a 160 GB SSD for the iPhone, gents?

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post #6 of 38
a $2000 iPhone!!??
post #7 of 38
Let see I would expect a MacBook Air with something like this to be $5,000. I am sure some would buy it as a build to order option.
post #8 of 38
This is excellent news, not only for upcoming MacBook Airs but also for the next MacBook Pros.

The only thing stopping me from buying a MBA today is the limitations of the 64Gb SSD drive. Assuming that these new SSD drives arrive in June, I wonder how long it'll be before Apple upgrades the MBA.
post #9 of 38
This is heady stuff! Just got to wait a few years...

I hate that my TiBook is still limping along, because it just makes me want everything. I want a faster laptop now (available) and I also want the summer revision (6 months) and a cool SSD drive (two years).

If the damn thing would just die, I could buy a new one and be done with it. My life would be so easy!

(Now, would I get a MB, MBP or an Air... OK, maybe life wouldn't be easier then!)
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post #10 of 38
Quote:
He said that Intel recently performed a video-on-demand demonstration that required 62 15,000 RPM hard disk drives to stream 4,000 videos simultaneously. The company was able to replicate the same test using just 10 SATA (SSD) technology drives, he said.


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post #11 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by riversky View Post

Let see I would expect a MacBook Air with something like this to be $5,000. I am sure some would buy it as a build to order option.

If Intel's prediction is right, then the next likely option, 128GB, should cost the same as the 64GB option does now. That would be about the beginning of next year. It might also be clearly faster in all measures than the competing 1.8" HDD.
post #12 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bageljoey View Post


If the damn thing would just die, I could buy a new one and be done with it. My life would be so easy!

Two words. Pepsi syndrome.
post #13 of 38
Clearly SSD is viable as primary storage for HIGH-END laptops now and for all laptops in a few years' time. But I'm wondering why Apple (or someone) doesn't adopt a hybrid approach for the next couple years that will bring SSD laptops to a broader market. Even 16GB would store the OS plus most apps and would hardly break the bank. Are there problems with integrating SSD+HD storage? Are the speed/battery gains not large enough?
I'd appreciate wisdom from you laptop design geeks out there...
post #14 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post

This is excellent news, not only for upcoming MacBook Airs but also for the next MacBook Pros.

Or the Mac Book Pro I just purchased! I think retro fitting to these sorts of drives will be huge if it can be a proven power saver and performance enhancer.
Quote:

The only thing stopping me from buying a MBA today is the limitations of the 64Gb SSD drive. Assuming that these new SSD drives arrive in June, I wonder how long it'll be before Apple upgrades the MBA.

I would expect the AIR solid state option to continuously decrease in cost over the next couple of years.

What is interesting is that Intel and one of its partners (Micron I Think) announced the technology making up the improved flash drives a month or two ago. What is interesting is the rapid transfer of the technology to production.

Dave
post #15 of 38
There is no history to make the claim that prices will drop by 40% on SSD after the first year and then an additional 50% after that.
post #16 of 38
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post #17 of 38
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post #18 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by posner View Post

Clearly SSD is viable as primary storage for HIGH-END laptops now and for all laptops in a few years' time. But I'm wondering why Apple (or someone) doesn't adopt a hybrid approach for the next couple years that will bring SSD laptops to a broader market. Even 16GB would store the OS plus most apps and would hardly break the bank. Are there problems with integrating SSD+HD storage? Are the speed/battery gains not large enough?
I'd appreciate wisdom for you laptop design geeks out there...

I see this as a very real possibility. It all depends on the approaches Apple thinks are feasible. Personally soldering 32 GB right onto the motherboard is the way to go. Leave the disk form factor space available to the users taste. Supplementary storage seems to be a way of life anyways.

Dave
post #19 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bageljoey View Post

This is heady stuff! Just got to wait a few years...

I hate that my TiBook is still limping along, because it just makes me want everything. I want a faster laptop now (available) and I also want the summer revision (6 months) and a cool SSD drive (two years).

If the damn thing would just die, I could buy a new one and be done with it. My life would be so easy!

(Now, would I get a MB, MBP or an Air... OK, maybe life wouldn't be easier then!)

Ahhh, the eternal question. Many a notebook has "accidentally" fallen from a table... wink, wink.

This is great news, as it's coming about much sooner than I expected.
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post #20 of 38
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Originally Posted by mazzy View Post

a $2000 iPhone!!??

Steve will drop them to $1500 after the first couple of months when the lines go away at the stores...
post #21 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slewis View Post

Hmm... about how many gigabytes do 2.5" HDDs gain every 9-12 months, and how fast have SSDs progressed in that same timeframe? (I'm just looking for storage, I know speed is important as well but I'm not asking about that)

I think Flash memory usually doubles every year for flash chips of the same size, but I stopped keeping track a while ago, but if Flash continues to go at that rate and 2.5" drives are not accelerating at a faster pace then SSDs will probably overtake them in that same timeframe, 2-4 years is my guess, and completely replacing HDDs in laptops within 6-8 years with HDDs becoming a rarity after that.

Capacity is not the only issue. Given the costs, I would push the uptake to 4 years or beyond.

Quote:
Now a Macbook Pro with the option of 2 256GB SSDs, that would be a dream.

If you're really dedicated to the idea, you can probably do that right now.
post #22 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slewis View Post

Hmm... about how many gigabytes do 2.5" HDDs gain every 9-12 months, and how fast have SSDs progressed in that same timeframe? (I'm just looking for storage, I know speed is important as well but I'm not asking about that)

I think Flash memory usually doubles every year for flash chips of the same size, but I stopped keeping track a while ago, but if Flash continues to go at that rate and 2.5" drives are not accelerating at a faster pace then SSDs will probably overtake them in that same timeframe, 2-4 years is my guess, and completely replacing HDDs in laptops within 6-8 years with HDDs becoming a rarity after that. Now a Macbook Pro with the option of 2 256GB SSDs, that would be a dream.

Sebastian

To my knowledge the biggest 1.8" drive currently is 160 GB, next quarter the largest SSD in 1.8" format will be 160 GB...
post #23 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by posner View Post

Clearly SSD is viable as primary storage for HIGH-END laptops now and for all laptops in a few years' time. But I'm wondering why Apple (or someone) doesn't adopt a hybrid approach for the next couple years that will bring SSD laptops to a broader market. Even 16GB would store the OS plus most apps and would hardly break the bank. Are there problems with integrating SSD+HD storage? Are the speed/battery gains not large enough?
I'd appreciate wisdom from you laptop design geeks out there...

Intel was pushing motherboards having a few GB of flash memory about a year ago (I think the marketing name included the word 'turbo'). Tests showed very little performance increases. The problem is that the OS must be smart enough to keep certain kind of data in the flash part (and Windows wasn't).
post #24 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by noirdesir View Post

Intel was pushing motherboards having a few GB of flash memory about a year ago (I think the marketing name included the word 'turbo'). Tests showed very little performance increases. The problem is that the OS must be smart enough to keep certain kind of data in the flash part (and Windows wasn't).

Thanks for the history! What about these hard drives with a really large flash buffer? Is the OS responsible for making sure what's needed is in flash there, too?
post #25 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by noirdesir View Post

Intel was pushing motherboards having a few GB of flash memory about a year ago (I think the marketing name included the word 'turbo'). Tests showed very little performance increases. The problem is that the OS must be smart enough to keep certain kind of data in the flash part (and Windows wasn't).

...so if it is difficult for software to make intelligent use of SSD+HD as an integrated storage device...

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I see this as a very real possibility. It all depends on the approaches Apple thinks are feasible. Personally soldering 32 GB right onto the motherboard is the way to go. Leave the disk form factor space available to the users taste. Supplementary storage seems to be a way of life anyways.

Dave

...then Wizard69's idea sounds very sensible: a larger (but still affordable) SSD as primary storage (e.g., 32GB by later this year), plus a big+cheap HD as secondary storage.

Given that HD will be cheaper than SSD for at least several more years, it seems like this kind of hybrid system would be worth developing. Individuals could then configure the proportions to suit their needs and budget (16SSD+250HD vs 64SSDS+160HD, etc.). If the SSD performance+battery advantages could be realized, this could be a near-term solution for MBP and even in the MacBooks by 2009.

Noirdesir, would this primarySSD/secondaryHD approach solve the software obstacle you described?
post #26 of 38
As long as the power requirement drops way down, bring it on - to my current MacBook.
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post #27 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by posner View Post

Noirdesir, would this primarySSD/secondaryHD approach solve the software obstacle you described?

Somebody, somewhere has to make the decision which files go on the slower disk and which on the faster one. People who have special scratch disk for Photoshop do this already.
If one could figure out which files one needs only rarely and which are read at slow rate, this split could be done.

I think, for once, that my whole iTunes library could sit on a slower drive (with slower drive meaning maybe a 5400 rpm 2.5" drive in a laptop), browsing iTunes is already fast enough for me with such a drive and playing the music also does not need high data rates.
If the OS were doing this sorting into slow and fast, I guess drivers for unused hardware (all those printers) could sit on the slower drive.

The main problem with this division into faster and slower drive is that the faster drive has to reach a critical size so that most of the often needed files fit on it.
post #28 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by tink View Post


It's just an example that benefits the near-zero seek time on SSDs compared to rotational media.

400 movies per hard drive is impressive of course, although were they 2mbit (100MB/s) or 8mbit (400MB/s)?

SATA also has a 3Gbit/s bandwidth, not a 3GB/s bandwidth. However I'm sure a version of SATA at 6Gbps will be coming soon.

Flash is also very amenable to parallelism, so each generation will be outdoing each other on that aspect anyway. You'd expect future products to be faster than previous ones in a technology that is still nascent.
post #29 of 38
Talk is cheap, place one in my hand please!
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post #30 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

Two words. Pepsi syndrome.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mzaslove View Post

Ahhh, the eternal question. Many a notebook has "accidentally" fallen from a table... wink, wink.

*Sigh*
You guys are cold. Could I really do that to my trusty TiBook?



Yeah, guess I could. If only I had extra $$$
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post #31 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bageljoey View Post

*Sigh*
You guys are cold. Could I really do that to my trusty TiBook?



Yeah, guess I could. If only I had extra $$$

Somehow I always manage to get philanthropic just when I need a new computer and give my old one to a good charity. It tends to assuage my guilt over my greed for the new machine. It's hard to finally pull-the-plug on a trusty laptop (especially since it'll just kick into battery mode).
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post #32 of 38
I wonder if the SATA protocol is efficient for SSD HD. Currently with 100/Mb per seconds doesn't seen to much of a problem.
But when with Speed cramping up and much more IO throughput. Would PCI express makes more sense?

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post #33 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bageljoey View Post

This is heady stuff! Just got to wait a few years...

I hate that my TiBook is still limping along, because it just makes me want everything. I want a faster laptop now (available) and I also want the summer revision (6 months) and a cool SSD drive (two years).

If the damn thing would just die, I could buy a new one and be done with it. My life would be so easy!

(Now, would I get a MB, MBP or an Air... OK, maybe life wouldn't be easier then!)

Well, that's the way that I got a new Nano (tried to replace the battery on my Mini, but the Mini "crashed" ever-after). I'm just glad that this didn't happen when I had to replace the hinge on my notebook -- and that was a much more involved operation than the iPod battery replacement! I ought to be able to get another year out of my computer.
post #34 of 38
Cool. My SATA Raid0 (two 80gb 7200rpms) does about average 85 MByte per second. My poor MacBook 5400rpm about 30MByte per second average.

BRING ON THE 200MByte per second. Wow. Hard disk storage prices are dropping like a frickin' bomb. Thank goodness Apple got out fast with XRaid. They are bloody brilliant, Steve * Co.

Looks like 500 to 1TB solid states will be common by early next year, by that time physical hard disks will be doing 3 to 5TBs easy. ...By middle of next year latest.
post #35 of 38
yea.. but just imagine the cost of that
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post #36 of 38
Guys - for the speed to be realized, the HD would have to implement a new bus architecture that would in effect sit on the primary data-bus. The SATA interface would be the limiting factor no matter how fast the disk becomes.

Any possible increase in speed is going to be only possible with a new IO controller interface which enables direct memory access. Half of the issue of FAT, NTFS and HPFS is the lookup mechanism in finding files as when you are dealing with file-store, fragmentation and allocation are key in all aspects of data storage.

With memory, memory maps are used to locate physical starts of applications/data/etc. You'd have to construct a hybrid and make it scalable to extreme capacities since conventional memory maps bottle-out at about 32GB. 160GB and greater (assuming that intel is just making a big loud noise as i doubt this is their only model coming out! Personally i could see SSD's in terms of TB for Servers.)

Afterwards you could ditch conventional memory and just have the Harddisk (SSD) and the primary store on the Chip-die.

But lets not stop there for a second. Does anyone realise that if you have 160GB SSD's at low market value, the ram(ifications) are such that it will impact every market imaginable - just think. 160GB SSD ipods.

I think this is the start of the Hard-Revolution - Now a Hard-Disk is really HARD.
post #37 of 38
By the way - no-apple laptop is going to EVER exceed the specs of the high-models. For this to even be realistic, SSD will have to be an option on the MBP's soon.

I suspect we wont see SSD options appearing there for about 6 months.

[Written on a Macbook Air SSD by a very happy customer!]
post #38 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazereth View Post

Guys - for the speed to be realized, the HD would have to implement a new bus architecture that would in effect sit on the primary data-bus. The SATA interface would be the limiting factor no matter how fast the disk becomes.

That's not a problem yet. I'm sure a new connection will be made before it becomes a problem.

Quote:
Afterwards you could ditch conventional memory and just have the Harddisk (SSD) and the primary store on the Chip-die.

Flash memory is considerably slower than RAM, and it certainly can't handle the hammering that it would take to use it as RAM. I don't see where that's going to change without a new kind of memory. Different types and speeds of memory have different costs. That's why we don't have gigabytes of SRAM, just a little bit that's needed to keep the CPU fed.
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