Rumor: Apple manufacturing 2TB SSDs bound for upcoming Mac Pro

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
A fresh rumor holds that Apple may be producing self-branded large capacity solid state drives for use in the next Mac Pro, the company's professional level tower that is said to be getting a refresh later this year.

Mac Pro Drives
The current Mac Pro with four 3.5" drive bays highlighted in red. | Source: Apple


According to Bright Side of News*, a blog covering the semiconductor industry, a visit to Far East suppliers purportedly revealed a first-batch run of a 2TB solid state drives emblazoned with the familiar Apple logo, prompting speculation that the Cupertino company may include the component into a high-end desktop like the Mac Pro.

It should be noted that AppleInsider is unable to vouch for the veracity of the publication's statements and offers the following information for purposes of discussion only.

The capacious SSDs were reportedly spotted during a factory tour for a "completely unrelated subject," and further information regarding the drives is scarce.

"But seeing a 2TB Solid State Drive with an Apple logo on it opens very large ground for speculation," the report says. "Given that we were not able to learn more about the parts in question, we have to leave it at that."

From what was gathered by the quick look, the SSDs are built on the 3.5-inch form factor with full-height enclosures and boast a standard Serial-ATA connector. If legitimate, the drives would be placed directly in Apple's high-end desktop category, as the new iMacs switched to smaller 2.5-inch laptop drives to save space.

Currently, the Mac Pro can be configured with up to 8TB of storage in the form of four 2TB 7200-rpm hard drives, though solid state options top out at 512GB. The tower eschews the use of cables by utilizing a direct attachment system, with each 3.5-inch bay located above SATA slots on the logic board.

Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed in an email last year that the Mac Pro, which has not seen a major design overhaul in years, would be getting an update sometime in 2013. Most recently, Apple stopped European sales of its pro-level tower in February, as the computer's fan blades are incompatible with a regulation that recently took effect in the region.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 81
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Why would Apple be making SSDs?


     


    Followup: Can I get a bare Apple-branded SSD for less than the cost of my house?


     


    And does Apple branding on drives really mean that Apple made them? I have plenty of hard drives with the Apple logo on them; that doesn't mean Apple made them.


     




    Currently, the Mac Pro can be configured with up to 8TB of storage in the form of four 2TB 7200-rpm hard drives, though solid state options top out at 512GB.



     


    And for clarity's sake, this is the 'from Apple' configuration. Anyone can buy four 4TB drives and have 16TB in their Mac Pro right now.

  • Reply 2 of 81
    majjomajjo Posts: 574member
    Why would Apple be making SSDs?

    Funny, I said the exact same thing about Intel 5?ish years ago
  • Reply 3 of 81
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,671member
    I don't think for a minute that Apple will be innovative by increasing storage capacity, especially for a desktop computer. IPhone? Yes, I welcomed the 64GB version - with my wallet. But a 2TB SSD - thanks, I'll pass.
  • Reply 4 of 81
    ifij775ifij775 Posts: 470member
    I don't quite get what the target market is any more for the Mac Pro. I doubt the revenues are even worth mentioning in financial reports. I imagine they keep some guy from Next around updating this product so they don't have to lay him off
  • Reply 5 of 81
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member


    Remember the Anobit purchase!    As for Apple "making" the storage modules, it would be contractors no matter what.   Either way I expect that Apple will eventually implement Anobits technology into custom storage solutions.


     


    As for cost the whole idea behind buying a company like Anobit is that you can put your own IP into a product and not have to pay for somebody else's profits.    There is really no reason for an unaffordable 2TB SSD.


     


    The bigger question that should be asked is does the article make any sense at all.    Full height drives went out of production years ago for one.   Further it would be totally asinine on Apples part to debut a new Mac Pro architecture and not have the Solid State Storage on a PCI-Express port along with a standard card.   It really make no sense at all to put what amounts to a Printed Circuit card into the chassis of yesteryears magnetic drive tech.   It is one thing to use SSD in old drive formats to bridge technology but even Apple has given up on that in its laptops.


     


    Given the above and a few other issues i suspect the article is bogus.   Or at the very least somebody saw something they didn't understand.  


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Why would Apple be making SSDs?


     


    Followup: Can I get a bare Apple-branded SSD for less than the cost of my house?


     


    And does Apple branding on drives really mean that Apple made them? I have plenty of hard drives with the Apple logo on them; that doesn't mean Apple made them.


  • Reply 6 of 81
    zoffdinozoffdino Posts: 192member
    SSDs are falling to near $1/GB these days. So 2TB would cost a hugh $2000. What I think is, they somehow managed to jam 4 x 512GB mSATA SSD into the enclosure, with a RAID controller to help with the distribution of data.
  • Reply 7 of 81
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Why would Apple be making SSDs?


     


    Followup: Can I get a bare Apple-branded SSD for less than the cost of my house?


     


    And does Apple branding on drives really mean that Apple made them? I have plenty of hard drives with the Apple logo on them; that doesn't mean Apple made them.


     


     


    And for clarity's sake, this is the 'from Apple' configuration. Anyone can buy four 4TB drives and have 16TB in their Mac Pro right now.



    I don't know about 2TB SSDs.  I can see Fusion drives since they are as fast as an SSD for a little more than HDD.  2TB drives would cost over $2,000.  Right?  1TB Fusion drives cost about $450.


     


    Updated to adjust for 2TB drives.

  • Reply 8 of 81
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member


    Where did this point of view come from?   The Mac Pro is the only professionally oriented machine they have.   Drop that and respect for the entire Mac Line goes down the tubes.   It is no different than Ford and its pickup trucks, volume goes to the F150 but they do have machines, sold at a much lower volume, for professional use.


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ifij775 View Post



    I don't quite get what the target market is any more for the Mac Pro. I doubt the revenues are even worth mentioning in financial reports. I imagine they keep some guy from Next around updating this product so they don't have to lay him off

  • Reply 9 of 81

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post



    I don't think for a minute that Apple will be innovative by increasing storage capacity, especially for a desktop computer. IPhone? Yes, I welcomed the 64GB version - with my wallet. But a 2TB SSD - thanks, I'll pass.


     


    What about 4 plug and play drive bays for those SSD's to bring it up to 8TB SSD. Or you could mix and match with 4TB 7200rpm hard drives for a total of 16TB and configure in software for different RAID configurations or perhaps fusion drives.

  • Reply 10 of 81
    ifij775ifij775 Posts: 470member
    wizard69 wrote: »
    Where did this point of view come from?   The Mac Pro is the only professionally oriented machine they have.   Drop that and respect for the entire Mac Line goes down the tubes.   It is no different than Ford and its pickup trucks, volume goes to the F150 but they do have machines, sold at a much lower volume, for professional use.
    High performance computing is either deployed through commodity clusters or gpu clusters. This product has fallen in the void between those and a desktop that isn't very large.
  • Reply 11 of 81
    patspats Posts: 112member
    Seems like a perfect fit for Apple's datacenters. SSD has much faster speed and low power consumption.
  • Reply 12 of 81
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    drblank wrote: »
    I don't know about 2TB SSDs.  I can see Fusion drives since they are as fast as an SSD for a little more than HDD.  2TB drives would cost over $2,000.  Right?  1TB Fusion drives cost about $450.

    Updated to adjust for 2TB drives.

    I don't doubt for a minute that Apple is probably looking at 2 TB SSD drives.

    1. SSD drive size continues to get larger. As the chip technology improves, the ability to put more storage in a device improves. Plus, the Mac Pro can hold 3.5" drives, so there's even more room.

    2. Fusion does not replace SSD for everyone. If you reuse the same data repeatedly, the Fusion's speed is commendable. But if your data access is truly random (I don't know, but perhaps massive databases?), it won't be as fast as SSD. In the very high end professional market, the extra performance might easily be worth the money.

    I have no idea if we'll see 2 TB SSD drives today or in 5 years, but they're coming and they will eventually be affordable. After all, the 500 GB SSD in my laptop was thousands of dollars a few years ago and not attainable at all just a bit before that.
  • Reply 13 of 81
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GadgetCanada View Post


    What about 4 plug and play drive bays for those SSD's to bring it up to 8TB SSD. Or you could mix and match with 4TB 7200rpm hard drives for a total of 16TB and configure in software for different RAID configurations or perhaps fusion drives.



    I don't think you really want SSD on the SATA interface. Wouldn't it be much faster if it was on the PCI bus? 

  • Reply 14 of 81
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,477member
    Axe the Pro and create a modular "stack" of Mac Mini-like components. The basic puck contains the CPU, controller and an SSD. Connector on the top mates with connector on the bottom of the next identically sized module containing a big SSD. Other modules have graphics cards. Fans inside modules as needed. Mix and match. Collect 'em all! See how tall you can build your tower.
  • Reply 15 of 81
    I'd used Mac Towers for nearly 20 years until about 5 years ago when I switched to souped up iMac 27s. As a commercial artist and professional composer, the iMacs did and continue to do a spectacular job. But that's me. I know video pros and CGI pros who would likely have a fit if the MacPro disappeared. I have to agree with Wizard69 in reference to Ford. There may be a more modest market for the MacPro, but there definitely is a market. Not everything they make has to sell like the iPad! Besides, the profit on these high end machines is astronomical. That should be reason enough.
  • Reply 16 of 81
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post



    Axe the Pro and create a modular "stack" of Mac Mini-like components. The basic puck contains the CPU, controller and an SSD. Connector on the top mates with connector on the bottom of the next identically sized module containing a big SSD. Other modules have graphics cards. Fans inside modules as needed. Mix and match. Collect 'em all! See how tall you can build your tower.


     I suppose you could connect the clusters through Thunderbolt but I doubt that you will achieve the same performance using inexpensive cluster units compared to a couple 8 core Xeons on the same PCI bus. When you have the local chipset multithreading the tasks it trumps load balancing clusters. Besides, clusters are not really suitable for workstations in my opinion, plus you need the GPU in one place for good video throughput. In that configuration you are already talking about a master controller computer so adding dumb processing units is only applicable for final render tasks but adds almost no performance gains for everyday computing.

  • Reply 17 of 81
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,951member
    jragosta wrote: »
    I don't doubt for a minute that Apple is probably looking at 2 TB SSD drives.

    1. SSD drive size continues to get larger. As the chip technology improves, the ability to put more storage in a device improves. Plus, the Mac Pro can hold 3.5" drives, so there's even more room.

    2. Fusion does not replace SSD for everyone. If you reuse the same data repeatedly, the Fusion's speed is commendable. But if your data access is truly random (I don't know, but perhaps massive databases?), it won't be as fast as SSD. In the very high end professional market, the extra performance might easily be worth the money.

    I have no idea if we'll see 2 TB SSD drives today or in 5 years, but they're coming and they will eventually be affordable. After all, the 500 GB SSD in my laptop was thousands of dollars a few years ago and not attainable at all just a bit before that.



    It seems like 2TB should be possible in the 3.5" drive size.

    OWC's price for 1TB PCIe drive is $1500.

    http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/SSD/PCIe/OWC/Mercury_Accelsior/RAID

    Pricey BTO option, maybe.
  • Reply 18 of 81
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    mstone wrote: »
    I don't think you really want SSD on the SATA interface. Wouldn't it be much faster if it was on the PCI bus? 

    Maybe, although I'm not sure it matters. They can have a number of SATA buses so that each drive would have its own bus. In that case the newest version of SATA might not be a slow down.

    It's also possible that they're making SATA drives for testing (because their existing computers have SATA) but plan to switch to PCIe or Thunderbolt for future versions.
    jeffdm wrote: »
    It seems like 2TB should be possible in the 3.5" drive size.

    OWC's price for 1TB PCIe drive is $1500.

    http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/SSD/PCIe/OWC/Mercury_Accelsior/RAID

    Pricey BTO option, maybe.

    That's exactly the point. However, figure another year for the price to come down and it wouldn't surprise me to see 2 TB at $1500 to 2000 - which is certainly not out of the realm of possibility for high end professionals.
  • Reply 19 of 81
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    If true, and I think it's has merit, it would appear they are keeping the 3.5" bay which some thought would go away as they move it to all SSD. I guess that's still possible with a PCie SSD card but I think it's highly unlikely as the only option for storage.

    I'm not expecting anything radically different; just a smaller case than the current Mac Pro as certain components are shrunk and some removed, like the ODDs. I expect a new "look" but something around that volume and still using 4xHDD bays seems most likely to me.

    400 400

    wizard69 wrote: »
    There is really no reason for an unaffordable 2TB SSD.

    I don't see how anyone can say that. A 2TB SSD will be extremely expensive over a 2TB HDD which will put it far out of the "affordable" category for most people.

    Here is an article from less than 2 weeks ago regarding a 2TB PCIe SSD: http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/storage/display/20130128235100_STEC_Introduces_2TB_Solid_State_Drives_New_Version_of_Caching_Software.html

    Even if Anobit can help Apple reduce costs this is a professional machine where they will test the HW more throughly and where they will market it accordingly so if it's thousands of dollars for the cheapest one don't expect Apple to undercut that.
  • Reply 20 of 81
    michael scripmichael scrip Posts: 1,915member
    ifij775 wrote: »
    I don't quite get what the target market is any more for the Mac Pro. I doubt the revenues are even worth mentioning in financial reports. I imagine they keep some guy from Next around updating this product so they don't have to lay him off

    And yet... every major manufacturer makes workstations. Somebody's buying them.

    The difference is... if HP suddenly stopped making Windows workstations... you could still get one from Dell.

    But if Apple stops making Mac Pro workstations... you're SOL

    Sure... Apple doesn't sell as many Mac Pros as iPhones... but there's still a market for the Mac Pro. There's money to be made from the Mac Pro.
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