Apple's engineering in new MacBook Pro paves way for speedy Optane storage in future models

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in Future Apple Hardware
Apple has set the table for inclusion of the future XPoint-based Optane SSD technology in an iteration of the MacBook Pro, potentially leading to dramatically faster access times and transfer speeds than conventional SSDs.




In the new MacBook Pros, Apple has implemented NVMe storage, across the PCIe bus. In part, this is why the Apple SSD storage in the new machines is best-in-class, with the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Function Keys are pulling down 2.2 gigabytes per second write speeds, and 3.1 gigabytes per second read speed.

Most of the rest of the industry relies on SATA-III SSD interfaces, limited to speeds around 575 megabytes per second, and is exceeded by the earlier 2015 MacBook Pro. Wider adoption of PCIe/NVMe storage for the mass market isn't expected until mid- to late-2017.
Conventional SSD media is about 100 times slower than the RAM used in the MacBook Pro, with Apple's new drives about 65 times slower. Optane storage media will be only about 8 times slower than LPDDR3 RAM.
"Apple has been a pioneer when it comes to PCIe/NVMe storage. They were the first PC company to broadly adopt it across its laptop portfolio while other companies today are still just using it in a very limited portion of their PC lineup," IDC research vice president Jeff Janukowicz told Computerworld. "By doing so, Apple has been able to deliver higher performance in terms of read/write speed and latency when compared to traditional SATA-based PC designs -- thus, making the new MacBook pro more responsive and faster."

NVMe, Apple's SSD controller, and 3D XPoint

NVMe is meant to replace the older AHCI technology, which was implemented to keep systems using spinning hard drives at maximum efficiency. The newer NVMe is optimized for low-latency operations made possible by solid state media.

Even in its infancy, NVMe reduces latency by 50 percent over a drive managed by AHCI. The newer NVMe has 2.8 nanosecond latency at present, with room for future boosts, versus AHCI's absolute peak with a SSD at 6 nanoseconds.

For comparison, AHCI's latency in a magnetic hard drive is measured in milliseconds, limited by the drive itself, and not the underlying technology, and around 10,000 times slower than LPDDR3. Furthermore, conventional SSD media is about 100 times slower than the RAM used in the MacBook Pro, with Apple's new drives in the MacBook Pro about 65 times slower overall.




Optane storage media will be only about 8 times slower than LPDDR3 RAM.

The speed of the SSD in the new MacBook Pro is from more than just NVMe support. Apple's 338S00199 SSD controller is the key to the operation, allowing for throughput on a portable SSD never before seen.

The next generation of flash media storage, called 3D XPoint, and branded as Optane by Intel, is compatible with the NVMe storage protocol that Apple already uses in some of its MacBooks, including the MacBook Pro. The new technology could be used in a new MacBook Pro in 2017, controlled by either the current Apple SSD custom controller, or a future version of same as the underlying technologies are compatible now.

Intel's forthcoming "Mansion Beach" SSD line based on Optane is intended to be installed on a system's motherboard, or with a connector similar to what Apple has utilized on the new MacBook Pro, and should debut very shortly. Refreshes of the as-yet unreleased technology, and variants for data centers, are expected in mid-2017, just in time for Apple to include in a 2017 MacBook Pro.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 75
    mtbnutmtbnut Posts: 195member
    But, but, but, I need more than 16GB of RAM. (whining, crying baby emoticon) 
    randominternetpersonSolirob53netroxandrewj5790ericthehalfbeemike1adonissmumacplusplusviclauyyc
  • Reply 2 of 75
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,806member
    Yeah, "Optane storage media will be only about 8 times slower than LPDDR3 RAM." so as mtbnut said, shut up whining cry babies. Only about eight times slower so instead of RAM you can just swap from the SSD! 

    /sarc.
    edited November 2016 Solitmayviclauyycdreyfus2tyler821st
  • Reply 3 of 75
    I thought the armchair engineers had determined that Apple's SSDs cost too much and the RAM was way too limited.

    Shocking to imagine that Apple might actually HAVE A PLAN to move the state of the art forward.

    This is why I don't engage in the suggestions Apple is 'doing it wrong' with specific hardware choices.
    edited November 2016 Solitmayandrewj5790mike1ai46adonissmumacplusplusrepressthispscooter63steveh
  • Reply 4 of 75
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,806member
    On a serious note, so when this mansion beach controller turns up on Intel motherboards, will Apple swap to it, or will we have Apple competing with Intel and other laptop designers on SSD read write speed with its own controller?
    tmay
  • Reply 5 of 75
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,945member
    SSD performance is one area where the MacBook Pro is unambiguously very much a Pro computer. 

    One thing I'm curious about regarding Optane is whether there would be a discernible advantage to using it for virtual memory. That could be a way to make people content with the 16 GB RAM limit. 
    schlackwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 75
    Tim KeatingTim Keating Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    Bzzt!

    "Optane will only work with Kaby Lake and newer CPUs, although Intel will support 64-bit versions of Windows 7 through Windows 10. This should help move the industry off of previous generations of silicon and help cement Kaby Lake as the processor of choice." Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/intel-micron-3d-xpoint-new-details-emerge/#ixzz4PRtQjsdx 

    And as we all know, the new Macbooks are all powered by Sky Lake procs.
    viclauyycjdw
  • Reply 7 of 75
    Furthermore, I feel I commented on another story a few days ago suggesting that perhaps Apple was approaching the RAM-limitation problem from the direction of making the SSD storage fast enough that overflowing physical RAM was no longer such a painful experience.

    This reminds me of the old days when you bought a 7200 or 10000 RPM spinning drive for working space. The HDD manufacturers had us spending more to push the spinning technology as far as it could go. Eventually it became worthwhile to pursue a different strategy. Enter the SSD.

    Forcing RAM past the limit where problems with power consumption and whatever else manifest is kind of like the old high-RPM HDDS. Ignoring the possibility that the SSD could be sped up to the point where enormous physical RAM chips are no longer necessary and continuing a linear design path without trying new designs is the kind of short-sighted (faux) R&D that I avoid by being an Apple customer.
    pscooter63watto_cobra1st
  • Reply 8 of 75
    Bzzt!

    "Optane will only work with Kaby Lake and newer CPUs, although Intel will support 64-bit versions of Windows 7 through Windows 10. This should help move the industry off of previous generations of silicon and help cement Kaby Lake as the processor of choice." Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/intel-micron-3d-xpoint-new-details-emerge/#ixzz4PRtQjsdx 

    And as we all know, the new Macbooks are all powered by Sky Lake procs.
    What part of "Paves the way…for future models" from the headline of this article did you not understand?

    My understanding is Apple switched the part of the memory system that they can with the current hardware. Optane memory isn't used in the current model. But once it is, presumably in the next update, the rest of the MacBook Pro design is ready for it.

    In the meantime, the SSD in this MBP is much faster than the outgoing model.
    edited November 2016 canukstormtmayericthehalfbeeandrewj5790williamlondonmike1ai46adonissmufastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 75
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,961member
    polymnia said:
    I thought the armchair engineers had determined that Apple's SSDs cost too much and the RAM was way too limited.

    Shocking to imagine that Apple might actually HAVE A PLAN to move the state of the art forward.

    This is why I don't engage in the suggestions Apple is 'doing it wrong' with specific hardware choices.
    Apple always has a plan. Armchair engineers always think they know better.
    polymniatmayandrewj5790williamlondonmike1adonissmuadamcrepressthisfastasleeppscooter63
  • Reply 10 of 75
    polymnia said:
    I thought the armchair engineers had determined that Apple's SSDs cost too much and the RAM was way too limited.

    Shocking to imagine that Apple might actually HAVE A PLAN to move the state of the art forward.

    This is why I don't engage in the suggestions Apple is 'doing it wrong' with specific hardware choices.
    Apple always has a plan. Armchair engineers always think they know better.
    I can just imagine the old muscle car guys who may have thought a 2016 performance vehicle would have an 8 liter engine.

    Rather, the state of the art (outside the exotics) is turbocharging, electric drivetrains, ultralight structural materials and other outside the box design concepts that certainly defy the old-style conventions of how to build a powerful vehicle.

    Sorry to trot out the tired car metaphor again.
    randominternetpersontmaycanukstormpscooter63welshdogRayz2016watto_cobrabrucemc
  • Reply 11 of 75
    polymnia said:
    polymnia said:
    I thought the armchair engineers had determined that Apple's SSDs cost too much and the RAM was way too limited.

    Shocking to imagine that Apple might actually HAVE A PLAN to move the state of the art forward.

    This is why I don't engage in the suggestions Apple is 'doing it wrong' with specific hardware choices.
    Apple always has a plan. Armchair engineers always think they know better.
    I can just imagine the old muscle car guys who may have thought a 2016 performance vehicle would have an 8 liter engine.

    Rather, the state of the art (outside the exotics) is turbocharging, electric drivetrains, ultralight structural materials and other outside the box design concepts that certainly defy the old-style conventions of how to build a powerful vehicle.

    Sorry to trot out the tired car metaphor again.


    "Never apologize for a good metaphor." --Socrates.

    edited November 2016 canukstormpscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 75
    No mention of the iPhone? The first (since the 6S) and only mobile device with NVMe.

    I know I'm repeating myself, but that Anobit acquisition is looking like a very smart buy for Apple.
    tmaywilliamlondonai46pscooter63watto_cobrabrucemc
  • Reply 13 of 75
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,838member
    Bzzt!

    "Optane will only work with Kaby Lake and newer CPUs, although Intel will support 64-bit versions of Windows 7 through Windows 10. This should help move the industry off of previous generations of silicon and help cement Kaby Lake as the processor of choice." Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/intel-micron-3d-xpoint-new-details-emerge/#ixzz4PRtQjsdx 

    And as we all know, the new Macbooks are all powered by Sky Lake procs.
    So the question I would have is whether there is Intel support of Optane via TB 3. That in itself would be game changing for Video/animation.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 14 of 75
    digitoldigitol Posts: 108member
    I heard the new MacBook Pro, will feature a heavy partnership with amd and have a CPU and graphics that is many times faster than current line up. Only have to wait 6mo +.  
  • Reply 15 of 75
    appexappex Posts: 687member
    Booting in two seconds? Bring it in.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 75
    schlackschlack Posts: 699member
    mtbnut said:
    But, but, but, I need more than 16GB of RAM. (whining, crying baby emoticon) 
    On a $3000 machine that people may hope to keep for 4-5 yrs, it's not very future proof. Especially if you use a virtual machine, like many professionals do, which effectively can cut your available RAM in half.
    edited November 2016 viclauyycjdw
  • Reply 17 of 75
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
    edited November 2016
  • Reply 18 of 75
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,961member
    digitol said:
    I heard the new MacBook Pro, will feature a heavy partnership with amd and have a CPU and graphics that is many times faster than current line up. Only have to wait 6mo +.  
    Where did you hear that?
  • Reply 19 of 75
    So is this tech just for MBPs, or will it work its way into iMacs too? If the next round of iMacs have this Optane SSD technology, I think that would motivate me to upgrade my desktop. 
    edited November 2016 watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 75
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,797member
    Well, reading this is very nice, but X-Point drives are expected to be much more expensive than even the fastest SSds for years. It isn't expected that they will be used in consumer products for years. Pro equipment is classified as consumer in this regard. These drives will be for large installations where the cost is less of an issue, and will be less because of the large purchasing those companies do.

    it would be interesting to see Apple go this way, but as an option, if they feel they can sell them. But I'm seeing expected pricing of $2,000, or more, for a 1TB drive next year. I don't see how Apple can do that. They would need to charge even more.
    jdw
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