Apple looks towards flash-enabled notebooks

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Intel Corp's plan to incorporate NAND flash memory into its next-generation notebook platform will enable PC manufacturers such as Apple Computer to develop systems that are twice as fast in some operations yet sustain longer battery life.



Already a fixture in Apple's most popular iPod digital music players, NAND flash is a type of memory that contains no moving parts and retains data even without a power supply.



During a developer forum this past March, Intel revealed plans to add the technology as a feature of its Santa Rosa notebook platform due out in the first half of next year, saying it would offer the main benefit of almost instantaneous PC boot times.



At the forum, Intel mobility chief Sean Maloney conducted a demonstration in which he booted two PCs, one with 256MB of flash memory, and the other without. The PC with flash booted in about half the time.



Maloney said the technology can scale way beyond a 256MB flash buffer, potentially running a PC's entire operating system from flash instead of from the hard drive. "It just comes down to what's the cost curve on NAND," he said.



While Apple is not listed amongst the PC manufacturers who have committed to the Santa Rosa platform, people familiar with the Mac maker say it has been working closely with Intel engineers to implement NAND flash into a future-generation of its MacBook notebook lines.



Those same people say that Apple is amongst the best positioned in the PC industry to adopt the technology broadly due, in part, to its existing supplier arrangements with the world's five-largest NAND suppliers.



Apple's top selling notebook line: the 13-inch MacBook



At Intel's fall developer forum this week, Intel chief executive Paul Otellini spoke at length about Santa Rosa and offered some early benchmarks for NAND-enabled notebook PCs. 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 hibernation.



"The platform that launches next year will have NAND on the motherboard for the first time that we know of out there," said Otellini. "[It] significantly improves notebook performance and battery life."



Essentially, Otellini said, the NAND flash will act as a buffer cache so that frequently accessed data can be stored on the NAND flash rather than the hard drive.



"This means it is more available to the main memory and the microprocessor," he said. "It doesnt have to go out to the drive. Since it doesnt have to go out to the drive as often, it consumes less battery life under notebook mode."



Before embarking on its next-generation notebooks in 2007, Apple later this year will refresh both its MacBook and MacBook Pro lines with Intel's new Core 2 Duo mobile processors.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 74
    so it acts like a buffer..



    if someone finds a way to do this for the current notebooks, it'd sell.
  • Reply 2 of 74
    I think that this is a great item for Microsoft, since they have to reboot so often. For me, I reboot when a new security fix requires it. Otherwise, my iBook (my MBP arrives tomorrow) just shuttles from home to work with the lid closed.



    Perhaps I am missing a key value to this. Anyone else think that improving the boot time of a MB or MBP is not much of an issue for OSX users? Perhaps Bootcamp users want this!
  • Reply 3 of 74
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cwoloszynski


    I think that this is a great item for Microsoft, since they have to reboot so often. For me, I reboot when a new security fix requires it. Otherwise, my iBook (my MBP arrives tomorrow) just shuttles from home to work with the lid closed.



    Perhaps I am missing a key value to this. Anyone else think that improving the boot time of a MB or MBP is not much of an issue for OSX users? Perhaps Bootcamp users want this!



    It will be extremely awesome for use with Boot Camp, making OS switching much less onerous. However, if you read the article carefully, it points out that programs will be able to boot faster as well if recently used programs are left stored in the NAND memory. Think about the boot times for some Adobe products for example, and you'll see that this innovation could be a big deal to just about every computer user.
  • Reply 4 of 74
    iq78iq78 Posts: 256member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cwoloszynski


    I think that this is a great item for Microsoft, since they have to reboot so often. For me, I reboot when a new security fix requires it. Otherwise, my iBook (my MBP arrives tomorrow) just shuttles from home to work with the lid closed.



    Perhaps I am missing a key value to this. Anyone else think that improving the boot time of a MB or MBP is not much of an issue for OSX users? Perhaps Bootcamp users want this!



    ...

    Battery Life. Anything that keeps a hard drive spun down for as long as possible can really save battery life. Speed + Battery Life. Also, there are plenty of consumers that just can't get behind the sleep thing. They feel they must shutdown their computers when they are not using them. Even if they do put them to sleep, this should help with the wake-up speed as well.



    IQ78
  • Reply 5 of 74
    eckingecking Posts: 1,588member
    It's gonna be a while until this trickles down in the consumer space.



    Probably only a high end macbook pro will have this within the next 2-3 years. And that's assuming intel has the formula right, right now. It could take intel another 1-2 years easy to perfect it.
  • Reply 6 of 74
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ecking


    It's gonna be a while until this trickles down in the consumer space.



    Probably only a high end macbook pro will have this within the next 2-3 years. And that's assuming intel has the formula right, right now. It could take intel another 1-2 years easy to perfect it.



    but won't it be in the santa rosa?
  • Reply 7 of 74
    rainrain Posts: 538member
    Woo hoo... slowly going back to hard programming.

    I will always stand on my position that the Commodore 64 was the best personal computer ever.

    I used one for 11 years and NEVER lost work to a crash, or 'Application suddenly quit'.



    Eventually, we will have computers with no moving parts at all.
  • Reply 8 of 74
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rain


    Eventually, we will have computers with no moving parts at all.



    Well that part I can agree with.*



    Flash is so where it's at, only not quite today.* I'm totally getting a 16gb compact flash card to put in an IDE adapter for my PowerBook, whose hard drive has seen better days anyway.* Currently there's just not enough capacity in flash, but 16 gigs should handle Tiger / Leopard and my apps with some room for swap.* FireWire for the rest.* I'm a finnicky bugger for silence and fancy the experiment.* I dub thee "FlashBook".



    Um but yes, the extended hard drive buffer idea of Intel's is sound.* The platforms for future generations of MacBook±Pro should be pretty interesting.
  • Reply 9 of 74
    if NAND can boot programs faster than that is a huge plus, even now the new MBP takes some time to boot certain programs.



    i like the idea of NAND being used in laptops a lot, it just seems better overall.



    is there any downside to using JUST nand in the future?
  • Reply 10 of 74
    irelandireland Posts: 17,746member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rain


    Eventually, we will have computers with no moving parts at all.



    I'd say the fans will be moving for some time to come, seen as laptops are only getting hotter!
  • Reply 11 of 74
    irelandireland Posts: 17,746member
    If nand on the motherboard makes things faster, then why wouldn't they be interested in doing it with the desktops too?
  • Reply 12 of 74
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Slapping in another DRAM slot on a desktop is easier than on a notebook. DRAM is cheaper than NAND flash. If you're just going to be using it for a cache, then on a desktop, RAM is the way to go.
  • Reply 13 of 74
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Elixir


    i like the idea of NAND being used in laptops a lot, it just seems better overall.



    is there any downside to using JUST nand in the future?



    Ummm, I can think of one... CO$T
  • Reply 14 of 74
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland


    I'd say the fans will be moving for some time to come, seen as laptops are only getting hotter!



    Hmm, how about those ion cooler things? I can't remember exactly what they're called. I saw them on www.slashdot.org not too long ago. Seemed pretty cool.
  • Reply 15 of 74
    irelandireland Posts: 17,746member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bageljoey


    Ummm, I can think of one... CO$T



    Yeah that, and with Nand there's a limited amount of times you can read/write to it.

    /but they're working on that.
  • Reply 16 of 74
    AFAIK it's already part of Vista so...



    So we get Nand on the board and Nand on the hard drive. 2007 is year of the Nand!
  • Reply 17 of 74
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland


    with Nand there's a limited amount of times you can read/write to it.

    /but they're working on that.



    interesting, is it a big enough number to the point where it almost doesn't matter?
  • Reply 18 of 74
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SteveGTA


    interesting, is it a big enough number to the point where it almost doesn't matter?



    The math has been done for this *many* times. According to *their* math, it should last for quite some time. Much longer than you will probably retain the notebook. So I wouldn't worry too much.
  • Reply 19 of 74
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ecking


    It's gonna be a while until this trickles down in the consumer space.



    Probably only a high end macbook pro will have this within the next 2-3 years. And that's assuming intel has the formula right, right now. It could take intel another 1-2 years easy to perfect it.



    Don't count on it taking that long. I"ve been reading about this tech for around a year now. Not only is Intel working on it. So is every major HD manufacturer. Sansung, WD, ect, are all working on flash inbeded HDs. While intel is looking at putting the flash on the MB. I've read about prototype drives with a gig of flash on them already. The only drawback is it will require at the very minimum bios updates to existing MB's (even in the case of flash inbeded HDs to my knowledge), or possibly in some cases a new MB altogether. It is likely that we will see both, Flash inbeded MB's running Flash inbeded drives. The only question is which is faster, and how does the system decide where to store critical, heavy access files. I have read that with the larger flash drives, they will be able to almost double the battery life on some if not all portables (which will also decrease wear and improve their longevity), but also decrease power consumption on desktops (something that the corperate customers would love). This tech will be available alot sooner than 2-3 years. You'll see it in 2007.
  • Reply 20 of 74
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland


    If nand on the motherboard makes things faster, then why wouldn't they be interested in doing it with the desktops too?





    They will have it for desktops, I don't know if they will inbed it on the MB in a desktop though. But the Flash inbedded HDs will be available for desktops. We are not just talking about faster boot times, we are talking about less spin up (less noise, les drive failure), faster seek times and better/faster throughput. This stuff will speed up computing across the board. One of the big selling points for laptops though is the much improved battery life, not to mention the fact that they can charge portable customers a premium and they know we'll pay it. Can you imagine laptop with 8-10 hours on a single charge, they are not all that far off.
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