Apple passes on Samsung's hybrid flash technology for Macs

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Apple Computer has reportedly turned down an offer to incorporate new flash-enhanced hybrid hard drives from Samsung into its Mac computer line, likely proceeding with plans to use technology from Intel Corp. instead.



Like several other PC manufacturers, the Cupertino, Calif.-based Mac maker has been working on a next-generation notebook design that will incorporate NAND flash memory to enhance the speed of some operations while simultaneously delivering longer battery life.



Apple, as AppleInsider reported this past September, is said to be working closely with Intel on the matter, leveraging a feature of the chipmaker's upcoming Santa Rosa notebook platform dubbed Robson.



However, a report over at APC claims that somewhere along the way Apple was approached by Samsung, which pitched its own proprietary solution called flash-enhanced hybrid hard drive. The technology, due to turn up during the first quarter of next year, essentially takes the approach as Robson but integrates the flash memory into the hard disk assembly rather than on the logic-board.



"We did propose the HDD (hybrid disk drive) concept to Apple" said Chuck Kang, an engineer from Samsung's the Flash Memory Planning Group, "but Apple's opinion is that they're not going to use HDD for their systems... they won't support it".



The report, rather speculatively, implies that Apple will instead introduce systems with Intel's Robson technology "one year from the introduction" of its first Intel-based notebook, the MacBook Pro Core Duo.



"Intel will sell Robson to OEMs as a mini-card module or a kit of components which can be mounted directly onto the motherboard," according to the report. "Santa Rosa's Crestline chipset will act as traffic cop, coordinating Robson's flow of bits over the PCI Express bus."



Robson is expected to be available in modules starting at 256MB for around $20 and ranging up to 512MB, 1GB and 2GB.



At Intel's fall developer forum, chief executive Paul Otellini spoke at length about the technology and offered some early benchmarks for Robson-enabled notebooks. 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 sleep.
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 55
    Well, I don't think Apple would refuse the technology altogether, and using Robson and Samsung's Hybrid would be two redundant processes, which amounts to one being a complete waste of energy. This report excludes the possibility of Samsung being the provider, so I think it's logical to conclude that Apple will be utilizing Robson and teh Santa Rosa platform.



    (first post?)



    -Clive
  • Reply 2 of 55
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Just for competition's sake, I hope to read soon that AMD will be adopting a similar platform.
  • Reply 3 of 55
    crees!crees! Posts: 501member
    Quote:

    The report, rather speculatively, implies that Apple will instead introduce systems with Intel's Robson technology "one year from the introduction" of its first Intel-based notebook, the MacBook Pro Core Duo.



    That would be MWSF then, correct?
  • Reply 4 of 55
    iPhone.



  • Reply 5 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by crees! View Post


    That would be MWSF then, correct?



    eh... doubtfull. Apple just released new MBPs and MBs in late October & early November, respectively. My guess is that they'll probably wait until late Q1'07 or early Q2'07.



    Also, the average cycle for MBPs so far (according to the Mac Rumor's Buyer's Guide) is just shy of 150, i.e. about 5 months. That'll put us at late March, early April.



    -Clive
  • Reply 6 of 55
    I mean I could be wrong but weren't MacBook Pro's released Jan 10, 2006? By the reasoning of the quote in the article that would make 1 year just a couple weeks away. Granted in all actuality March, like you said, would probably more expected.
  • Reply 7 of 55
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post


    eh... doubtfull. Apple just released new MBPs and MBs in late October & early November, respectively. My guess is that they'll probably wait until late Q1'07 or early Q2'07.



    Also, the average cycle for MBPs so far (according to the Mac Rumor's Buyer's Guide) is just shy of 150, i.e. about 5 months. That'll put us at late March, early April.



    The upgrade cycle time can vary a lot, but April is about the time that the Intel Santa Rosa mobile platform will be available to the public.
  • Reply 8 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Just for competition's sake, I hope to read soon that AMD will be adopting a similar platform.



    This is a chipset level technology so nvidia and ati need to work on it.



    also what about desktops and the mac pro?
  • Reply 9 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by crees! View Post


    I mean I could be wrong but weren't MacBook Pro's released Jan 10, 2006? By the reasoning of the quote in the article that would make 1 year just a couple weeks away. Granted in all actuality March, like you said, would probably more expected.



    Yeah, you could definitely be right. It wouldn't be the first time Apple rolled out a pro notebook update in short order. There was one a couple years about where 2 or months elapsed between updates. Plus, Intel moves out chips faster than Apple is used to. Speaking of which, has Intel even announced the product or given an release date? As far as I am aware, they have not. That's kind of a serious checkpoint before Apple releasing a product. Another serious checkpoint is beginning manufacturing.



    So unless Intel has officially announced the product and Apple has recieved sizable quantities of the chips (and Robson components) and begun production... since I haven't heard about either of these events, I would say chances are slim. But then again when do we ever know about Apple's production pipeline? Never. Maybe we'll be surprised, but with the available evidence, it doesn't look to promising.



    -Clive
  • Reply 10 of 55
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Joe_the_dragon View Post


    This is a chipset level technology so nvidia and ati need to work on it.



    also what about desktops and the mac pro?



    Power isn't as much of a concern there. Also, desktop hard drives are usually a lot faster than notebook drives, so there may be zero speed advantage to using flash drives except for the more unusual desktops like the mini.
  • Reply 11 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Just for competition's sake, I hope to read soon that AMD will be adopting a similar platform.



    You bring up an interesting point. If this becomes a chipset feature across the board, it'll basically render NAND hybrid HDDs useless... unless there's some way to make the technology in one complimentary to the other, rather than redundant.



    -Clive
  • Reply 12 of 55
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post


    You bring up an interesting point. If this becomes a chipset feature across the board, it'll basically render NAND hybrid HDDs useless... unless there's some way to make the technology in one complimentary to the other, rather than redundant.



    One would probably make the other unnecessary unless the OS can use both at the same time to enlarge the capacity. I think the OS would have to specifically support this to work this way.



    If it's mutually exclusive, then which to chose depends on the performance, cost, space and so on. I think it may be the case where the hard drive is more easily upgraded than the Robson module, and it may be less complicated final assembly too vs. a Robson module, but Robson can be soldered-on too. Extra modules would be undesirable when the space/volume budget is so tight.
  • Reply 13 of 55
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by crees! View Post


    I mean I could be wrong but weren't MacBook Pro's released Jan 10, 2006? By the reasoning of the quote in the article that would make 1 year just a couple weeks away. Granted in all actuality March, like you said, would probably more expected.



    The Intel iMacs were released at last years MWSF, while the 15" MBPs were merely available for pre-order. I believe it wasn't until late February before the MBPs were being shipped.
  • Reply 14 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    Power isn't as much of a concern there. Also, desktop hard drives are usually a lot faster than notebook drives, so there may be zero speed advantage to using flash drives except for the more unusual desktops like the mini.



    I wouldn't say that there wouldn't be a speed advantage, because there would, actually. It's like you said, though, that 1) HDDs in desktops have faster read times so the technology isn't as needed and 2) desktops are plugged into the wall so power consumption isn't as much of a concern.



    -Clive
  • Reply 15 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    I think it may be the case where the hard drive is more easily upgraded than the Robson module,



    yeah... but I'd hesitate throwing out a HDD simply for better perfomance.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    and it may be less complicated final assembly too.



    Certainly.



    I wonder, thuogh, how these NAND hybrid HDDs would respond to being in a RAID. Can NAND flash be "striped" in the same way, or would it even be needed? I mean, NAND procures data instantly. Maybe I'm missing what the actual purpose of the NAND modules is. I was under the impression that they are like a mini-RAM for the HDD... which if placed in line with a RAID, probably wouldn't help matters that much.



    Any thoughts on that?



    -Clive
  • Reply 16 of 55
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post


    yeah... but I'd hesitate throwing out a HDD simply for better perfomance.



    Who said anything about dumping it and that's the only reason to upgrade? It would be good for Optibay, or put in an external enclosure for backup storage and so on. I usually keep the upgraded components around in case I need to restore stock configuration in case it ever needs service by Apple.



    Isn't upgrading the drive better than having to trade up the entire computer? If in a year or so you need a larger hard drive, you can upgrade it and get a bigger flash module for a double whammy boost in performance and a much larger drive too.



    Quote:

    wonder, thuogh, how these NAND hybrid HDDs would respond to being in a RAID. Can NAND flash be "striped" in the same way, or would it even be needed? I mean, NAND procures data instantly. Maybe I'm missing what the actual purpose of the NAND modules is. I was under the impression that they are like a mini-RAM for the HDD... which if placed in line with a RAID, probably wouldn't help matters that much.



    Flash memory still isn't as fast as you seem to think. The latency is a lot lower, but the bandwidth is lower too, the fastest flash card I've seen was rated 72x the speed of CD-ROM. You could RAID flash drives, but that's expensive storage.
  • Reply 17 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Just for competition's sake, I hope to read soon that AMD will be adopting a similar platform.



    Due to the fact that a technology such as Robson needs to be supported by the OS and AMD's processors are not used in Macs but Windows-based computers, an AMD-based box running Windows Vista will have support for a similar technology that Microsoft calls ReadyDrive.
  • Reply 18 of 55
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post


    I wonder, thuogh, how these NAND hybrid HDDs would respond to being in a RAID. Can NAND flash be "striped" in the same way, or would it even be needed? I mean, NAND procures data instantly. Maybe I'm missing what the actual purpose of the NAND modules is. I was under the impression that they are like a mini-RAM for the HDD... which if placed in line with a RAID, probably wouldn't help matters that much.



    Any thoughts on that?



    -Clive



    This does seem to add a good deal of complexity to a RAID setup, but it may be as simple as adding a marker to the original data on the HDD that resides on the NAND, in case it ever needs to rebuild itself. Then again, since this NAND/HDD hybrid will be primarily used in notebooks--where RAIDs are not commonplace--this may not be much of an issue at all.
  • Reply 19 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post


    You bring up an interesting point. If this becomes a chipset feature across the board, it'll basically render NAND hybrid HDDs useless... unless there's some way to make the technology in one complimentary to the other, rather than redundant.



    -Clive



    Well Samsung could sell Hybrid drives to retro-fit in laptops that don't have the Robson chipset.



    Hmm my TiBook could do with a new hard drive...
  • Reply 20 of 55
    eckingecking Posts: 1,588member
    I makes sense that they'd pass on samsung's tech because that sounds like they'd only be able to offer samsung hard drives, whereas this keeps them open to use whomever they like especially when you consider how crazy fast 2.5" drives are growing.



    What I wonder however is if the samsung method could be useful to those of us that have the first two revs of mbs and mbps. But if apple "won't support it" it sounds like it'd void my warranty.
Sign In or Register to comment.