Nearly 60% of new notebooks to employ flash by late 2009

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Solid-state flash memory, which is already playing an integral role in the advancement of digital media players and mobile handsets, will claim a seat in more than 50 percent of new notebook designs by the end of 2009, says one market research firm.



Tapping its "Technology Penetration Database," El Segundo, Calif.-based iSuppli estimates that 24 million notebook PCs will be sold with some form of flash data storage by the fourth quarter of 2009, compared to a mere 143,600 that shipped with such technology during the first quarter of this year.



That means nearly 60 percent of the 40.1 million notebook shipments will have flash data storage in the fourth quarter of 2009, up from 0.7 percent in the first quarter of 2007.



Helping to spur the proliferation of flash within portable PCs is the dramatic decline in prices for NAND-type memory parts, said iSuppli. In a report released earlier this week, the firm noted that 1Gbyte of NAND flash memory was nearly 100 times as expensive as an equivalent quantity of hard disk drive (HDD) storage in 2003, but by 2009 that price gap will dwindle to a factor of slightly less than 14.



While flash is expected to remain far more expensive than HDDs for some time, other factors besides cost are compelling PC manufacturers to adopt the technology within their product designs.



"Flash-based data storage provides significant performance improvements compared to traditional rotating magnetic storage now used in notebook PCs," said analyst Matthew Wilkins. "Increased performance is achieved due to the fast read times of flash memory compared to HDDs, which reduce loading times for operating systems and applications. Flash also offers improved reliability, better shock resistance and lower power consumption compared to HDDs."



There are presently three different approaches being offered for flash data storage in PCs, each of which delivers performance improvements compared to conventional HDDs: Intel?s "Robson" technology, hybrid hard disk drives (HHDs), and solid state drives (SSDs).



According to iSuppli, ultraportable sub-notebooks and mainstream models will show similar penetration of flash data storage throughout the next two years. The firm estimates that more than half, or 54 percent, of the ultraportable PCs shipped in the fourth quarter of 2009 will use HHDs, while 28 percent will employ SSDs. Similarly, it expects 58 percent of mainstream notebooks will use HHDs, and 25 percent will use SSDs.



For its part, Apple is believed to employing a variant of Robson into an ultra-thin sub-notebook design due later this year or early next, effectively pairing a small amount of on-board NAND flash with a traditional HDD. In time, the company's MacBook lines should also gain the technology.



While it's unclear when the cost feasibility of NAND flash will allow Apple to ship a notebook employing only a SSD -- essentially data storage consisting solely of flash without the aid of a magnetic HDD -- the Mac maker appears as if it will forgo the hybrid hard disk drive approach in favor of Robson.



According to a published report last December, Apple turned down an offer to incorporate hybrid hard drives from Samsung into its systems, instead proceeding with plans to use the Intel technology.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    I understand that SSD are entirely flash based, but could someone explain the differences between HHD's and Robson HD's for me.



    What are the pro's and cons?
  • Reply 2 of 39
    bdj21yabdj21ya Posts: 297member
    As I understand it, some basic system programs are kept always in the flash allowing for faster access and lower power use. You can't always be rewriting flash memory, since it has a limited number of rewrites.



    I don't think there are any cons, other than the fact that it is newer technology so the bugs may not be completely worked out.
  • Reply 3 of 39
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Hybrid hard drives and Robson are both supposed to keep a copy of the most-used files or the first files needed by the computer that can be read while the hard drive spins up.
  • Reply 4 of 39
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,840member
    I'm all for a faster starting Mac portable, but the 'ultra-thin' part concerns me... There's a point of diminishing returns structurally, here. Computers will break and bend more often as they continue to get thinner and lighter, at least until they are manufactured with nano-engineered diamond based composites or coatings.
  • Reply 5 of 39
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    I'm all for a faster starting Mac portable, but the 'ultra-thin' part concerns me... There's a point of diminishing returns structurally, here. Computers will break and bend more often as they continue to get thinner and lighter, at least until they are manufactured with nano-engineered diamond based composites or coatings.



    I think most of the trade-offs are probably more in the form of speed to reduce power consumption, so that lighter heat sinks and smaller batteries are needed. They tend to use the smaller, thinner drives too, like the ones that are in iPods. Flash drives are certainly faster than the 1.8" drives now, at the same size too, but the clear advantage isn't quite there when compared to 2.5" drives.
  • Reply 6 of 39
    deapeajaydeapeajay Posts: 909member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    I'm all for a faster starting Mac portable, but the 'ultra-thin' part concerns me... There's a point of diminishing returns structurally, here. Computers will break and bend more often as they continue to get thinner and lighter, at least until they are manufactured with nano-engineered diamond based composites or coatings.



    people said the same thing about the iPod Nano. Afraid that it would easily snap in half. maybe if I tried hard enough I could snap it, I don't know. But it's clearly not an issue, I doubt it will be an issue with a 3/8 " thin ultra portable either.
  • Reply 7 of 39
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    Mechanical hard disks will soon be history once the first 1TB SS flash chip is released:



    http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/17907/
  • Reply 8 of 39
    eagerdragoneagerdragon Posts: 318member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    In a report released earlier this week, the firm noted that 1Gbyte of NAND flash memory was nearly 100 times as expensive as an equivalent quantity of hard disk drive (HDD) storage in 2003, but by 2009 that price gap will dwindle to a factor of slightly less than 14.



    You are free to disagree if you like:



    Some of this is wichful thinking, IMHO. The figures they are using do not seem to take into consideration that the per Gig price of hard disks is also plumenting. I absolutly do not agree on "but by 2009 that price gap will dwindle to a factor of slightly less than 14".



    Hard disk prices are really coming down, there is no way than in 2 years Nand will be only 14 times the cost of HD.



    To make a fair point I trew away priceses for desktop drives, so the ones below are for laptop drives and came from newegg.com:

    120 G - $74.99 - Cost per Gig 63 cents (rounded up)

    200 G - 159.99 - Cost per Gig 80 cents (rounded up)

    160 G - 119.99 - Cost per Gig 75 cents (rounded up)

    100 G - $89.99 - Cost per Gig 90 cents (rounded up)

    40 G - $45.99 - Cost per Gig $1.14 (rounded up)



    If you compare with a 500 G (124.99) the Per gig is 25 cents.



    These prices are coming down and bigger drives are arriving every few months.



    I group laptop users into 3 main camps:

    a) Needs reasonable disk space and is willing to deal with some weight (vast majority)

    b) Users that use the laptop as Desktop replacement

    c) Users with a need of maximum mobility



    The majority of users (IMHO) fall into the (a) category, 60 to 80 Gigs will do fine on the road with a large external drive for backups, large photo and movie libraries.



    For those in the desktop replacement camp (gamers, Photoshop, Final Cut), there is no way to replace the drive with NAND as the cost would be prohibited.



    For those in the mobility camp, they are more willing to pay a price penalty and they don't need huge amounts of diskspace with them all the time. A 32 to 64 Gig NAND can solve the problem for the mobile user.



    I agree that technoligies like Robson and others will serve the users well and at a reasonable cost per Gig, but so is additional RAM with the exception that it can not speed up the boot time (RAM), where a small NAND drive helps.



    To me speeding up the boot time would be nice, but it is just a luxury, I can wait 20 seconds to boot once or twice a week.



    I rather have 4 Gig of RAM in my laptop and better caching algorithms so I do not have to go to the disk or NAND often.



    There is also the factor of reliability, I do not know of any studies to see how different operating system do in an all NAND environment. NAND has an Issue with writes and different operating systems have different write patterns, as such NAND durability will be affected by what is being cached/stored in the NAND drives and how often it gets changed. Some will get 10 years, others 6 months.



    I think it is too early to make predictions there are too many problems to be solved.
  • Reply 9 of 39
    Does 2009 seem a little late to anyone else?



    -Clive
  • Reply 10 of 39
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zunx View Post


    Mechanical hard disks will soon be history once the first 1TB SS flash chip is released:



    http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/17907/



    That's terabit, not terabyte. Stacking eight dies on top of each other might decrease the footprint, but they still have to make eight dies, and the cost of making those dies doesn't go down just like that.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post


    Does 2009 seem a little late to anyone else?



    A little late? That's less than two years, that would comprise a practically miraculous uptake, I think it's unrealistic. It may be something done to pump up the stock price of flash makers. I haven't heard of any major new technology that goes from effectively zero to 60% of a major established market in two years, particularly in the storage market.
  • Reply 11 of 39
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    I haven't heard of any major new technology that goes from effectively zero to 60% of a major established market in two years, particularly in the storage market.



    How about DVD technology, or Plasma/LCD TV's. Sometimes when a new product is created people change to it quickly, but this isn't new technology.
  • Reply 12 of 39
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by thefunky_monkey View Post


    How about DVD technology, or Plasma/LCD TV's. Sometimes when a new product is created people change to it quickly, but this isn't new technology.



    DVD took five years to dominate, and that was a record uptake. Color plasma has been around for maybe a decade and it's still not a dominant display technology, and never will be, there are too many competitors.



    The use of flash as a primary drive is not new, but going from less than 1% to over 60% for that use in less than two years is probably unheard of in any storage technology.
  • Reply 13 of 39
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by thefunky_monkey View Post


    I understand that SSD are entirely flash based, but could someone explain the differences between HHD's and Robson HD's for me.



    Intel's Robson puts the NAND on the logic board, while the the other manufacturer's options put it with the HDD. I have yet to decide which is a better overall solution.
  • Reply 14 of 39
    deapeajaydeapeajay Posts: 909member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    DVD took five years to dominate, and that was a record uptake. Color plasma has been around for maybe a decade and it's still not a dominant display technology, and never will be, there are too many competitors.



    The use of flash as a primary drive is not new, but going from less than 1% to over 60% for that use in less than two years is probably unheard of in any storage technology.



    we're talking about Business to Business here though, not Business to Consumer. I don't think it's unrealistic. When DVD came out, it didn't take 5 years for 60% of businesses to employ the technology.
  • Reply 15 of 39
    or look at products like USB flash drives, although they were around for years before they became popular, they went from something like 5% to 95% of the population using them within about 2 years, I remember. Who knows, but it does seem a little unrealistic/optomistic. we can all dream!
  • Reply 16 of 39
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by EagerDragon View Post


    You are free to disagree if you like:



    Some of this is wichful thinking, IMHO. The figures they are using do not seem to take into consideration that the per Gig price of hard disks is also plumenting. I absolutly do not agree on "but by 2009 that price gap will dwindle to a factor of slightly less than 14".




    Flash prices have been in freefall the last couple years. I suspect that these estimates are assuming they remain in freefall through 2009.



    Typically though, it seems the flash manufactures are not targetting the HDD market as a whole but the 1.8" and 2.5" drive prices. These they have a much better shot at becomming a small multiple of the cost which would make the technical advantages outweigh the cost advantages.



    Quote:

    There is also the factor of reliability, I do not know of any studies to see how different operating system do in an all NAND environment. NAND has an Issue with writes and different operating systems have different write patterns, as such NAND durability will be affected by what is being cached/stored in the NAND drives and how often it gets changed. Some will get 10 years, others 6 months.



    I think it is too early to make predictions there are too many problems to be solved.



    NAND durability is actually pretty good and don't have the same failure modes as HDDs. You're not likely to see a flash drive fail due to excessive writes before your HDD crashes anyway. Certainly not for the 1.8" and 2.5" drive form factors.



    Between wearing algorithms and the extra blocks on flash to replace dead blocks the write life of a SSD in a mobile environment is a non-issue vs HDDs. Perhaps even on the desktop given that there is some question over the MTBF reported by HDD makers.



    And when blocks wear out the SSD doesn't crash...justs gets progressively smaller as there are more and more bad blocks.



    Add a DRAM cache and you increase lifetime even longer.



    There really aren't many issues beyond cost at the moment.



    Vinea
  • Reply 17 of 39
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    DVD took five years to dominate, and that was a record uptake. Color plasma has been around for maybe a decade and it's still not a dominant display technology, and never will be, there are too many competitors.



    The use of flash as a primary drive is not new, but going from less than 1% to over 60% for that use in less than two years is probably unheard of in any storage technology.



    Depends on the adoption rate after a critical price point is reached. Toshiba was making noises about the "tipping point" price for mass adoption in mobile computing devices...but I don't think they were saying 60%...more like 15% or something by 2009. Have to go look for it later.



    Vinea
  • Reply 18 of 39
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,472member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Clive At Five View Post


    Does 2009 seem a little late to anyone else?



    -Clive



    No. If anything, it might be a bit early.



    I agree with most of Clive's analysis. Prices will remain much higher, even though they are coming down rapidly.
  • Reply 19 of 39
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,472member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by thefunky_monkey View Post


    How about DVD technology, or Plasma/LCD TV's. Sometimes when a new product is created people change to it quickly, but this isn't new technology.



    Neither of those are even close. While DVD's are now the standard, it took a while. Plasma is just a small percentage of all Tv's.
  • Reply 20 of 39
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,472member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DeaPeaJay View Post


    we're talking about Business to Business here though, not Business to Consumer. I don't think it's unrealistic. When DVD came out, it didn't take 5 years for 60% of businesses to employ the technology.



    No one here is talking business to business except you. The article isn't either. They are saying this for all portables.
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