PDA

View Full Version : Flash Based Apple Laptops... Again




MacRumors
Mar 8, 2007, 02:38 PM
http://www.macrumors.com/images/macrumorsthreadlogo.gif (http://www.macrumors.com)

Reuters reports (http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=technologyNews&storyid=2007-03-08T192911Z_01_N08221087_RTRUKOC_0_US-APPLE-MEMORY.xml&WTmodLoc=NewsArt-R2-Today-11) on recent predictions made by Analyst Shaw Wu (http://guides.macrumors.com/Shaw_Wu_%28Analyst%29).

Wu revivies rumors that Apple will be incoporating Flash memory into upcoming notebook computers.

The maker of the popular iPod music player and Macintosh computers hopes to introduce so-called flash memory in small computers known as subnotebooks in the second half of 2007

Advantages of the use of Flash memory would be longer battery lives and shorter startup times. According to Wu, Apple is waiting for flash memory prices to decline but are otherwise ready to launch.

Rumors of an upcoming flash based subnotebook (http://www.macrumors.com/2007/02/16/apple-sub-notebook-nearing-release/) have been circulating for months. Another analyst (Benjamin Reitzes) (http://www.macrumors.com/2006/06/15/apple-planning-ultra-portable/) mentioned this possibility back in June 2006.



balamw
Mar 8, 2007, 02:40 PM
In possibly related news. Samsung is reportedly shipping hybrid HDDs with flash to OEMs http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,2101571,00.asp The flash is mainly seen as a write cache.

B

Stridder44
Mar 8, 2007, 02:40 PM
Ill believe it when I see it.

xenotaku
Mar 8, 2007, 02:42 PM
I'm iffy about this. It seems like it has the potential to be a weak powered machine, small flash drive (32gigs), and a hefty price tag.

However, it somehow they get 100gigs of flash memory and the power of current macbook pros...all in a small package...now that would be awesome.

lorductape
Mar 8, 2007, 02:45 PM
i'm getting so fed up of all these flash based rumors, that the announcement is going to come, and i'll see the words "flash based" in the title somewhere, and i just won't read it

Maccus Aurelius
Mar 8, 2007, 02:46 PM
This will eventually happen, and it could even take the form of flash hybrid HDD's. That alone would boost performance and boot time. Eventually laptops will move on to solid state drives. Rotating media will eventually be defunct, but not until it's one day successor is cheaper per gig of capacity and provide similar, equal or better capacity overall. So long as one can't buy a 100-200GB SSD drive for their laptop without spending a ludicrous amount of money rotating media will remain to fill that gap.

Flash is getting cheaper, and it probably won't take that long until they reach the practicality levels of the current standard and offer decent prices. The benefits of this kind of technology is not something that'll be passed over just to hold onto our spinning platters. I'll be buying an all flash macbook pro as soon as the price is right

sergeantmudd
Mar 8, 2007, 02:46 PM
I wonder what percent of the flash market Apple buys.

mtrctyjoe
Mar 8, 2007, 02:46 PM
I just wonder how they will price these? Between the lowend Macbook $1099 and the iPhone? Maybe $899ish, but this seems to high?

I just don't see it fitting in anywhere..... :confused:

iMikeT
Mar 8, 2007, 02:50 PM
More and more rumors about a sub-notebook... Isn't this where the iPhone comes in?

hd78
Mar 8, 2007, 02:50 PM
I just wonder how they will price these? Between the lowend Macbook $1099 and the iPhone? Maybe $899ish, but this seems to high?

I just don't see it fitting in anywhere..... :confused:

I don't think it will be cheap. It may be smaller in size, but it wont be smaller in price since it has better/more expensive technology

mtrctyjoe
Mar 8, 2007, 02:50 PM
Maybe these will be a WiFi Controler for your Mac? Like a remote control with a screen to allow you access to everything on your MAC from anywhere on the network, with some reduced functionality when off of a network? That could be sweet... but I still can not figure out the pricing.

hd78
Mar 8, 2007, 02:51 PM
12" MacBook Pro with flash HDD would be nice.

koobcamuk
Mar 8, 2007, 02:52 PM
This will eventually happen, and it could even take the form of flash hybrid HDD's. That alone would boost performance and boot time. Eventually laptops will move on to solid state drives. Rotating media will eventually be defunct, but not until it's one day successor is cheaper per gig of capacity and provide similar, equal or better capacity overall. So long as one can't buy a 100-200GB SSD drive for their laptop without spending a ludicrous amount of money rotating media will remain to fill that gap.

Flash is getting cheaper, and it probably won't take that long until they reach the practicality levels of the current standard and offer decent prices. The benefits of this kind of technology is not something that'll be passed over just to hold onto our spinning platters. I'll be buying an all flash macbook pro as soon as the price is right

Agreed - but remember DVDs are not cheaper than tapes but people still buy them... I think if the HD is so fast due to flash - people will buy it and use external firewire/usb 500GB HDD to store media and the like. Even a firewire portable drive of 120GB is 'cheapish'.

Maccus Aurelius
Mar 8, 2007, 02:52 PM
Pricing isn't exactly everything. People who need to do pro work but have a mobile workstation will not buy a macbook or sub-notebook. The hardware limitations and the sheer size will turn them away. A subnotebook sounds terribly expensive too. All of the itzy bitzy notebooks I've seen were priced higher than a midrange Macbook Pro, yet didn't provide as much hardware capability. You pay dearly for that nice lilliputian computer, and don't expect Apple to build one and suddenly sell it cheaper than any macbook.

mattscott306
Mar 8, 2007, 02:52 PM
I think we'll see a flash based vPod before we see one of these babies. JMO

mtrctyjoe
Mar 8, 2007, 02:53 PM
12" MacBook Pro with flash HDD would be nice.


That would mak for a lot of flash memory $$$$$$$$ to put it in the Pro catagory!

Maccus Aurelius
Mar 8, 2007, 02:59 PM
Agreed - but remember DVDs are not cheaper than tapes but people still buy them... I think if the HD is so fast due to flash - people will buy it and use external firewire/usb 500GB HDD to store media and the like. Even a firewire portable drive of 120GB is 'cheapish'.

But with DVD's, the benefits compared to the initial costs are much much greater. VHS has a much shorter lifespan, has poorer quality and is just a far bulkier form of media storage. At the same time, DVD's are far more versatile, since DVD-R's can be used as storage media for portable computer systems. SSD's, as far as I can tell, won't actually give you a better experience beyond speed, but the current trade offs are not worth mass adoption. With DVD's, the extra cost was and is a small price to pay for a superior product.

With SSD's, the benefits to the cost are not really on the mark yet. Sure you get great performance, but the storage limitations will take you right back to the computers of yesteryear that only had a few GB for you to play around with, while your high bit rate movies, processor and storage hungry applications and big music and image libraries consume what little space you're given for the high price.

KindredMAC
Mar 8, 2007, 03:00 PM
Maybe the Flash based media will make it into the much anticipated PowerBook G5's!

Maccus Aurelius
Mar 8, 2007, 03:02 PM
Now, what I'd love to see are high capacity flash based network drives with very long life spans. I have no qualms with an inexpensive rotating drive if it's constantly being backed up by a solid device that keeps a record of all my data.

Peace
Mar 8, 2007, 03:03 PM
I'm getting fed up with speculation.Period.

Come on Steve!! It's time to let the cat out of the bag!!

syklee26
Mar 8, 2007, 03:07 PM
just about how much battery saving and how much faster of startup are we talking about here?

Maccus Aurelius
Mar 8, 2007, 03:07 PM
I think people are too impatient with this kind of stuff. It's like all of your computers are suddenly sputtering and falling apart and Steve is sitting there twiddling his fingers. :rolleyes:

A flash based notebook is probably not going to come out for a while, especially from Apple. If they're wise, and I'm banking on the assumption that they are, they'd hold out until the tech is cheap enough to offer a good solid performer so they don't end up with a very competent commercial failure because of a high price that upsets perceived quality.

Maccus Aurelius
Mar 8, 2007, 03:09 PM
just about how much battery saving and how much faster of startup are we talking about here?

It would probably only take a couple of seconds to boot into the full desktop as standard drives have to spool up and compile the data beforehand. Think less than half the time it takes for present macs to boot.

The battery time could possibly be improved by an additional few hours since the actual rotating media sucks up quite a bit of juice. If you watch movies on the road with your laptop you could probably get a good 5-6 hours depending on display settings instead of the 2 1/2-3 that one gets with a macbook watching a movie in H.264.

belovedmonster
Mar 8, 2007, 03:09 PM
When I think about these subnotebook things I always imaged them as being as underpowered, but in a good way. I dont wanna lug around a bulky heavy laptop that can render iMovies when I just wanna write plain text and check my email, what I want is something super small, and cheap. Basically I want something that is a pencil and paper replacement, not a desktop multimedia computer replacement. When I go to class I take a pad of lined paper and a pen, that's all i want to recreate in electronic form. I don't need or want to carry a proper computer around.

roland.g
Mar 8, 2007, 03:12 PM
With the cost of flash memory, couldn't they put 8GB flash in there for OS and Apps and a 1.8" or 2.5" drive for data. Quick boot, less power draw for OS and Apps, accesses drive only for other data, swaps open docs, files, etc to flash while in use, writes to drive upon save/close.

AliensAreFuzzy
Mar 8, 2007, 03:13 PM
I hope this is true. For my next round of computers in a year or so, I want to get a subnotebook and a Mac Pro. That way I'll have the portability, but also power. Right now I find myself using my MBP as a desktop replacement. Sometimes I'll want to run somewhere with it but I have to unhook the external monitor, external drives, speakers, eSATA card. Overall, it's just a big hassle. I need something that I can always keep as sometime to just "grab and go".

Maccus Aurelius
Mar 8, 2007, 03:18 PM
You just described my macbook :D

Poff
Mar 8, 2007, 03:20 PM
Whenever this comes out, I'll be a happy camper..

Avatar74
Mar 8, 2007, 03:23 PM
i'm getting so fed up of all these flash based rumors, that the announcement is going to come, and i'll see the words "flash based" in the title somewhere, and i just won't read it

You just did. :D

Poff
Mar 8, 2007, 03:25 PM
12" MacBook Pro with flash HDD would be nice.

nonono... 10" widescreen and no keyboard. I hope.

I would hook it up to a screen and use bluetooth peripherals at work, and I'd use multi-touch on the road. yeah!

Maybe the Flash based media will make it into the much anticipated PowerBook G5's!

nope, sorry, my powerbook G5 just has a plain, old harddrive..

Rocketman
Mar 8, 2007, 03:30 PM
I wonder what percent of the flash market Apple buys.

A big percent. Apple has supply agreements with substantial ($100m+) cash deposits with at least three major flash suppliers.

I wonder if this rumor is related to combo flash and HD MacBooks, or if this is really a next-gen iPhone slightly larger (ATNN). The timing could indicate post iPhone release or merely post Santa Rosa.

Rocketman

dontmatter
Mar 8, 2007, 03:34 PM
Agreed - but remember DVDs are not cheaper than tapes but people still buy them... I think if the HD is so fast due to flash - people will buy it and use external firewire/usb 500GB HDD to store media and the like. Even a firewire portable drive of 120GB is 'cheapish'.

Nope. If it's SMALL enough, it'll catch on.

askthedust
Mar 8, 2007, 03:34 PM
Yeah that's the problem the subnotebook ends up being more expensive than the 12 inch or the same price.

I am looking for an update to my 12inch powerbook. not a macbook. macbook pro would be nice. or a subnote that had a flash scratch disk built in or card slot for mobile designers.... SSD are certainly the wave of the future but at least 8mos to 1.5 years away before they are large enough and cheap enough to make their way into consumer (read 3500 or less price range) models.

dvader
Mar 8, 2007, 03:38 PM
A flash based notebook is probably not going to come out for a while, especially from Apple. If they're wise, and I'm banking on the assumption that they are, they'd hold out until the tech is cheap enough to offer a good solid performer so they don't end up with a very competent commercial failure because of a high price that upsets perceived quality.
What are the so-called experts predicting? I heard 2-3 years (i.e. 2009-10). I don't doubt that flash-based drives are the way of the future, but now it's just a matter of when it'll be cheap and reliable enough for us.

thisonechance
Mar 8, 2007, 03:40 PM
I don't think we will see full flash-based mobiles for some time yet.

I do, however, believe we will see a small amount of flash memory along with the standard 2.5 drives.

You won't be able to utilize the flash memory as the OS will dynamically control what uses flash and what uses the hdd.

I would imagine the OS will use the flash memory or the program in use at any time.

Just my two cents.

princealfie
Mar 8, 2007, 03:43 PM
I wantta this machine! :p

shelterpaw
Mar 8, 2007, 03:46 PM
I hope this is true. For my next round of computers in a year or so, I want to get a subnotebook and a Mac Pro. That way I'll have the portability, but also power. Right now I find myself using my MBP as a desktop replacement. Sometimes I'll want to run somewhere with it but I have to unhook the external monitor, external drives, speakers, eSATA card. Overall, it's just a big hassle. I need something that I can always keep as sometime to just "grab and go".I hear that one. I bought the Mac Pro 3.0 and am using my PowerBook G4 as my portable, but I'm waiting for an Intel based alternative that's super light, fast and portable.

shelterpaw
Mar 8, 2007, 03:48 PM
I don't think we will see full flash-based mobiles for some time yet.

I do, however, believe we will see a small amount of flash memory along with the standard 2.5 drives.

You won't be able to utilize the flash memory as the OS will dynamically control what uses flash and what uses the hdd.

I would imagine the OS will use the flash memory or the program in use at any time.

Just my two cents. You can force a swap drive to use a Solid State Drive. So you have some control over the OS. It would be a speedy scratch disk for PhotoShop as well. ;)

Maccus Aurelius
Mar 8, 2007, 03:51 PM
What are the so-called experts predicting? I heard 2-3 years (i.e. 2009-10). I don't doubt that flash-based drives are the way of the future, but now it's just a matter of when it'll be cheap and reliable enough for us.

Experts..pfffff. They can predict all they like until more companies actually produce products that completely bunk up their time frames. It will get cheaper and more reliable, and I think that we'll get a healthy middle ground before then in the form of hybrid drives. They have a much longer lifespan than regular HDD's.

Clive At Five
Mar 8, 2007, 03:58 PM
OMG, doesn't Shaw Wu ever shut the hell up? I'm so sick of his constant misinformed "speculation." Take this for example: Wu says "1GB = $5 so 32GB = $160" WRONG. That statement is only true if you want 32 independent 1GB NAND units! By that time, we're talking two times thicker than the Zune (for an iPod or iPhone). If you want a single 32GB NAND unit, expect to pay well over $500.

And why the hell would apple want to make a Sub-Notebook over a tablet, especially with their "undercarriage optical bay" patent? It doesn't make sense to lift up the unit to put in a CD/DVD. A tablet is simple: you keep holding it in your hand, rotate your wrist, insert media with your other hand and unrotate your wrist.

Secondly, Apple would not have spent all this time and research developing their multi-touch interface if they were going to banish it away to only the iPhone. It doesn't make sense in a laptop or desktop (who wants to reach out and touch their screen or try to balance a laptop in one arm as they carry it around everywhere?). A tablet is MUCH easier to tote, is lightweight, has no moving parts (hinges! YIKES!), flip it over, throw in a CD, etc.

Shaw Wu has overstayed his welcome as a Wall-Street "analyst." Guess what? I'm an analyst too because I think about the situation and the most logical progression for Apple to make given their technology. I can say right now that Apple's next portable is more likely to be a tablet than a "sub-notebook."

DISCLAIMER: For all you flamers who are eager to tell me that I don't know Apple's plans, I can only say that you're right. I don't. But niether does Shaw Wu. If anything, I know more about Apple than he does. Plus he has the reduced credibility factor of likely owning loads of Apple stock. I, on the other hand, don't own a single share. It's not in my interest to either trash talk or promote Apple Inc.

So to all you potential flamers, I don't want to hear it. Why don't you dish it at Shaw Wu instead?

-Clive

Spectrum
Mar 8, 2007, 04:00 PM
When I think about these subnotebook things I always imaged them as being as underpowered, but in a good way. I dont wanna lug around a bulky heavy laptop that can render iMovies when I just wanna write plain text and check my email, what I want is something super small, and cheap. Basically I want something that is a pencil and paper replacement, not a desktop multimedia computer replacement. When I go to class I take a pad of lined paper and a pen, that's all i want to recreate in electronic form. I don't need or want to carry a proper computer around.

This is EXACTLY what Apple should make.

<3lb. 12" LED screen. Full size PB class keyboard. And not much else.

Neil4512
Mar 8, 2007, 04:06 PM
With the cost of flash memory, couldn't they put 8GB flash in there for OS and Apps and a 1.8" or 2.5" drive for data. Quick boot, less power draw for OS and Apps, accesses drive only for other data, swaps open docs, files, etc to flash while in use, writes to drive upon save/close.

I think this is totally the way to go as a first move in flash based laptops. Dump the optical drive and offer a usb solution for the instances when you need it, spinning media is brutal on battery life and doesn't make sense to me on such a device. I think such a device would be perfect for email/surfing/office, and you could still use the 1.8 or 2.5 drive for storage for itunes or whatever other storage heavy media you want to have with you.

~Shard~
Mar 8, 2007, 04:07 PM
Very cool potential here. I wonder when we'll see these bad boys in the marketplace though? We're buying a new MacBook/MBP once iLife 07 and Leopard are released (along with a refresh to the product line, whenever that happens) but I don't think the incorporation of flash will be coming quite soon enough for us to take advantage of it. ;) :cool:

Cinch
Mar 8, 2007, 04:10 PM
When I think about these subnotebook things I always imaged them as being as underpowered, but in a good way. I dont wanna lug around a bulky heavy laptop that can render iMovies when I just wanna write plain text and check my email, what I want is something super small, and cheap. Basically I want something that is a pencil and paper replacement, not a desktop multimedia computer replacement. When I go to class I take a pad of lined paper and a pen, that's all i want to recreate in electronic form. I don't need or want to carry a proper computer around.


I'm in total agreement except for the part about being "cheap". Apple don't make products that look "cheap"; Dell, Gateway and HP got this market covered. I know you meant price here, but if Apple makes a stylish subnotbook, it will be priced what the market will pay.

Yeah, most of us just want a laptop that can do Microsoft Office, Safari and iTunes. Make a portable device that can do this well and get 6+ hours of battery time would be wonderful.

B. Hunter
Mar 8, 2007, 04:11 PM
Enough already!
Come on Apple, do the right thing.
Announce a sub-notebook or 12" MBP soon!:apple:

Don't let Paul Allen take the spotlight.
http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/venture/archives/112378.asp?source=rss
http://www.flipstartpc.com/

Clive At Five
Mar 8, 2007, 04:11 PM
On the future of flash:

I don't doubt, though, that in a few years (~2009+) flash will be a more viable HD option. Even in the near future, Santa Rosa is looming which integrates flash optimization in the system. So basically this who post is a no-brianer. The thing that irritates me is that Shaw Wu is coming in and saying it like he's a revolutionary or has some secret source inside Apple.

Anyone who knows anything about technology knows that flash is becoming more and more important. So for Shaw Wu to say this is like saying, "I will breathe at some point today." It's a gigantic "DUH!"

As for all-flash HDs, I must have seen that idea on this website at least a year ago. Seriously, that must be all Shaw Wu does: peruse rumor sites and regurgitate obvious rumors built from MacRumors posts. That, and he's trying to tell people what they want to hear (not necessarily what's true)... and claiming he got it from the source. In reality, his source is the internet, and he doesn't have any more info than we do.

Shaw Wu's credibility is 1... on a scale of 100.

-Clive

Clive At Five
Mar 8, 2007, 04:18 PM
Enough already!
Come on Apple, do the right thing.
Announce a sub-notebook or 12" MBP soon!:apple:

Don't let Paul Allen take the spotlight.
http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/venture/archives/112378.asp?source=rss
http://www.flipstartpc.com/

Are you serious?? That thing couldn't run Vista any better than my Performa 630CD. 1.1 GHz Pentium M... 512 MB of RAM. Yeah right. And what a lame HD. 30 GB? Just another over-priced, underpowered toy for rich identity-crisis'd execs.

-Clive

cwoloszynski
Mar 8, 2007, 04:22 PM
I think people are too impatient with this kind of stuff. It's like all of your computers are suddenly sputtering and falling apart and Steve is sitting there twiddling his fingers. :rolleyes:

A flash based notebook is probably not going to come out for a while, especially from Apple. If they're wise, and I'm banking on the assumption that they are, they'd hold out until the tech is cheap enough to offer a good solid performer so they don't end up with a very competent commercial failure because of a high price that upsets perceived quality.

Before everyone throws out the HDD for FLASH, remember that FLASH is slow to write (good for persistent cache, not for dynamic files) and can only be erased/re-written a finite number of times (kinda like battery charges).

I think the hybrid HDD is the path we'll see, but the logic of what to put in FLASH will be under the control of the OS, not the HDD designer.

dvader
Mar 8, 2007, 04:24 PM
On the future of flash:

I don't doubt, though, that in a few years (~2009+) flash will be a more viable HD option. Even in the near future, Santa Rosa is looming which integrates flash optimization in the system. So basically this who post is a no-brianer. The thing that irritates me is that Shaw Wu is coming in and saying it like he's a revolutionary or has some secret source inside Apple.

Anyone who knows anything about technology knows that flash is becoming more and more important. So for Shaw Wu to say this is like saying, "I will breathe at some point today." It's a gigantic "DUH!"

As for all-flash HDs, I must have seen that idea on this website at least a year ago. Seriously, that must be all Shaw Wu does: peruse rumor sites and regurgitate obvious rumors built from MacRumors posts. That, and he's trying to tell people what they want to hear (not necessarily what's true)... and claiming he got it from the source. In reality, his source is the internet, and he doesn't have any more info than we do.

Shaw Wu's credibility is 1... on a scale of 100.

-Clive
I hope Shaw Wu doesn't read your comment. He'll probably get :mad:

Clive At Five
Mar 8, 2007, 04:29 PM
I think this is totally the way to go as a first move in flash based laptops. Dump the optical drive and offer a usb solution for the instances when you need it, spinning media is brutal on battery life and doesn't make sense to me on such a device.

I've been saying for YEARS that optical media is totally archaic. It's fragile, slow and EXPENSIVE (for higher capacities). I can't imagine anything more barbaric than a freaking CD. Additionally, I can't believe that after 80 years, we're still spinning our media. Films, Tapes, Hard Drives, CDs, DVDs, and now BluRay/HD-DVD. I say invest 95% into solid state and push capacities beyond that of these spinning medias. Bring down the price, increase the reliability. Everybody wins.

...except Seagate.

-Clive

Clive At Five
Mar 8, 2007, 04:33 PM
I hope Shaw Wu doesn't read your comment. He'll probably get :mad:

On the contrary. I hope he does. His ass needs to be humbled.

-Clive

eenu
Mar 8, 2007, 04:39 PM
With the cost of flash memory, couldn't they put 8GB flash in there for OS and Apps and a 1.8" or 2.5" drive for data. Quick boot, less power draw for OS and Apps, accesses drive only for other data, swaps open docs, files, etc to flash while in use, writes to drive upon save/close.

That is the intention. Why on earth people are moaning about how their laptops wont have much space because of flash limitations is a load of crap at this point.

The initial concept is to use flash based memory to boot and do the menial tasks to avoid the spool up and down of the drives and thus reducing wear and gaining battery life. There will be an additional traditional drive in their for the data.

Sure that will change over time as flash based memory prices and sizes changed but at this point in time it appears the majority of the people on this thread have missed the point!

zblaxberg
Mar 8, 2007, 04:43 PM
ok so I don't exactly understand how flash based laptops work. Can someone either give me a crash course or lead me to something that explains it. Would the laptop still have ram and flash memory? Would the ram be removed and flash memory is placed in the laptops instead? I have no clue how it would boot faster and save battery life...someone please help:rolleyes:

roland.g
Mar 8, 2007, 04:46 PM
ok so I don't exactly understand how flash based laptops work. Can someone either give me a crash course or lead me to something that explains it. Would the laptop still have ram and flash memory? Would the ram be removed and flash memory is placed in the laptops instead? I have no clue how it would boot faster and save battery life...someone please help:rolleyes:

Just like Nanos vs. video iPod, you get longer battery life out of a device that accesses data from a flash drive because it doesn't have any moving parts. Hard drives take more energy and longer read times because of the moving parts. The flash replaces the hard drive and not the RAM.

Rocketman
Mar 8, 2007, 04:53 PM
On the contrary. I hope he does. His ass needs to be humbled.

-Clive

I think you are right, if a bit assertive in your presentation :)

Flash is just now starting to ship at 16gb which means it will take MONTHS to experience its first price drop from bleeding edge user price to premium application price. Apple typically comes in shortly after that point and does a supply agreement with a huge cash deposit and "averages down" its cost and the contract allows Apple to immediately capture any unexpected price drops. They cited that in 1Q07 results in January.

Seagate has announced 1.8" 120gb microdrives.

The "next iPhone" (ATNN) with a larger display and possibly an optical drive could easily have flash+HDD+wireless broadband.

802.11a/b/g/n of course, but how about 802.16 wimax?

Companies, cities, and even some cell companies are preparing for a massive wimax rollout (wireless broadband internet with ranges similar to analog cellular). 6G.

By the time the Tablet device we are discussing is shipping in quantity, it could maybe be as early as Christmas 07 (11-23-07) but more likely early 08. We'll see.

By then wimax will have been deployed to some degree in most big cities. You know, where Apple stores are located.

I hope to see that. Then the pressure to have significant "local storage" or HDD or flash is substantially reduced by immediate access via broadband to your server, Apple's server, Google's server, FROM ANYWHERE.

Rocketman

Clive At Five
Mar 8, 2007, 05:04 PM
ok so I don't exactly understand how flash based laptops work. Can someone either give me a crash course or lead me to something that explains it. Would the laptop still have ram and flash memory? Would the ram be removed and flash memory is placed in the laptops instead? I have no clue how it would boot faster and save battery life...someone please help:rolleyes:

Roland.g has half of the picture right.

"Flash" (NAND Flash, Flash drives, etc) can be considered cousins of RAM, both of which reside in the solid-state storage family. Solid-state is fast because, as others have said, it does not require spinning up to speed and searching for bits of data on a platter. With a solid-state chip one applies voltages on certain leads of the chip, and, accordingly, a bit associated with that combination of input leads is "released" on output leads. So, basically, to run a solid-state chip, you apply a bunch of different combinations of voltages across the chip, and different voltages are spit out at (and interpreted by) the processor. The speed of accessing these bits is limited only by the clock speed of your system and the "slew rate" (time it takes to change voltage from 'on' to 'off' or vice versa) of the components used.

Of course, that is the very simplistic view of solid-state chips. As increasing capacity and other factors become involved, the equation becomes much more complicated, and things slow down. I don't know much about that. I only took entry-level circuits ;).

How this applies to how your computer runs:

Your computer's HD has a boot-sector. That is the information used by the computer required to start up and launch an OS. Since this is typically stored on a regular HD, it takes time to spin through and read all the necessary bits of info. If the boot sector was located on a solid-state chip, boot times *could* be near instantaneous - limiting factors would be the internal bus speeds and crap like that.

What others have said, however, is right: solid-state reliability wears down over time, much like a recharable battery. Improvements have been made, but greater strides must be taken, still, before we convert solely to flash. There are millions of tiny read/writes that occur when we use our PCs, and flash memory can't quite handle that yet.

Hope this helps!

Anyone else, please correct me where I may have misspoken.

-Clive

tilman
Mar 8, 2007, 05:13 PM
I wonder what percent of the flash market Apple buys.

The total market for flash memory in 2006 was around $17 billion.

nagromme
Mar 8, 2007, 05:14 PM
Small size has high value for me. If flash allows something even thinner, I'm willing to pay for that. I'm willing to accept being unable to transport 100s of GB of my accumulated data, even. 32 GB is usable, especially if upgradable.

dvader
Mar 8, 2007, 05:17 PM
What others have said, however, are right: solid-state reliability wears down over time, much like a recharable battery. Improvements have been made, but greater strides must be taken, still, before we convert solely to flash. There are millions of tiny read/writes that occur when we use our PCs, and flash memory can't quite handle that yet.

Hope this helps!

Anyone else, please correct me where I may have misspoken.

-Clive
Sounds like you know more than I do on this so no challenge here. But I do want to emphasize your last point which I left inside the quotation box.

I think this is one of the main reasons why an all solid-state flash drive laptop will not occur for another 2-3 years. Price for solid state is going down fast, but it's this limiting read/write cycles that sounds problematic.

roland.g
Mar 8, 2007, 05:22 PM
Sounds like you know more than I do on this so no challenge here. But I do want to emphasize your last point which I left inside the quotation box.

I think this is one of the main reasons why an all solid-state flash drive laptop will not occur for another 2-3 years. Price for solid state is going down fast, but it's this limiting read/write cycles that sounds problematic.

This I didn't know. What does that say about the life span of a Nano as well as an iPhone?

Mgkwho
Mar 8, 2007, 05:23 PM
Are there mainstream laptops with flash memory yet? Or would these be the first?

-=|Mgkwho

dernhelm
Mar 8, 2007, 05:29 PM
Roland.g has half of the picture right.

"Flash" (NAND Flash, Flash drives, etc) can be considered cousins of RAM, both of which reside in the solid-state storage family. Solid-state is fast because, as others have said, it does not require spinning up to speed and searching for bits of data on a platter. With a solid-state chip one applies voltages on certain leads of the chip, and, accordingly, a bit associated with that conbination of input leads is "released" on output leads. So, basically, to run a solid-state chip, you apply a bunch of different combinations of voltages on the input leads. The speed of accessing these bits is limited only by the clock speed of your processor and the "slew rate" (time it takes to change voltage from 'on' to 'off' or vice versa) of the components used.

Of course, that is the very simplistic view of solid-state chips. As increasing capacity and other factors become involved, the equation becomes much more complicated, and things slow down. I don't know much about that. I only took entry-level circuits ;).

How this applies to how your computer runs:

Your computer's HD has a boot-sector. That is the information used by the computer required to start up and launch an OS. Since this is typically stored on a regular HD, it takes time to spin through and read all the necessary bits of info. If the boot sector was located on a solid-state chip, boot times *could* be near instantaneous - limiting factors would be the internal bus speeds and crap like that.

What others have said, however, is right: solid-state reliability wears down over time, much like a recharable battery. Improvements have been made, but greater strides must be taken, still, before we convert solely to flash. There are millions of tiny read/writes that occur when we use our PCs, and flash memory can't quite handle that yet.

Hope this helps!

Anyone else, please correct me where I may have misspoken.

-Clive

Nope you are dead on. I'm in fact surprised that we haven't heard more complaints from iPod shuffle owners who are constantly swapping out their play lists of the flash memory eventually quitting. But i suppose even at a rate of change where you swap contents every couple of days it would take years to wear down the device.

The problem with most OSs is that they are incredibly disk intensive. Especially Unix-based OSs. The problem gets worse with journalling, etc, going on (which you'd turn off with Flash memory) but there would still be a lot of on-off states for the flash memory to handle. It would be interesting,
though, to learn of Apple putting any effort into optimizing some of the OS functions that are more disk intensive to work a little differently.

Ironically, things were better in this respect when they had large amounts of their OS loaded into ROM....

gnasher729
Mar 8, 2007, 05:30 PM
With the cost of flash memory, couldn't they put 8GB flash in there for OS and Apps and a 1.8" or 2.5" drive for data. Quick boot, less power draw for OS and Apps, accesses drive only for other data, swaps open docs, files, etc to flash while in use, writes to drive upon save/close.

Who cares about quick boot? How often do you boot your Mac? I close the MacBook when I don't need it, and when I open it, it runs within one or two seconds. Flash memory serves as a cache, and fixing the contents of any cache is always stupid, stupid, stupid.

Good use of flash memory would observe which data is used often, especially where are small amounts of data that are used often (flash memory is faster for small amounts of data than a harddisk, but slower for large amounts) and cache them, and cache data that needs to be written.

Rocketman
Mar 8, 2007, 05:30 PM
While it is true that flash has a "lower" lifetime than a HD (assuming you do not expose the device to hi G's too often), it is also true that bad bits are dynamically logged so you don't notice it. While I would not use flash for a transaction handling server, remember the Tablet (ATNN) we are discussing definitely has real memory for stuff with rapid or many updates, flash could be the primary drive if it is iPhone like, in which case one might presume OSX lite is tailored to address that issue and do minimal updates on a write basis to flash. If the device ALSO has a HD that could be used for many update tasks and only on some completion state have it do any updates to flash or your wireless server.

All this attention to limitations of memory and storage devices reminds me of the 70's. Punch cards, tape drives, 8.5" floppies, and the occasional HD pack the size of a washing machine with a whoppng 10mb.

The issues are indeed similar. A resource limited environment, tiny device volume, battery time critical, and heavy CPU/storage energy management. All while trying to minimize price and maximize throughput. I would expect an ATNN price point at least as high as a MacBook, probably the black one.

Rocketman

Clive At Five
Mar 8, 2007, 05:39 PM
This I didn't know. What does that say about the life span of a Nano as well as an iPhone?

The advantage of the Nano is the lack of constant read/writes. Unless you go through and update song info (ratings and what-have-you) while listenting to tunes, you will have minimal R/Ws -- only significant ones when you update your iPod via your computer. Full-size iPods work the same way with the cache. It'll load the next 30 minutes of music into the cache (solid-state) and cycle through it before adding more. That's way, sometimes when you skip through songs on a HDD-based model, it'll pause and re-spin the harddrive. When this happens, you've reached the end of what your iPod cached, and now it has to load more data in there.

I can't speak for the iPhone, because I don't know how complex it is, but I would assume that, with the exception of loading web-pages and e-mails, I can't think of anything that will cause an overabundance of R/Ws. All other data; tunes, contacts, photos, so on; will either be primarily read data, and not written.

I wouldn't be too concerned with it. The iPhone certainly isn't as versatile as a laptop, which alone reduces its complexity, leading me to think it won't be an issue.

I am open to other opinions, though! Anyone else?

-Clive

gnasher729
Mar 8, 2007, 05:42 PM
Flash is just now starting to ship at 16gb which means it will take MONTHS to experience its first price drop from bleeding edge user price to premium application price. Apple typically comes in shortly after that point and does a supply agreement with a huge cash deposit and "averages down" its cost and the contract allows Apple to immediately capture any unexpected price drops. They cited that in 1Q07 results in January.

USB Flash Drives are for sale at Amazon.co.uk for <£10 for 2GB, <£20 for 4GB, so 32GB would cost £160 at that rate. Save another £60 by getting rid of the harddisk altogether. A Mac with 32GB permanent storage would be acceptable (not for everything, but for many uses), especially with an OS installer that installs only stuff you need (no need for Garageband, for example).

dernhelm
Mar 8, 2007, 05:45 PM
The whole talk of tablet macs still amuses me. It seems that iPhone-like devices are inevitable, but tablet style devices: no way.

I'm really interested in two things:
1. How modified is the OS/X on the iPhone? It's purely Flash, and I would think that many of the "features" of OS/X are permanently off on this thing. The question is how much is disabled, and how much is merely not made "visible".

2. Is the version of OS/X running on the iPhone able to run on other devices as well?

Clive At Five
Mar 8, 2007, 05:46 PM
The problem with most OSs is that they are incredibly disk intensive. Especially Unix-based OSs. The problem gets worse with journalling, etc, going on (which you'd turn off with Flash memory) but there would still be a lot of on-off states for the flash memory to handle. It would be interesting, though, to learn of Apple putting any effort into optimizing some of the OS functions that are more disk intensive to work a little differently.

OMG, I never even though of that... journaling would KILL solid-state.

But what about ZFS... wouldn't that fix the problem?

-Clive

gnasher729
Mar 8, 2007, 05:51 PM
I can't speak for the iPhone, because I don't know how complex it is, but I would assume that, with the exception of loading web-pages and e-mails, I can't think of anything that will cause an overabundance of R/Ws. All other data; tunes, contacts, photos, so on; will either be primarily read data, and not written.

Simple maths: There are 8GB in the iPhone. Flash can handle at least 100,000 writes, that is a total of 800,000 GB written (the OS needs to be clever to make sure that all areas of memory are written equally often). If you plan to use the iPhone for ten years = 3600 days, that's 222 GB that you can write every day. That's an awful lot. Check with Activity Monitor if your Mac comes anywhere near that; for most people, it won't. At 10 MB per second, writing 222GB would take 22,000 seconds or more than six hours.

In other words, if you write 10 MB per second, six hours per day, for ten years, that's when the iPhone's memory will start wearing out.

Clive At Five
Mar 8, 2007, 05:59 PM
USB Flash Drives are for sale at Amazon.co.uk for <£10 for 2GB, <£20 for 4GB, so 32GB would cost £160 at that rate.

No, it's not a linear progression for premium items. 32GB would cost at least $500 if they shipped it. They have to wait and let 16GB chips saturate the market first. ;)

-Clive

Clive At Five
Mar 8, 2007, 06:01 PM
Simple maths: There are 8GB in the iPhone. Flash can handle at least 100,000 writes, that is a total of 800,000 GB written (the OS needs to be clever to make sure that all areas of memory are written equally often). If you plan to use the iPhone for ten years = 3600 days, that's 222 GB that you can write every day. That's an awful lot. Check with Activity Monitor if your Mac comes anywhere near that; for most people, it won't. At 10 MB per second, writing 222GB would take 22,000 seconds or more than six hours.

In other words, if you write 10 MB per second, six hours per day, for ten years, that's when the iPhone's memory will start wearing out.

Bravo. Good Maths!

-Clive

MacTheSpoon
Mar 8, 2007, 06:16 PM
Does anybody know if there would be any issues with running Windows using Bootcamp on a laptop like this? If Apple just released proper drivers would everything would work OK? Or is there something about an unconventional computer like this that would "break" Windows (not that it's in the greatest shape as it is, of course)?

gnasher729
Mar 8, 2007, 06:17 PM
No, it's not a linear progression for premium items. 32GB would cost at least $500 if they shipped it. They have to wait and let 16GB chips saturate the market first. ;)

-Clive

On www.amazon.co.uk, I found 32 GB USB drives for £99, 16 GB for £59. That is including tax, plus shipping, manufacturer + quality unknown.

JRM PowerPod
Mar 8, 2007, 06:22 PM
With the cost of flash memory, couldn't they put 8GB flash in there for OS and Apps and a 1.8" or 2.5" drive for data. Quick boot, less power draw for OS and Apps, accesses drive only for other data, swaps open docs, files, etc to flash while in use, writes to drive upon save/close.

Yeah i reckon they have a 11" or 12" Macbook Pro TABLET hiding somewhere

1.83GHZ LOW VOLTAGE DUO (L2500)
1GB (1 slot only can upgrade to a 2gb)
8GB flash drive for OS and main programs
80GB 1.8"Drive
7400 Turbocache Graphics

Same price as a basic MacBook Pro so $1999

Done-on-a-Mac
Mar 8, 2007, 06:39 PM
Doesn't NRAM have a much longer lifespan than traditional FLASH? Doesn't also retain data even when the power is turned off?

- Scott

Cubert
Mar 8, 2007, 07:05 PM
Shaw Wu!

Gesundheit!

Cinch
Mar 8, 2007, 07:22 PM
Doesn't NRAM have a much longer lifespan than traditional FLASH? Doesn't also retain data even when the power is turned off?

- Scott

mRAM? If this is what you're talking about then yes. mRAM takes the best of both worlds (Hard disk and NAND flash) large write cycles without deterioration and instant access, however, scaling them down in size has proven more challenging additionally they have to compete in the same market as Hard disk and flash memories.

EagerDragon
Mar 8, 2007, 07:23 PM
kool, but cant buy a subnotebook, I have bad eye and a 12 incher is real bad on my eyes, smaller would be worse.

EagerDragon
Mar 8, 2007, 07:33 PM
Just a guess on my part, but at the driver level you should be able to map those 8, 16, 32 gigs of flash to logicaly be at the begining of a logical disk made of flash and normal disk. With the OS at the begining of the logical drive, most operations in OSX would have a very reduced delay to access. Areas such as /user/ would map to the hard disk. Sort of like partitioning.
This would allow you to get most of the benefits for less cost and longer battery.

Pooldraft
Mar 8, 2007, 07:37 PM
Ok, kids not every technological advancement is an APPLE rumor. Yes, Samsung did start shipping Hybrid Disk Drives(http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/03/08/1513228) but you can not just start assuming that they will make it to APPLE computers. Unfortunatly these days Apple happens to be a bit away from the edge now that they have gotten so big they don't want to risk their fat ass falling off the edge. I am sure that we will see these drive in other computers way before any MAC or MAC Book get them. Sorry. I wish I had one on my 17' PB. ;)

Analog Kid
Mar 8, 2007, 07:40 PM
The reliability limit with flash is write/erase, not read/write. You can read it as often as you'd like and it and the data should hold for 10 years between writes. You've got between about 10^5 and 10^6 erase cycles. That's enough for buffered storage if you have a well designed flash file system.

There's another problem that is probably a bigger deal-- NAND Flash is much more subject to bit errors than NOR. It was designed to be a higher density, but less reliable, alternative to NOR for media applications like music and imaging where bit errors aren't catastrophic.

There is a premium for higher density at first but in the long run, higher density is cheaper. One 4GB chip now will cost more than 4 1GB chips, but it won't for long. 4 1GB chips have 4 times the silicon, and 4 times the packaging as 1 4GB chip. Eventually physical costs dominate the price.

Apple is well positioned to be the first to do this because they have so much leverage in the Flash market because of the iPod. They also clearly like making things thinner just because they can.

All of that said, I don't think anything will come of this-- at least not in the laptop, sub-notebook, or even ATNN formats. It's just too expensive for too little benefit. Flash is not cheaper than rotating media and I don't believe flash will be the technology to replace rotating media. Something else is going to have to come along.

Everybody feels like flash based mass storage is inevitable because they're becoming more aware of the technology recently through iPods and digital cameras and there's a general feeling that new technology replaces old, but Flash isn't it. Like magnetic storage, Flash has it's own density limits because of the way bits are stored (electron tunneling) and the physical requirements to make that reliable. The bits can only get so dense on the die, and the dice can only get so big because of process yield issues.

Flash is fine for smaller storage requirements. It's just not practical to carry more Flash than the current iPod Nanos. Right now the largest devices around are 4GB (which manufacturers market as 32Gb, don't confuse your bits and bytes). Once you start having to manufacture circuit boards full of these things they become much less attractive. A 120GB hard drive replaces 30 Flash chips, and I'd guess we get to 200GB 1.8" drives before the next generation of Flash starts shipping.

If this is used for anything, I'd imagine it being used for some sort of lifestyle device-- not a full Macbook replacement. Some sort of wireless communicator running mini-OS X with a keyboard and iWork maybe (Apple Tablet Nano Large Format?) but as soon as you try to use it as an actual computer, people are going to start carrying external hard drives around with it which makes the whole point moot.

And who the heck cares about cutting boot time in half? Saving me a minute and a half a month just doesn't justify spending an extra grand...

Sure Wu and ATR may not hold Apple stock, but I don't think that's what the hype is about -- I think they're trying to hype the Flash market.

aquaibm
Mar 8, 2007, 07:55 PM
Will it be more expensive than before?:eek:

scrambledwonder
Mar 8, 2007, 08:00 PM
With the cost of flash memory, couldn't they put 8GB flash in there for OS and Apps and a 1.8" or 2.5" drive for data. Quick boot, less power draw for OS and Apps, accesses drive only for other data, swaps open docs, files, etc to flash while in use, writes to drive upon save/close.

Isn't this the plan for Intel's "Robson" flash memory technology? I thought that they actually demoed a windows laptop with this setup—some flash memory for the system and frequently used applications and a standard HDD for storage. Supposed to be a feature of the new Santa Rosa logic boards, right?

tilman
Mar 8, 2007, 08:18 PM
On www.amazon.co.uk, I found 32 GB USB drives for £99, 16 GB for £59. That is including tax, plus shipping, manufacturer + quality unknown.

Flash comes in a wide range of speed and price. Just look at compact flash memory cards: you can find anything from "fast (1-2 MB/s)" through "High Speed 40x (6MB/s)" to "Ultra Speed 133x (20MB/s)". That's a wide range - and for comparison, your typical hard disk has a throughput of 60MB/s or more. Prices for flash go up quickly as speed increases. Those drives above are probably at the very low end of the speed range, and are unsuitable for use a general hard disk replacement in a computer. So when you estimate the cost of a 32 GB flash drive to replace the hard disk in a laptop, you need base it on the more expensive flash memory available.

knowledg333
Mar 8, 2007, 08:20 PM
I just wonder how they will price these? Between the lowend Macbook $1099 and the iPhone? Maybe $899ish, but this seems to high?

I just don't see it fitting in anywhere..... :confused:

You have to be kidding! You'll have to pay through the nose for the miniaturization and technology that will have to go into a subnotebook that can handle the workload of a macbook. Maybe I am misunderstanding your definition of subnotebook. I think if it as being a small laptop, like the old 12" powerbooks. If you're thinking that it will be like a slightly larger apple version of a pocketPC, than yes, $799-$899 should be a good pricepoint. I personally would not want such a device to perform the basic functions of the iPhone, because it would be too big. But a subnotebook that has some power under the hood would be sweet:apple:

wizard
Mar 8, 2007, 08:29 PM
Hi Folks;


I do hope the rumors are true about a flash based laptop or even phase change memory for that matter. Such a machine would be especially useful if the over all machine was targeted at the rough usage crowd. One of the reasons I don't have an up to date laptop at the moment is the high cost of repair. I'd much prefer a unit that doesn't break easy and is stable. Such a machine does need to support Wifi or other RF networking though.

It would be nice to see Apple lead with this sort of technology. In some ways it represents an enlarged palm computer, with the obvious advantage of larger screen.

What I do have a pressing need for though is a phone that support Voice over IP and doesn't come with any service contracts. Even a palm computer that supports VoIP would do the trick. Now I'm kinda hoping that Apple delivers such features with iPhone. Of course by the time iPhone gets here my window of opportunity will have passed.

Dave

tilman
Mar 8, 2007, 08:29 PM
Just a guess on my part, but at the driver level you should be able to map those 8, 16, 32 gigs of flash to logicaly be at the begining of a logical disk made of flash and normal disk. With the OS at the begining of the logical drive, most operations in OSX would have a very reduced delay to access. Areas such as /user/ would map to the hard disk. Sort of like partitioning.
This would allow you to get most of the benefits for less cost and longer battery.

Flash has better startup and random access time than a hard disk, but slower read/write throughput than a hard disk. Flash is only faster when you access many small files, or write data in small chunks. As soon as you access larger files, with sequential read or write operations, the hard disk wins. For example, storing a bookmark or a cookie could be faster with flash, but saving a digital photo or a movie goes much faster with a hard disk.

I would think the appeal of a flash-based laptop would be less noise, faster startup and shutdown, maybe longer battery life, but not overall performance.

Rocketman
Mar 8, 2007, 08:44 PM
Some sort of wireless communicator running mini-OS X with a keyboard and iWork maybe (Apple Tablet Nano Large Format?) but as soon as you try to use it as an actual computer, people are going to start carrying external hard drives around with it which makes the whole point moot.


If the HD or external storage format system (BR/DVD/CD/floppy) has 802.11n it is wireless too and is not particularly location dependent.

Rocketman

asphalt-proof
Mar 8, 2007, 08:51 PM
This information is from an analysis who, apparently has no insider information. Just a hunch that Apple is going to produce this product. He's making a prediction based on what? Has any of these analyses been correct? Mayb with the iPhone, but everyone including my technophobe grandmother was predicting an iPhone this year. Why isn't this on Page 2?
End rant.
I would however, love to see a flash harddrive on the new macbooks. I would sacrifice a bit of space for the longer battery life and faster times. But doesn't running an OS on a flashdrive dramatically decrease the lifetime of said flashdrive?

bignumbers
Mar 8, 2007, 09:50 PM
I just took a quick (rough) look. Comparing the sweet spots of cheap CF cards and laptop hard drives, the CF cards are about 13x as expensive per GB as a hard drive.

I would assume Apple would use multiple flash modules RAIDed (like P2 cards). The size is still manageable this way, and you'd get lower cost/higher performance than a single huge module. But still, figure a 40GB "drive" to cost $400. And that's small for a laptop drive these days.

So possible, but more of a specialty item than I'd wished.

Analog Kid
Mar 8, 2007, 10:01 PM
If the HD or external storage format system (BR/DVD/CD/floppy) has 802.11n it is wireless too and is not particularly location dependent.

Rocketman
Still has to be in the same building... You're right that my new laptop will be light weight on my desk, but I'm most concerned about the weight in my backpack.

dvader
Mar 8, 2007, 11:05 PM
Flash has better startup and random access time than a hard disk, but slower read/write throughput than a hard disk. Flash is only faster when you access many small files, or write data in small chunks. As soon as you access larger files, with sequential read or write operations, the hard disk wins. For example, storing a bookmark or a cookie could be faster with flash, but saving a digital photo or a movie goes much faster with a hard disk.

I would think the appeal of a flash-based laptop would be less noise, faster startup and shutdown, maybe longer battery life, but not overall performance.
Can you tell me the reference for this? It's not that I don't believe you, but I want to read up on it more as well. I'm really interested in this stuff.

Anyway, I think this would be the reason why HDDs will always be with us. The best solution seems to be the Robson tech which is what Santa Rosa and future Intel chips will be offering.

tilman
Mar 9, 2007, 12:32 AM
Can you tell me the reference for this? It's not that I don't believe you, but I want to read up on it more as well. I'm really interested in this stuff.


Some is based on my own measurements. Here is a site that is a little dated but still has lots of good information:
http://www.mattscomputertrends.com/flashvsharddisk.html

Here is a ReadyBoost FAQ, which touches many aspects of this discussion: http://blogs.msdn.com/tomarcher/archive/2006/06/02/615199.aspx. ReadyBoost is the feature in Vista that uses Flash drives to speed up some operations.

Here is a benchmark that shows the wide performance spread of flash products: http://www.tomshardware.com/2005/08/10/two_fast_and_functional_usb_flash_drives/page9.html Check out the access time chart - 0.5ms for the best, 79ms for the worst.

sonicboom
Mar 9, 2007, 12:32 AM
This is a rehash of older rumors...
nothing to see here.
move along.
move along.

juststranded
Mar 9, 2007, 12:55 AM
This won't happen for at least another year. That is if you want the price to stay the same. They may add an option, but it won't be standard for a long time.

Neil4512
Mar 9, 2007, 01:00 AM
.

Neil4512
Mar 9, 2007, 01:10 AM
Does anyone have a general idea of how much extra battery life a flash based HD could result in?

shikimo
Mar 9, 2007, 02:15 AM
Sure Wu and ATR may not hold Apple stock, but I don't think that's what the hype is about -- I think they're trying to hype the Flash market.

This is a key point that's underrep'd in the discussion: there a lot of reasons why analysts publish crap like this, and actual knowledge seems to be among them but far from the top of the list. Mr. Wu's firm, and others like it, has a financial and reputational agenda that--in concert with available, quotable information--determines what, when and through whom sound bites like this are released. Only a detailed analysis of the entire industry of technical forecasting, not to mention the movement of financial assets in the industry, is going to hint at the motives for seemingly idiotic releases like this. For consulting outfits the line between insider trading, even outright market manipulation, and aggressive investment strategy is blurry and complicated.

Whatever the reasons, it was important: this speculation is waaay too technically small-time, unoriginal and generally uninteresting to have garnered headline status with Reuters and AP. As someone who follows this garbage rather closely, I find that to be rather curious.

Evangelion
Mar 9, 2007, 02:53 AM
Are you serious?? That thing couldn't run Vista any better than my Performa 630CD. 1.1 GHz Pentium M... 512 MB of RAM. Yeah right. And what a lame HD. 30 GB? Just another over-priced, underpowered toy for rich identity-crisis'd execs.

-Clive

Yeah, if the computer is not powerful enough to run Mathematica, Aperture and Final Cut Pro all at the same time, it's garbage.

Seriously what would you like to do with an ultraportable sub-notebook? It's not meant to be you primary machine. It can't be as powerful as a full-blown laptop is. Subnotebook could do maybe 80-90% of what real, notebook could do, while being a lot more portable. 30GB hard-disk? That's more than enough. It can hold lots and lots of documents, apps and content. You want a more powerful machine with more HD-space? Get a real laptop then. It would propably weight around three time more, while having four time more volume, but who cares?

Apart from those people who want a machine that is REALLY portable, that is....

Bye Bye Baby
Mar 9, 2007, 03:11 AM
I'm iffy about this. It seems like it has the potential to be a weak powered machine, small flash drive (32gigs), and a hefty price tag.

However, it somehow they get 100gigs of flash memory and the power of current macbook pros...all in a small package...now that would be awesome.

Flash based notebooks sound great- but flash drives max out at 32 gig!!! Unless it really is just some form of elaborate pen drive- how is anyone going to use it!!! Anyway, we shall see...

4np
Mar 9, 2007, 03:22 AM
Are we perhaps speculating about Santa Rosa's Robson Caching (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robson_flash_memory) mechanism?


Robson flash memory, also known as a Robson cache, is a technology the CPU producer Intel introduced on October 17, 2005 at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in Taiwan when it gave a demonstration using a laptop that booted up almost immediately.[1] Robson flash memory uses NAND flash memory to reduce the time it takes for a computer to power up, to access programs, and to write data to the hard drive. For notebook computers, it could also improve battery life.[2] Flash memory keeps its data even after the computer is turned off, unlike most other types of solid-state memory.


As Santa Rosa is on track for release in May (http://www.macrumors.com/2007/02/25/next-generation-intel-platform-santa-rosa-tracking-for-may/) we may see MacBook Pro's using this technology in / around June 2007?

CaptainHaddock
Mar 9, 2007, 03:38 AM
A sub-notebook would sell like hotcakes in Japan. They need this. People here make do with pocket-sized piece-of-crap PCs because Apple has nothing in that segment of the market.

lightsout
Mar 9, 2007, 06:31 AM
OMG, I never even though of that... journaling would KILL solid-state.

But what about ZFS... wouldn't that fix the problem?

-Clive

Good job no-one else had thought of that then....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_memory#Flash_file_systems

Read the section above it also on limitations, it is quite explicit in that the bad block failure is a known & dealt with issue. It is extremely common to have a reserved area of blocks that are used if a block goes bad, remapping it automatically.

kitchingj
Mar 9, 2007, 07:00 AM
Why would Apple bother with flash drives, which are expensive and have a limited life, when PRAM is about to be released http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2007/03/08/intel_pram_production_plan/

Analog Kid
Mar 9, 2007, 07:04 AM
Good job no-one else had thought of that then....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_memory#Flash_file_systems

Read the section above it also on limitations, it is quite explicit in that the bad block failure is a known & dealt with issue. It is extremely common to have a reserved area of blocks that are used if a block goes bad, remapping it automatically.
Following a few links from here brought up an interesting news story:
http://www.tgdaily.com/2007/01/17/adata_ssd_128gb/
Points of interest: 128GB flash drive is expected to cost at least $1000, while competing 32GB drives will cost hundreds. The 128GB drive couldn't be fit in a 1.8" case and is in a 2.5" case.

What I take away from this is that Flash is still much, much more expensive than rotating media and it's really no more compact once you use all those chips, their circuit boards, interface logic, etc, etc.

Squozen
Mar 9, 2007, 07:13 AM
It would probably only take a couple of seconds to boot into the full desktop as standard drives have to spool up and compile the data beforehand. Think less than half the time it takes for present macs to boot.

The battery time could possibly be improved by an additional few hours since the actual rotating media sucks up quite a bit of juice. If you watch movies on the road with your laptop you could probably get a good 5-6 hours depending on display settings instead of the 2 1/2-3 that one gets with a macbook watching a movie in H.264.

I checked all the way through the thread and nobody called you on this ridiculous claim. An LCD display uses around 10 times the power the hard drive does, yet you think that using flash memory instead of a HD that draws 2.6W maximum is going to double your battery life?

gkarris
Mar 9, 2007, 07:39 AM
eMate - sort of a sub-note that's kind of a computer but doesn't have the memory or as many functions, and expensive for what it was.

Not this all over again?

How much for a 64 Gig RAM sub-note - $3,000?

dernhelm
Mar 9, 2007, 07:53 AM
OMG, I never even though of that... journaling would KILL solid-state.

But what about ZFS... wouldn't that fix the problem?

-Clive

That's a good question. Apple's HFS+ (or whatever we're using now) would likely do a lot of unoptimized writing - I'm not expert on HFS or HFS+ mind you, I'm really only gauging this by its extreme age. Most Unix file systems are "inode" based, and they definitely do a lot of small reads and writes to maintain the inode structure. Many are designed to optimize the disk "as you go" reducing or eliminating the need for defragmentation tools. I'm guessing these types of optimizations would need to be turned off on a full flash hard drive.

I don't know anything much about ZFS first hand. I've never installed it, never played with it, but everything I've heard has always been good. But while it's relatively new - I'm still pretty sure they have not optimized it in such a way that the number of reads, writes, and rewrites are optimized.

Bottom line, I would have to hear something a lot more convincing than what I've heard before I'll believe that there is a full fledged all-flash subnotebook coming. Robson Caching? Sure. All Flash? I'd be very surprised.

JGowan
Mar 9, 2007, 09:48 AM
I'm getting fed up with speculation.Period.This is macRUMORS.com. You're going to get a fair amount of speculation here. Period. :D

JGowan
Mar 9, 2007, 09:53 AM
i'm getting so fed up of all these flash based rumors, that the announcement is going to come, and i'll see the words "flash based" in the title somewhere, and i just won't read itYet you posted. ::james confused:: :p

richard4339
Mar 9, 2007, 10:15 AM
Someone may have beaten me to the punch with this, but ComputerWorld believes Apple is planning on releasing a flash laptop in the second half of 07.

http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&taxonomyName=storage&articleId=9012619&taxonomyId=19&intsrc=kc_top

Swarmlord
Mar 9, 2007, 10:18 AM
Yeah, if the computer is not powerful enough to run Mathematica, Aperture and Final Cut Pro all at the same time, it's garbage.

<snip>
Don't you mean World of Warcraft and a browser connected to Allakhazam? To each his own I guess. :cool:

dvader
Mar 9, 2007, 10:26 AM
Some is based on my own measurements. Here is a site that is a little dated but still has lots of good information:
http://www.mattscomputertrends.com/flashvsharddisk.html

Here is a ReadyBoost FAQ, which touches many aspects of this discussion: http://blogs.msdn.com/tomarcher/archive/2006/06/02/615199.aspx. ReadyBoost is the feature in Vista that uses Flash drives to speed up some operations.

Here is a benchmark that shows the wide performance spread of flash products: http://www.tomshardware.com/2005/08/10/two_fast_and_functional_usb_flash_drives/page9.html Check out the access time chart - 0.5ms for the best, 79ms for the worst.
Thanks!

Clive At Five
Mar 9, 2007, 12:24 PM
Yeah, if the computer is not powerful enough to run Mathematica, Aperture and Final Cut Pro all at the same time, it's garbage.

Seriously what would you like to do with an ultraportable sub-notebook? It's not meant to be you primary machine. It can't be as powerful as a full-blown laptop is. Subnotebook could do maybe 80-90% of what real, notebook could do, while being a lot more portable. 30GB hard-disk? That's more than enough. It can hold lots and lots of documents, apps and content. You want a more powerful machine with more HD-space? Get a real laptop then. It would propably weight around three time more, while having four time more volume, but who cares?

Apart from those people who want a machine that is REALLY portable, that is....

No no no. That's not what I'm saying. The webpage claims it will run Vista. Right now, I have a 2.4 GHz Pentium, with a gig of RAM, and it chokes on Vista (RC1)... even without Aero. That little brick WILL NOT be capable of running Vista (+1 or 2 moderately complex apps) effectively. XP, it'll be more than enough. I'm not suggesting it should be able to run Photoshop, Mathematica, etc, all simultaneously. I'm saying it should be able to run the OS without significant strain.

-Clive

tortoise
Mar 9, 2007, 12:39 PM
Before everyone throws out the HDD for FLASH, remember that FLASH is slow to write (good for persistent cache, not for dynamic files) and can only be erased/re-written a finite number of times (kinda like battery charges).


FLASH is super-fast for random access reads and writes compared to HDD, and a huge amount of disk usage is of this type. Even if HDDs are slightly faster in the sequential access department, it will be more than compensated for by the fact that FLASH is orders of magnitude faster for random access.

Also, while it is true that there are a limited number of write cycles for FLASH (on the order of a million plus for any given memory slot), it is also true that HDDs have a limited number of write cycles as well. Once the number of write cycles is high enough, hardware becomes obsolete before it is likely to fail due to write cycle overrun and we can treat that factor as though it doesn't exist. The difference is that people still have lingering memories of when FLASH only lasted for thousands of writes. Modern FLASH should outlast an HDD now.

Maccus Aurelius
Mar 9, 2007, 02:07 PM
I checked all the way through the thread and nobody called you on this ridiculous claim. An LCD display uses around 10 times the power the hard drive does, yet you think that using flash memory instead of a HD that draws 2.6W maximum is going to double your battery life?

No, I was wrong, you won't get "double" the time, but there would be a substantial improvement depending on how taxing certain applications and files are on the processor at any given time. If I was watching short videos and surfing the web and accessing various files on a macbook with an SDD drive, a macbook with rotating media with the same settings and battery doing the same exact things would not hold the charge as long.

Cult Follower
Mar 10, 2007, 09:45 PM
I consider adding hybrid drives would be a given.

gnasher729
Mar 11, 2007, 03:14 PM
You have to be kidding! You'll have to pay through the nose for the miniaturization and technology that will have to go into a subnotebook that can handle the workload of a macbook. Maybe I am misunderstanding your definition of subnotebook. I think if it as being a small laptop, like the old 12" powerbooks. If you're thinking that it will be like a slightly larger apple version of a pocketPC, than yes, $799-$899 should be a good pricepoint. I personally would not want such a device to perform the basic functions of the iPhone, because it would be too big. But a subnotebook that has some power under the hood would be sweet:apple:

See www.flipstart.com , these guys think that they can sell a tiny subnotebook with 1.1GHz single core processor for $2000. I think Apple can do better for less.

50548
Mar 11, 2007, 03:58 PM
See www.flipstart.com , these guys think that they can sell a tiny subnotebook with 1.1GHz single core processor for $2000. I think Apple can do better for less.

Not to mention that FlipStart is simply ridiculous...it looks FUGLY. No wonder it came from Gates's pal Paul Allen...

Jiebke
Mar 12, 2007, 02:24 PM
Intel has unveiled small SSDs. And because Apple is following the Intel product releases on a close counter, it looks like this SSD could be in Apples laptops within a short time.

Source: http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/2185212/intel-targets-low-cost

JeffDM
Mar 12, 2007, 06:46 PM
All of the itzy bitzy notebooks I've seen were priced higher than a midrange Macbook Pro, yet didn't provide as much hardware capability. You pay dearly for that nice lilliputian computer, and don't expect Apple to build one and suddenly sell it cheaper than any macbook.

It is done for weight, size and battery life. The battery life of subnotes run from 6 to 12 hours, depending on the model.

You are right that they would be more expensive than the MacBook.


just about how much battery saving and how much faster of startup are we talking about here?

I'm not convinced that you'd get more than ten minutes of battery life out of a standard notebook if you switched it to a flash drive. Notebook hard drives don't take much power.

You can force a swap drive to use a Solid State Drive. So you have some control over the OS. It would be a speedy scratch disk for PhotoShop as well. ;)

You don't want to swap to SSD at all. They have much more limited number of write cycles. For large files, SSD is slower. SSD is only faster for random seeks, for bulk transfers, the hard drive is still faster. In a specialized industrial machine, I recently replaced a ten year old 1GB spinning hard drive with a 512MB Compact Flash (CF) drive, with swapping disabled of course. It was only very slightly faster with disk-related stuff, and this was on a drive with only tiny files. I'm skeptical that the operational speed of a computer flash drive would be significantly faster than a notebook drive. As yet, I don't see enough benefit. I think one can buy 5x of 200GB notebook drives for the cost of 1x 128GB flash drives, if you are so concerned about reliability, then outfit your notebook with Optibay and use drive mirroring.

I say invest 95% into solid state and push capacities beyond that of these spinning medias. Bring down the price, increase the reliability.

Technology and capacity doesn't necessarily scale faster just because you throw more money at the problem. It's going to require denser semiconductor fabs and those don't build themselves, and they aren't cheap, nor are they easy to build, then there's the shake-down time to get the yields and volumes up.

This I didn't know. What does that say about the life span of a Nano as well as an iPhone?

Nano doesn't use swap files. I don't think the iPhone swaps either.

Simple maths: There are 8GB in the iPhone. Flash can handle at least 100,000 writes, that is a total of 800,000 GB written (the OS needs to be clever to make sure that all areas of memory are written equally often). If you plan to use the iPhone for ten years = 3600 days, that's 222 GB that you can write every day. That's an awful lot. Check with Activity Monitor if your Mac comes anywhere near that; for most people, it won't. At 10 MB per second, writing 222GB would take 22,000 seconds or more than six hours.

In other words, if you write 10 MB per second, six hours per day, for ten years, that's when the iPhone's memory will start wearing out.

I've heard of this technique, but a lot of files don't get replaced very often. I'm not sure how the OS can track or handle wear-leveling at that scale. I think the file system would need to be significantly reworked to do this.