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Old Jun 14, 2009, 02:53 PM   #1
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13" and 15" MacBook Pros Have a Slower SATA Interface



As first described in our forums, Apple seems to have quietly downgraded the SATA Interface from 3.0Gbit to 1.5Gbit speeds in some of the new MacBook Pros introduced last week. Readers are reporting that both the new 13" and 15" MacBook Pro models are affected while the 13" MacBook (white), 17" MacBook Pro and 13" MacBook Air retain the 3.0Gbit SATA interface. SATA is the interface between a computer and its hard drives.

The slower SATA interface is unlikely to affect the bulk of users as even the fastest traditional hard drives are unable to saturate even the 1.5 Gbit interfaces. However, if you are planning on buying a fast Solid State Drive (SSD), it could affect the drive's performance. The downgrade of the interface in the new MacBook Pro has also been confirmed in early benchmarks using a fast enough SSD. Forum user fpnc provides an excellent summary of the findings so far:
Quote:
1.) It appears nearly certain that the new 13" and 15" MacBook Pros are all reporting a SATA interface running at 1.5Gb and not the faster 3.0Gb rate that has been in pretty common use for the last few years. These new models have the Secure Digital (SD) slot and also appear to have redesigned motherboards.

2.) Those who are using standard hard disk drives will probably see no difference in performance. If that is you, you can stop reading now.

3.) Benchmarks on FAST solid-state drives (SSDs) are showing a decrease in RAW disk i/o transfer rates on these same systems (in comparison to the previous generation MacBook Pros and MacBooks).

4.) The largest differences in the benchmark results seem to be in large, sequential disk READS (one of the traditional strengths with SSDs).

5.) To the best of my knowledge, no one has done any test with REAL-WORLD operations to show that the user experience (i.e. "performance") will be decreased with the 1.5Gb SATA interface. That is to say that thus far we've only seen benchmarks done with RAW disk i/o benchmarking tools.

6.) No one really knows why this has been done and no one knows whether it can be fixed with a software/firmware update (it may or may not be able to be fixed).
While there is a lot of speculation about if this could be "corrected" by software in the future, there are no definitive answers. At a minimum, it should serve as a caution for those customers who were planning on upgrading to fast SSD drives in their new 13" or 15" MacBook Pros. While you may still see performance benefits over traditional hard drives, the total benefit may be blunted.

Article Link: 13" and 15" MacBook Pros Have a Slower SATA Interface
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 02:58 PM   #2
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Thank you. Now that you've posted the story there's a much better chance that the other tech sites will pick it up.
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:00 PM   #3
jciapara
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Won't notice

I think the majority of users won't notice it, but we'll see
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:00 PM   #4
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Wow, Apple... This is really lame!
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:02 PM   #5
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I am mad that Apple didn't state this downgrade before I returned my uMBP I bought a week before WWDC. They better fix this ASAP.
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:02 PM   #6
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sorry for the noob question, but is it cheaper for apple to go back to 1,5 ? i guess....
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:02 PM   #7
D0rk
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Gives me a reason to spend the extra money on a 17 inch, despite not really wanting the extra size and weight.

Unless this can be resolved by a firmware upgrade, I want to know that I can stick an SSD into my machine in a few years when they are cheaper and get the performance I paid for.
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:02 PM   #8
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ouch. This is very disappointing if not correctable via software. I have an intel ssd in my 15" unibody MBP and was considering flipping it to one of the updated 15" models when I get a new batch for work. That won't be happening until this question is answered. Thanks for the heads up.
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:03 PM   #9
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thank you for posting really hoping this will get more attention on other major sites and apple will catch on
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:03 PM   #10
drew0020
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I hope this is correctable with a software fix. Otherwise this is a disgrace Apple!
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:04 PM   #11
Serge88
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One step forward, two steps back.
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:06 PM   #12
nws0291
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jayomat View Post
sorry for the noob question, but is it cheaper for apple to go back to 1,5 ? i guess....
It's the same chip as the previous gen that was running a 3gb so hardware was unchanged. They seem to have crippled it through firmware or software.
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:06 PM   #13
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No SSD for you!
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:07 PM   #14
Phil A.
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AFAIK, before the NVidia chipset was introduced, all the mac portables used 1.5GBit SATA interfaces. It seems to me that for some reason Apple introducce 3.0GBit for a short while and then took it away again.

It does seem a bit lame, but I can't imagine it having much of a real world impact on most notebook users even with SSDs - it's not very often people read or move huge files (> 150MB) around on the internal hard disk so any real world performance hit is likely to be minimal. Even 1.5GB SATA is far faster than Firewire 800 so it really isn't that much of an issue...
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:08 PM   #15
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Could the slower interface improve battery life?
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:08 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Serge88 View Post
One step forward, two step backward.
How is this two steps backwards? If anything, the new MBPs are 10 steps forward, one step backwards.

I mean really... you're not going to notice.
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:09 PM   #17
Unprocessed1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jglavin View Post
Could the slower interface improve battery life?
No, that's a false rumor.
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:10 PM   #18
MrChurchyard
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Apple giveth, Apple taketh away.
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:11 PM   #19
NorCalLights
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nws0291 View Post
I am mad that Apple didn't state this downgrade before I returned my uMBP I bought a week before WWDC. They better fix this ASAP.
Oh that's funny... 'cause your signature states that you're using a 5400rpm HD. Even if you plan on upgrading to SSD in the future, I'm going to go out on a limb and say you won't ever see a difference in performance.

Do you have any idea how fast 1.5Gb/s is? 3Gb/s interfaces on laptops are for spec-whores.
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:12 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorCalLights View Post
Oh that's funny... 'cause your signature states that you're using a 5400rpm HD. Even if you plan on upgrading to SSD in the future, I'm going to go out on a limb and say you won't ever see a difference in performance.

Do you have any idea how fast 1.5Gb/s is? 3Gb/s interfaces on laptops are for spec-whores.
Maybe he wanted to install a 3rd party SSD, which is both faster and cheaper, like a rational person? Think of that?
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:14 PM   #21
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Are they becoming Dell/HP or something?

Seriously, this type of cost saving maneuvers that become the system "Gotchas" when spec'ing a machine is worthy of Dell or HP the way they take small little things out that cost pennies but they do it to save cash anyway.

Sure hope this is a bug, as it is real lame of Apple to play this game.
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:14 PM   #22
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a test

If somebody has an SSD Macbook/Pro showing SATA at 3g & access to the newer (SD) Macbook Pros with SATA 1.5g, perhaps trying the Apple supplied SSD in the 1.5g MBP and clean installing OSX would show whether this is software or firmware. Yes/No?
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:14 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by KingYaba View Post
No SSD for you!
Lol that was funny. Thanks for posting.
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:16 PM   #24
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Booooooooooooo. I was planning on upgrading to an SSD, now I think I'll keep my late 8 MBP.
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 03:16 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jglavin View Post
Could the slower interface improve battery life?
I was wondering that as well. The AnandTech review of the new MacBook Pros showed an improve battery life that they believed couldn't be completely explained by the bigger battery. It seems unlikely that the slower interface could improve battery life, but I have no idea.

I do hope that Apple fixes this because some SSDs can max out SATA 1.5.
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