How much thinner can they get?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Peyton, Feb 22, 2006.

  1. Peyton macrumors 68000

    Peyton

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2006
    #1
    I know the 17inch MBP is waiting for the smaller superdrives, but how much thinner can they get? I'll guess the 17 is slightly thinner than the 15. If they carve too much out of the screen I think it'd loose its strength. The base is already sub 1 inch, what is taking up the most space after superdrive? are .5 inch macs a possibilty without external dvd drives/hard drive?

    Excited 17 inch MBP future owner wondering. Thanks
     
  2. superwoman macrumors regular

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    Monterey,CA
    #2
    I thought the optical drive was the major determinant of the vertical dimension of the 15" MBP, so much so that Apple has use the older 4x DVD burner, instead of the newer 8x DL drives, in order to get in under an inch thick. If the same constraints hold, then I don't think the 17" can be any thinner.
     
  3. plinkoman macrumors 65816

    plinkoman

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    Jul 2, 2003
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    #3
    as someone who owns a 17"pb, i could honestly say i could care less if it were a tenth of an inch more thin. a this point its thin enough that i wont notice a difference, certainly not a .1in difference. give me the choice between that and an 8xDL superdrive, i'll take the superdrive any day of the week.
     
  4. FarSide macrumors member

    FarSide

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    Feb 16, 2006
    #4
    For Sure! Hopefully in Rev.B of the 17'
     
  5. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #5
    Next generation screen technologies (LED backlights for example) will allow a reduction in screen depth.
     
  6. FarSide macrumors member

    FarSide

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    Feb 16, 2006
    #6
    Do you have some good links regarding the LED techs ? Does sound interesting to me.
     
  7. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    London
    #7
    Despite reading about it a few times, I'm struggling to dig up the links. I'll update this post as I find some:

    Hitachi demo unit
    Actual shipping product (NEC) (just noticed this is thicker!)
     
  8. janstett macrumors 65816

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    Chester, NJ
    #8
    Actually, Apple has a long way to go in size and weight reduction.

    The 12" PowerBook does not compare favorably with ultraportables. For example, IBM's Thinkpad X60 is 0.8" thick and weighs 2.7 pounds. Sony's new Vaio ultraportables are only slightly thicker and heavier. The 12" PowerBook is 1.18" thick and weighs 4.6 pounds.

    The 17" PowerBook is 1" thick, and so is the new 15" MacBook Pro (which I have), so right off the top of my head I'd say they can get rid of another 0.2" to catch up with the Thinkpad and Sony, and then they have to cut the 12" PowerBook's weight nearly in half.
     
  9. Chaszmyr macrumors 601

    Chaszmyr

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    Aug 9, 2002
    #9
    The Thinkpad you mentioned lacks a standard internal optical drive, and the Vaio you mentioned has only an 11'' screen and does not have a full-sized keyboard. Also, they both lack a real video chip.
     
  10. MarkCollette macrumors 68000

    MarkCollette

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    Mar 6, 2003
    Location:
    Calgary, Canada
    #10
    Ok guys, so this might sound kindof dumb, but here's an idea. How about, instead of spinning CDs and DVD around, with all the moving parts, etc, why not just use a flat sheet of something like what's in digital cameras?

    It wouldn't have to be nearly as good as a digital camera, because it wouldn't need to sense RGB, but just the one wavelength of the laser. And we wouldn't care about how bright the color is, just does it correspond to on or off. And it probably wouldn't even have to be as dense.

    Well hold on, let me do some approximations on the density here. Let's assume a CCD in a digital camera is 1cm x 1 cm, and 7 mega pixels. So that's ~2645 pixels across 1 cm, or a resolution down to ~0.000378 cm, or 3.78 microns. From http://www.usbyte.com/common/dvd.htm I found that CDs have a track pitch of 1.6 microns, and a minimum pit length of 0.83 microns. DVDs have 0.74 microns and 0.4 - 0.44 microns. Damn. Okay, so we need 0.4 microns resolution, which means 0.00004 cm, so 25000 pixels across, or 625 mega pixels. Although, instead of RGB triplet sensors, we'd only need an emmitter and a sensor pair.

    Okay, so covering a surface the size of a CD or a DVD would probably cost a lot of $$$. But, getting 0.4 micron resolution shouldn't be impossible, given that the Pentium was built with 0.25 micron lithography, and 0.09 is mainstream. So maybe we could have a little sensor, and have it move up-down, left-right, instead of spinning the disc?

    No no no, how about this: There's a little thin stick, and it's covered with this sensor thing, and that stick is as long as the radius of the CD/DVD (6 cm), and it spins in circles, reading the entire length of the disc at once. So, there'd be no seeking, and in one rotation it could read the entire disc (one layer). So, you'd only rotate the stick as fast as the sensor could sense, and as fast as it could actually transmit the data, so probably less than 1 rpm, which would take very little power, and practically no noise.
     
  11. gormenghast macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    #11
    I think I know what your saying. Maybe you've seen this, it seems like a similar idea but with records and a low-res scanner. I wonder if anyone has actually tried this with a CD, it would be interesting to see their results.
     
  12. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

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    #12
    Methinks the data density per unit cost is better handled using today's flash memory than any optical solution. USB thumbdrives have finally made CD-RW's and floppies irrelevant, and are creeping up to >1 GB sizes.

    Guess who has a lock on large quantities of flash? ;) Equip a subnote with a 4 GB removable USB flash instead of an optical drive and make the darn things smaller and lighter.

    B
     
  13. MarkCollette macrumors 68000

    MarkCollette

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    Calgary, Canada
    #13
    Well, I can buy DVD-R discs for $0.50, and even if you throw in $50 for the drive, it's still a lot less than what 4.4 GB would cost for flash.
     
  14. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #14
    Your rotating stick CCD with 0.4 um resolution wouldn't be cheap either. ;) Look at the prices of digital cameras for clues to how much they might cost. Plus you'd have to worry about the same things that the DVD drive guys have to worry about. How do I detect a pixel as on or off in the presence of dirt/dust, warped media, etc...

    Anyhow, the low cost of optical media is precisely why we haven't gotten rid of optical media yet. Note that I didn't include 4GB media in my comments. However, floppies, zip-drives and CD-RWs (not CD-Rs, since they are still useful for archiving) are dead. (IMHO of course).

    B
     
  15. matticus008 macrumors 68040

    matticus008

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    #15
    It's not at all a stupid idea, but there's a lot of reasons it's not that simple. Heat buildup on CCDs is a major concern (they're small for a reason), and the greater the surface area, the thicker they get, so one that could "read" a whole CD would generate quite a bit of heat, and CCDs are very sensitive to overheating. Beyond that, I'm not sure that a CCD would be able to handle scratches as gracefully, given the reflective nature of CCD photography. Then of course you'll need a strong, clear light source to illuminate the disc so that a clear image could even be detected, but one that worked in such a way as not to produce glare on the surface, which would ruin the image (again ANY blemishes would become a major problem).

    Then there's the matter of the data encoding format (spiral tracks), so the "read the whole radius at once" approach would involve a lot of processing power to pull off. The sensor would have to essentially create an image of the disc in memory and then process the data bits into the correct sequence and THEN it could handle the data and manipulate it as it does now. This would be pretty time consuming, especially given the storage capacity of a DVD. It would be like having to copy the entire CD to your hard drive before being able to access anything on it.

    But it is a good idea if the kinks can be worked out--though it's more likely that optical media will be replaced with something else entirely (holographic storage?) before the technical problems of a CCD sensor would be worked out.
     
  16. mdavey macrumors 6502a

    mdavey

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    Nov 1, 2005
    #16
    That and the constraints imposed by capacitors on the logic board, heatsinks, the battery and the keyboard.

    The base is pretty thin now, it would probably take a fairly fundamental redesign (including the use of new components and materials) to get it any thinner.

    The one area that would be pretty easy to improve next time around is the lid. By using an LED matrix backlight, the lid could be much thinner and battery life would be improved to boot. The major constraint here is the iSight camera - but recent rumors suggest that Apple might have a trick up their sleeve which could give us a 3mm thick lid of almost solid aluminium.
     
  17. MarkCollette macrumors 68000

    MarkCollette

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    #17
    Well, I was just trying to find a way to make it thinner, not solve other problems inherent to the design.

    But you just raised an idea in my mind. If flash is getting so cheap, then how much would it cost for a 4 GB ROM? I mean, it doesn't even have to have transistors, but just has to be wired internally, so it's got to be able to be a lot denser than flash. Why doesn't that replace stamped DVDs?
     
  18. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #18
    Understood, but once you started rotating things, you brought it right back to about the same thickness. ;)

    Hard disks are still among the cheapest (per bit) read/write media available, it's only recently that flash has been able to displace them in reasonable sizes (i.e. the nano). DVD-Rs are unlikely to be displaced for a while since their costs are (as you pointed out) so cheap and they are ubiquitous.

    The cost per bit of PROM (programmable ROM) is actually higher than that of flash. I think, again, a little thing called volume comes into play. I also think the cost of setting up a chip fabrication plant is quite a bit larger than a CD plant, so it's unlikely there will be a big market for a "new non programmable ROM" when you can make a killing on flash.

    Holographic media here we come. ;)

    B
     
  19. janstett macrumors 65816

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    Jan 13, 2006
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    Chester, NJ
    #19
    All true, but if you want to play in the ultraportable market, that's what's important -- smallest possible size, lightest possible weight. Most ultraportables (such as IBM's and Sony's that I mentioned) typically have a detachable "media slice" which contains the optical drive when/if required. Most ultraportable users don't need them -- you use it for installing software and then it's pretty much dead weight. And they also offer features unheard of in a Mac portable -- modular drive bays (upgradable optical drives, 2nd battery, 2nd hard drive), external 2nd battery slice, expandable battery (4 cell or 8 cell).

    I'm looking at an Ultrabay Slim device right now and put it next to my Macbook pro. It's 9mm thick and roughly 1/2 the height of the Macbook base. It would easily fit in the MBP.
     
  20. matticus008 macrumors 68040

    matticus008

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    #20
    But who said Apple wanted to play in the ultraportable market? I thought the idea was making the slimmest, lightest, full-featured notebooks. That means optical drives, full size keyboards, and fairly large displays.
     
  21. janstett macrumors 65816

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    #21
    Anyone with a 12" notebook product is trying to play in that market, defacto. There really isn't such a thing as an ultrapowerful 12". That's what 14"-15" laptops are for. When you get to 17" and up, they're so heavy and large that they only make sense as desktop replacements. I have an HP Pavillion "laptop" which I call a "backtop" because it weighs nearly 8 pounds and uses a desktop processor. But it does have a gorgeous 17" 1680x1050 display.

    Anyway, I don't see much of a market (or a point) to a "loaded" 12" notebook. It's all about portability in that segment.
     

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