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MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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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:
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
 

Poirot818

macrumors regular
Oct 26, 2008
126
0
Thank you. Now that you've posted the story there's a much better chance that the other tech sites will pick it up.
 

nws0291

macrumors 6502a
Apr 24, 2006
590
161
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.
 

Jayomat

macrumors 6502a
Jan 10, 2009
703
0
sorry for the noob question, but is it cheaper for apple to go back to 1,5 ? i guess....
 

D0rk

macrumors member
May 23, 2009
56
0
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.
 

cohibadad

macrumors 6502a
Jul 21, 2007
893
5
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.
 

drew0020

macrumors 68000
Nov 10, 2006
1,908
462
I hope this is correctable with a software fix. Otherwise this is a disgrace Apple!
 

nws0291

macrumors 6502a
Apr 24, 2006
590
161
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.
 

KingYaba

macrumors 68040
Aug 7, 2005
3,414
12
Up the irons
No SSD for you!
 

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Phil A.

Moderator
Staff member
Apr 2, 2006
5,719
2,878
Shropshire, UK
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...
 

NorCalLights

macrumors 6502a
Apr 24, 2006
595
80
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.
 

Unprocessed1

macrumors 65816
Jun 23, 2008
1,378
46
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?
 

WannaGoMac

macrumors 68030
Feb 11, 2007
2,589
3,849
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.
 

alexeismertin

macrumors regular
Jun 2, 2005
240
0
Bristol, UK
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?
 

Fatdog

macrumors newbie
Jun 19, 2003
29
0
Texas
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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