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Maximum MacBook Air Drive 80GB for Now

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Apr 12, 2001
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Apple is presently offering only two mass storage options for the MacBook Air: a traditional 80GB 1.8" hard disk drive (HDD) and a $999 64GB 1.8" solid state drive (SSD) upgrade. Those interested in upgrading on the size of their MacBook Air drives may have to wait as long as 2009 to get significantly higher sizes.

In its pursuit of thinness, the MacBook Air uses a 1.8" single-platter HDD which measures only 5mm high. While larger capacity 1.8" drives exist, they use double-platter designs which result in an 8mm height. This extra 3mm explains why the 80GB drive is the only HDD option available for the MacBook Air.

Technology, of course, marches forward, but the last we've heard about higher capacity single-platter HDDs came from Toshiba in September 2007. At the time, Toshiba had prototyped a 1.8" HDD that fits 120GB on a single platter, but this drive is not expected to come to market until 2009.

Those who can afford the Solid State Drive (SSD) may be in in some luck, as Samsung did announce (in Jan 2008) that a 128GB SSD drive coming in the "first half of 2008". This 1.8" drive multi-level cell flash drive will be produced in 1.8" 5mm high size, although the announced interface (SATA) is not the same as that used in the MacBook Air (PATA). Pricing has not yet been announced on the 128GB SSD drive, but will certainly carry a significant premium.

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BioChron

macrumors regular
Jun 13, 2006
102
0
Alaska
I wonder how many people are actually going to order the SSDs at this point, seeing as they are so expensive.
 
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syklee26

macrumors 6502
Jul 26, 2005
444
558
by 2009 there will be something like 80gb thumb drive and 200gb SSD anyway.
 
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jciapara

macrumors regular
Jan 25, 2008
103
0
How much would it cost?

128GB SSD?? How much $$$ do you think it would add to the MBA price? As the current one 64GB adds $999.00
 
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drdan

macrumors newbie
Aug 31, 2006
8
0
One would think that an army of extremely well-paid engineers would be able to find a way to get another 3mm out of that design.

The good news is that the price of flash memory is continuing to plummet, and will probably be in the reasonably-affordable range within a couple years. Just in time for the first major rev of the MBA, I reckon.
 
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honeycrisp

macrumors regular
Nov 28, 2007
226
8
Seems to me that 80 GB shouldn't be too bad for what most people will use this computer for. I'm currently only using about 60 GB, and I do lots of stuff...
 
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stoutboy1

macrumors regular
Jul 22, 2007
118
0
this computer just seems like a hard sale with the lack of ports and a drive. Im sure in the beginning itll sale well but I can see sales dyeing off in the future.
 
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nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,196
I don't care too much what options there are now: I'm getting the base HD for starters... then in 12-18 months I'll grab whatever SSD I can afford to drop in. Hopefully 128!

Meanwhile, if I hit 80, I'll offload some things to a portable USB drive, iPod, or Time Capsule. I may come to need more than 80 GB, but I bet I won't need all that stuff all at one time.
 
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frijole

macrumors newbie
Jun 15, 2005
11
0
"...although the announced interface (SATA) is not the same as that used in the MacBook Air (PATA)."

I haven't seen (and couldn't find) any mention of the connection bus of the SSD, whereas its pointed out in a few places the that hard drive option is PATA. I'm betting that SSD-equipped MacBook Airs have a different connector on the MLB, and are SATA.
 
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zlinger

macrumors member
Aug 25, 2007
35
0
Does anyone know whether we will be able to replace the 80HDD with a 128SSD in a year or so? I would hope that the connectors are the same. Open up, remove, and drop in a new one... then format, install OSX.
 
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drdan

macrumors newbie
Aug 31, 2006
8
0
this computer just seems like a hard sale with the lack of ports and a drive. Im sure in the beginning itll sale well but I can see sales dyeing off in the future.

I certainly understand that this computer appears somewhat quirky and impractical today. However, the future of computers is less wires, less drives, more internet and interconnectivity. The "quirks" of this computer are a window into the future of personal computing.

I'd bet that sales of this computer are tepid (reasonable for today's "niche" market) for awhile, and take off in a few years.
 
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numbsafari

macrumors member
Oct 16, 2007
84
0
Media, PA
"...although the announced interface (SATA) is not the same as that used in the MacBook Air (PATA)."

I haven't seen (and couldn't find) any mention of the connection bus of the SSD, whereas its pointed out in a few places the that hard drive option is PATA. I'm betting that SSD-equipped MacBook Airs have a different connector on the MLB, and are SATA.

And I bet you that even if the current drive is (for some strange reason) PATA, Apple won't be hard pressed to get a SATA connector in there.
 
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flinch13

macrumors regular
Jul 4, 2004
129
0
The Macbook Air is certainly an awkward product when it comes to storage. However, it seems that this is just another technology hurtle that good old supply and demand will sort out with time. In 2001, people poo-pooed the iPod because of the high price ($400 for 5gb). Now, that same $400 will get you 160gb AND applecare, along with a much thinner package and a larger color screen. What happened? The technology improved and got much cheaper to make because of market support. If the Air sells in reasonable numbers, we'll see more, better, and cheaper technology like it. Even if it doesn't sell too well it's likely that we'll see similar alterations to other lines or portables by Apple (Read: the slimming of the iMac is in the same vein... slim+small=sexy and (theoretically) efficient).

I'm convinced that Apple is committed to pushing the industry forward. They have to be, otherwise their loyal customer base would not want to buy more of their toys every 2-3 years. We're hooked, and thus, we're subsidizing their research and indirectly producing more products to drool over. Vicious cycle, eh?
 
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numbsafari

macrumors member
Oct 16, 2007
84
0
Media, PA
One would think that an army of extremely well-paid engineers would be able to find a way to get another 3mm out of that design.

The good news is that the price of flash memory is continuing to plummet, and will probably be in the reasonably-affordable range within a couple years. Just in time for the first major rev of the MBA, I reckon.

My guess is that by the time that extra 3mm is engineered out SSD prices will be such that it'll be an afterthought.

SSD is high-end stuff at this point. But as more products make use of it and as production scales up, prices are going to drop. It's just a matter of time. The benefits and the market potential are just too huge.

My only worry is that the drive manufacturers will collude on prices. They've done this in the past with RAM, and it wouldn't surprise me if they do the same here. They know that people are going to eat up SSD. This is a monumental, fundamental shift in the current system design. It's huge. It's going to be BIG money.
 
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zlinger

macrumors member
Aug 25, 2007
35
0
I don't care too much what options there are now: I'm getting the base HD for starters... then in 12-18 months I'll grab whatever SSD I can afford to drop in. Hopefully 128!

Meanwhile, if I hit 80, I'll offload some things to a portable USB drive, iPod, or Time Capsule. I may come to need more than 80 GB, but I bet I won't need all that stuff all at one time.


This might be a useful application to help improve performance and disk efficiency. But I don't know how much though.

"Xslimmer not only frees space wasted by unused code, it can even increase your Mac's performance. Some of our users have reported applications loading in almost half the time, because OS X does not need to analyze Xslimmed applications in search for the most suitable version of the code."
 
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Ha ze

macrumors regular
Jul 30, 2006
202
0
128GB for what, like $1499 upgrade?
This is still going to take a few years, but I think that perhaps the 1.8 HDD platers are finally coming to an end (I hope)
SSD will be here, but like all technology, it comes out in small, expensive, packages, and the size goes up, and eventually the price falls.
 
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weezer160

macrumors regular
Feb 7, 2003
179
1
Wisconsin
Basically anybody who tells you, "It doesn't have x, y, or z" is saying, "It's not for me, but I'm making this statement relevant to everybody else." Nobody can tell anybody what they may or may not use an optical drive for, much less firewire or mundane things that not every body uses.

Besides that, in its form and function, it blurs the line between a MB and MBP design: the MBA has an aluminum case, but a 13" LED display; It has a MB keyboard but is backlit just like the MBP. It's not like Apple is selling a 10" Laptop, with a tiny display and keyboard, wireless G, non-LED display, a video output and a 1.2 Ultra Low Voltage processor for $2,000 plus.

I may not buy one, but I'm not gonna trash it.
 
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Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 19, 2002
38,441
4,952
Los Angeles
To keep up with this cutting-edge technology, Apple is going to continue charging premium prices for these drives. But would we want Apple anywhere but at the head of the pack? Not really.
 
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shadowfax

macrumors 603
Sep 6, 2002
5,849
0
Houston, TX
Why are hard drives always in 80GB, 120GB etc., where as solid state memory comes in slightly more obscure 32GB, 64GB, 128GB etc?

Well, a hard drive is just a platter that can contain a certain density of individual bits, with hardware that reads the platters. They can be of arbitrary size. a lot of different "20 GB" drives aren't even actually the same size as each other. SSD is a lot more like the RAM in your computer, embedded in chips. it's made from collections of chips stamped onto electronics boards, and in such an architecture it is extremely important to have parallelism, symmetry, simplicity, etc. so that collections of chips can be scaled and addressed easily. Does that make sense?
 
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pesc

macrumors regular
Jan 20, 2006
159
0
Bleh. I have 80GB in my three year old 12" PB G4. And it has a smaller footprint than the MBA. And I could upgrade the HD to 160GB if I wanted. Hmmm... maybe I should since Apple doesn't seem to be interested in releasing a laptop I can replace my 12" PB with...

I have $3800 waiting for a suitable PB replacement. If my PB would die today I would buy a used 12" PB tomorrow. :mad:
 
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gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
17,636
4,937
Why are hard drives always in 80GB, 120GB etc., where as solid state memory comes in slightly more obscure 32GB, 64GB, 128GB etc?

About the hard drives: As an example, when Toshiba shipped its 80 GB drive (and the 160 GB, which is basically two 80 GB in a bigger package), the marketing department decided what would be the next size. They decided on 120 GB. They could as well have said 108 GB, or 135 GB, or whatever.

For the engineers it means everything in the 80 GB drive has to be improved: Tracks have to be closer together, bits on a track have to be closer, sometimes this is a gradual improvement, sometimes it is completely new technology. Whatever marketing wants, they will produce, except bigger size takes longer to achieve.

If everybody tried to make 120 GB drives, and you are the only one making 110 GB, you won't sell any. If you are the only one making 130 GB, you will be on the market two months later, so you lose a lot of sales, and once it is out people will think it is an odd size because it is different from anyone else, so people are suspicious (maybe you just count your GBytes differently, and your 130 GB isn't really bigger? That is a risk, I'd rather buy a real 120 GB disk. People make decisions for strange reasons).
 
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