Santa Rosa and Robson question

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by dvader, Feb 25, 2007.

  1. dvader macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2007
    The Santa Rosa Macs are scheduled to be released in May (check out MacRumors homepage).

    It will integrate the Robson Flash technology. My question is does that mean it will have a flash drive?

    Something tells me no, but then then what is this Robson thing?

    I guess I just wanted to know if the May Macs will replace the standard HDD with NAND Flash drives.
  2. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor


    Staff Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    It will have flash memory in addition to a regular hard drive. Flash memory isn't price competitive with traditional hard drive prices yet, so the bulk of storage space will still be a regular hard drive. The flash memory will supplement the existing hard drive and will serve as a quick way to store and access much smaller amounts of data. The machine Intel demoed this technology on a year or so ago had only 128 MB of flash memory.
  3. rdowns macrumors Penryn


    Jul 11, 2003
    Who knows, as flash memory prices are plunging.

    While many people are focused on the implosion of the housing market, another disaster may be lurking. Prices for NAND flash memory -- used in digital cameras and some MP3 players -- have been collapsing this year, falling by roughly 50% in the past two months. As a result, NAND flash memory maker SanDisk (Nasdaq: SNDK) announced Friday that it is cutting prices of its products by 30%-40% from Q4 levels and laying off employees in the hopes of saving $30 million-$35 million per year.
  4. macrumors 65816

    Nov 10, 2006
    Robson Technology will basically integrate some flash memory directly on the motherboard. My understanding is that this cache will stored mainly operating system files and other files that you constantly access. This way you will have to access the HDD less frequently which will save power. I don't think this is quite the same thing as hybrid HDDs which integrate flash memory into the HDD. I believe hybrid HDD uses their flash memory as a cache more in the traditional sense in that all your most recently accessed files will be buffered there. Robson will likely target the OS and critical applications rather than documents, videos, and such. Robson requires OS support, which is one of the features of Vista, and presumably Leopard will support it too, although I haven't heard any official announcements yet. I believe Intel was originally thinking Robson will come in 128MB and 256MB sizes for the high end, but that may now be bumped up to 256MB and 512MB. I guess it mostly depends on the individual motherboard designers and their price range. The size probably also depend on how much Vista can realistically use (since the benefit will taper off as you get larger) compared to how much OS X can realistically use when implemented by Apple.
  5. Multimedia macrumors 603


    Jul 27, 2001
    Santa Cruz CA, Silicon Beach
    Just Bought SanDisk 4GB MSPro Duo™ Plus Adaptor For Net $60 After $20 Rebate At Fry's

    I just bought a SanDisk 4GB Memory Stick Pro Duo™ PLUS a Memory Stick Duo Adaptor in the same package at Fry's yesterday for $80 - $20 rebate net $60. On the Web it says this product sells for $170 at Circuit City. I guess the price drop is already in effect. :) That's about a 65% price reduction. :eek: ;)
  6. iW00t macrumors 68040


    Nov 7, 2006
    Defenders of Apple Guild
    I hope Apple would implement it in a more "open" manner. Rather than having flash memory cards that are installed on the MLB perhaps they can make a discrete USB port that is obscured by a small latch. Undo the latch and plug in the usb thumb drive for extra goodness :cool:
  7. BigPrince macrumors 68020

    Dec 27, 2006
  8. dvader thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2007
    One of the downsides about the Flash technology is that they have a limited number of read/write cycles, approx. 100,000.

    For someone like me who is not so tech savvy, this number is somewhat arbitrary, but I read that it's a far cry from the number that HDD have.

    My question is if OS files (i.e. Leopard) are stored in Flash for the upcoming Santa Rosa MBPs, will the OS suddenly stop working after the 100,000 limit is reached?

    Even if Leopard isn't stored in Flash but rather in a HDD, will Leopard suddenly start booting more slowly once the 100,000 read/write cycle limit is reached?

    I'm wondering if the "magical" 100,000 read/write cycle limit applies for Intel's Santa Rosa with Robson MBPs.

    Thanks for being patient with my naive questions.
  9. princealfie macrumors 68030


    Mar 7, 2006
    Salt Lake City UT
    Actually the number of read-/write cycles have been increased up to 750,000 cycles nowadays. I wouldn't worry about that honestly. That's the worst case scenario.
  10. dvader thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2007
    Oh okay, but just curious, do you know what it is for HDD?
  11. macrumors 65816

    Nov 10, 2006
    The Robson memory wouldn't be used to replace the HDD. In theory the flash memory and the HDD would be synchronous almost all the time. The cache would mainly store OS and Application files which are stuff that are usually only read and not modified. If you do change a setting and then the cache somehow got wiped before it updates the HDD, the worst that can happen is you lose your most recent settings, but it shouldn't crash your operating system. I suppose the caveat is that it crashes as it's updating since that would corrupt the file being updated on the HDD. But, those can probably be repaired.

    As mentioned, the lifecycle of flash memory is pretty good these days and it's really only writing that degrades the cache. As I mentioned before, if most of the access is only reading then it shouldn't be much of a problem. I guess a 5 year lifespan may be a reasonable target, and after that, the computer's pretty outdated anyways and will still run from the HDD.

    In terms of using USB keys to replace integrated memory, that's basically what Vista is doing. However, the performance isn't as great do to latency concerns with going through the USB controller then the internal memory key controller, etc. All those extra paths also use power, which is what Robson Tech is trying to save. The performance of USB keys also varies and the types of files they can store is limited because of the uncertain reliability and the chance that it can be disconnected.
  12. BigPrince macrumors 68020

    Dec 27, 2006
    I am sure that with even the 750k Limit, it will be utilized in such a fashion that this would not be a problem or they will still improve it or both.

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