Teardown Confirms Apple Still Using Modular Solid-State Drive on New MacBook Air

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Teardown and repair firm iFixit is well underway on a teardown of the new 13-inch MacBook Air, and while most of the computer's internals are nearly identical to that of its predecessor, a few items of note have been discovered.




- Apple is continuing to use a modular design for the MacBook Air's solid-state storage, meaning that it can be replaced or upgraded if necessary, although it is not officially supported as a user-replaceable component by Apple. A report in the weeks leading up to the machine's debut had claimed that Apple might be shifting to new Toggle DDR 2.0 flash memory, which would be soldered directly onto the motherboard. This is not the case, however, with Apple continuing to use a separate, pluggable board for the solid-state drive.

- A review of the new MacBook Air's wireless card shows two chips from Broadcom: a BCM4322 Wi-Fi chip and a BCM20702 Bluetooth 4.0 chip. As we briefly touched on in our "notes of interest" article yesterday, Bluetooth 4.0 is supported on both the new MacBook Air and Mac mini and offers lower power, decreased latency, and greater security.

- The teardown of course also reveals the new keyboard backlight cable for evenly illuminating the computer's keyboard in dark conditions. The system includes several fiber optic channels to ensure that the illumination is distributed evenly.

iFixit will be looking further into other changes such as the Thunderbolt connectivity to learn what else is behind the updated machine's capabilities.

We'll update this post with any additional information of note as the teardown continues.

Article Link: Teardown Confirms Apple Still Using Modular Solid-State Drive on New MacBook Air
 

nilk

macrumors 6502a
Oct 18, 2007
609
120
Good! A soldered-on SSD would be a fairly bad idea at this point, considering the failure rate of SSDs in general. I'm not too crazy about soldered on RAM, either, as that's a component that fails often as well.
 

cms2

macrumors 6502
Aug 4, 2007
457
0
Texas
Good! A soldered-on SSD would be a fairly bad idea at this point, considering the failure rate of SSDs in general. I'm not too crazy about soldered on RAM, either, as that's a component that fails often as well.
I wasn't aware that the RAM was soldered in (I don't own an Air, anyway), but that sounds like a bad idea, if RAM does frequently fail (I also wasn't aware that it did).

Can I ask what may be a dumb question: Is there a benefit to having items soldered directly to the logic board? Or is it more just that Apple wants you to have to go through their official channels to upgrade/repair the device? Is there an energy saving or power boost inherent in soldering such items?
 

cyda

macrumors newbie
Oct 23, 2010
29
0
I wasn't aware that the RAM was soldered in (I don't own an Air, anyway), but that sounds like a bad idea, if RAM does frequently fail (I also wasn't aware that it did).

Can I ask what may be a dumb question: Is there a benefit to having items soldered directly to the logic board? Or is it more just that Apple wants you to have to go through their official channels to upgrade/repair the device? Is there an energy saving or power boost inherent in soldering such items?
space, i guess
 

PecanEater

macrumors 6502
Apr 11, 2007
283
0
Is there value in sticking with the stock 128GB and then upgrading to 256GB via a 3rd party? or is the Apple charge ($300) for going from 128gb to 256GB reasonable?
 

Tastannin

macrumors 6502
Sep 19, 2003
361
41
UT
Is there value in sticking with the stock 128GB and then upgrading to 256GB via a 3rd party? or is the Apple charge ($300) for going from 128gb to 256GB reasonable?
OWC/macsales.com has their line of Aura SSD's here for the 2010/2011 Macbook Airs. The cheapest one, 180GB, is $399. So, I guess Apple's price is pretty reasonable. For a 240GB Aura, it'd be $519. Ouch.
 
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nooaah

macrumors 68000
Sep 3, 2009
1,600
165
Philadelphia, PA
Is there value in sticking with the stock 128GB and then upgrading to 256GB via a 3rd party? or is the Apple charge ($300) for going from 128gb to 256GB reasonable?
I think it depends on the SSD they're using. You can see a price increase close to that; and knowing that initial benchmark tests show an increase in performance between the 128 and 256, I'd imagine there's more to it than just capacity.
 

Spoony

macrumors regular
Feb 14, 2011
146
0
I know some vendors will upgrade the storage.

Anyone have any links to these vendors?
 

nooaah

macrumors 68000
Sep 3, 2009
1,600
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Philadelphia, PA
OWC/macsales.com has their line of Aura SSD's here for the Macbook Airs. The cheapest one, 180GB, is $399. So, I guess Apple's price is pretty reasonable. For a 240GB Aura, it'd be $519. Ouch.
Yeah, I know Apple gets bad rep for artificially inflating prices but they seem to be keeping it more than fair with their compact lines (iPads and Airs).

Getting my 13" i5 MBA with 256GB on Sunday. :D
 

WardC

macrumors 68030
Oct 17, 2007
2,727
213
Fort Worth, TX
Look closely at the photo of the SSD -- it is now confirmed, it is a Samsung SSD and not a Toshiba, as was used in the 2010 MacBook Airs:

 

Spoony

macrumors regular
Feb 14, 2011
146
0
OWC/macsales.com has their line of Aura SSD's here for the Macbook Airs. The cheapest one, 180GB, is $399. So, I guess Apple's price is pretty reasonable. For a 240GB Aura, it'd be $519. Ouch.
Holy Expensive prices batman. I guess i'll just buy a maxed out one from apple and get an external hardrive for big files / video
 

Hellhammer

Moderator emeritus
Dec 10, 2008
22,166
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Finland

NameUndecided

macrumors 6502a
Mar 28, 2011
747
67
Good! A soldered-on SSD would be a fairly bad idea at this point, considering the failure rate of SSDs in general.
I was under the impression that SSDs were quite a bit more stable and reliable than traditional/older hard drive types. Am I a little bit off on that, or is it that they're more stable, but still with a little bit of a high failure rate?
 

adrian.oconnor

macrumors 6502
Jan 16, 2008
326
3
Nottingham, England
Good! A soldered-on SSD would be a fairly bad idea at this point, considering the failure rate of SSDs in general. I'm not too crazy about soldered on RAM, either, as that's a component that fails often as well.
I have been using computers for decades now, including a 6 month stint at a shop repairing PCs (albeit 13 years ago), and I can tell you that memory does NOT fail often. In fact, I'm not sure I can recall a single instance of memory failing in any of my computers, or those of my colleagues. Memory is pretty reliable.

SSDs shouldn't fail often either, though they're still a bit new to have any meaningful longevity data. Certainly the certified r/w cycles should be plenty to ensure the typical SSD sees many years of service. Nobody I know with an SSD has suffered a single failure yet (admittedly it's a tiny sample size of about 5 drives over 3 years, starting with the original Air).

That said, I do agree a soldered on SSD would be silly. Upgradable/replaceable RAM would also be nice, but I see why Apple can't do that in this case design.
 

stevenpa

macrumors 6502
Jun 28, 2011
291
0
Look closely at the photo of the SSD -- it is now confirmed, it is a Samsung SSD and not a Toshiba, as was used in the 2010 MacBook Airs:

Image
A quick trip to the Apple store will tell you otherwise. Plenty of people reporting they still have the Toshiba drive on this forum as well.
 

stevenpa

macrumors 6502
Jun 28, 2011
291
0
Is there value in sticking with the stock 128GB and then upgrading to 256GB via a 3rd party? or is the Apple charge ($300) for going from 128gb to 256GB reasonable?
A 256GB SSD is around ~$450. It's reasonable (maybe $50 more than it should be but from a manufacturer direct it's reasonable).

Another option would be to wait and hope Thunderbolt external drives are released by the time you need the storage.
 

RichardBeer

macrumors regular
Jul 11, 2009
226
0
England
What exactly is the technical difference between 2.1 and 4.0? I'd like to think that 4.0 is better as it is more recent, but a quick go on google is showing something about use on low power devices.

If it is better than 2.1, then why is the iMac and MBP still using it?
 

Spoony

macrumors regular
Feb 14, 2011
146
0
So the Samsung SSD is faster than the Toshiba SSD?

Is it possible to know which SSD is inside prior to buying?

if not

Is it possible to tell which SSD you have without tearing the aluminum case open? Like in system settings or hardware or whatever.
 
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