Macbook Air now featuring faster SSD drives

Kristian Vättö over at AnandTech is reporting that Apple is no longer using the Toshiba Blade X-Gale Solid State Drive (SSD) for its MacBook Air laptop and has, instead, switched over to using faster drives which are possibly made by Samsung. When iFixit took apart one of the devices, they confirmed that Apple was using Toshiba made TS128C drives, however, SM128C's have been found in a few, more recently built machines. While it has not been possible to confirm if Samsung are behind these, it's pretty safe to assume they are since the 'SM' part almost always represents Samsung on any drive or device.

AnandTech tested the performance of the two drives and found there is a significant speed boost with the SM128C, writing nearly 35MB per second faster. The new SSD has another advantage over the previous one, Native Command Queuing (NCQ), which is a feature added to new devices allowing a hard disk to "internally optimize the order in which received read and write commands are executed" resulting in more efficient speeds.

There is no way to confirm if these are Samsung drives unless Apple makes an announcement, however, all the evidence supports this notion and the SM128C does appear to be noticeably faster in reading and writing data.

Image Credit: Lowendmac & AnandTech

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Trim Support Enabler for Apple laptops with SSD.

TRIM is a command designed to fix a problem whereby over time the write performance of a SSD starts to degrade to as little as 50 per cent of its original speed. Unfortunately, TRIM isn't supported on a lot of operating systems, and while newer drives boast their own technologies to combat this problem with relying on the OS, older drives rely on TRIM being supported. Apple plans to rectify this with the upcoming release of Mac OS X Lion (and possibly in the next update for Snow Leopard too), but there's still no guarantee it'll support TRIM on non-Apple SSDs...

TRIM in Lion beta is only for Apple SSD.

This patch works in Lion beta to add support for all SSD's. So unless Apple changes anything, this patch will become really useful in the future and not just a way to get TRIM a couple of months earlier right now.

http://www.groths.org/

jasonon said,
holy cow thats fast! windows hardware makers need to step it up

"Windows hardware" is already much faster for a long time.

jasonon said,
holy cow thats fast! windows hardware makers need to step it up

Those are Windows Hardware Makers; they also make hardware for other OS's too... On another point, there are faster SSD drives available (in a different form factor) for installing in your non-Apple PC/Laptop/etc...

i don't understand what advantage NCQ provides on a random access devices like SSDs. the whole point of NCQ is to optimize the travel path of the read-head on drives with platters for random access reads. SSDs are random access by nature, there's absolutely no difference whether it's reading "sequentially" or "randomly" - it's all random, same speed.

If I was to buy an Air now and discovered they'd sent me the TS128C model instead of the faster SM128C model, I'd demand them to sort it out somehow.

King Mustard said,
If I was to buy an Air now and discovered they'd sent me the TS128C model instead of the faster SM128C model, I'd demand them to sort it out somehow.

ya but you aren't suppose to know

warwagon said,

ya but you aren't suppose to know

Don't you check which HD is installed in a laptop you buy ? Are you checking just the size ?

King Mustard said,
If I was to buy an Air now and discovered they'd sent me the TS128C model instead of the faster SM128C model, I'd demand them to sort it out somehow.

Ok, you do remember that these are made by Apple right? They don't want you to know what is inside and don't care if you get the faster one or not, cause they are Apple.

thenetavenger said,

Ok, you do remember that these are made by Apple right? They don't want you to know what is inside and don't care if you get the faster one or not, cause they are Apple.

Well, they aren't selling the spec's of the SSD they are just selling the feature of having an SSD. The MacBook Air is under the niche market of extremely portable laptops. They aren't designed to be upgraded by the user like a standard home or business laptop. The SSD in question is a specialty SSD that you would be hard pressed to buy an upgrade for w/o spending some serious cash on it.

RealFduch said,
Still using cheap slow SSDs for expensive laptops...
OCZ and many others are better.

They're not using traditional 2.5" SSD's

RealFduch said,
Still using cheap slow SSDs for expensive laptops...
OCZ and many others are better.
The macbook air is far from being an expensive laptop

Rudy said,
The macbook air is far from being an expensive laptop

Yes, I also think a minimum of $1000 for an 11-inch laptop isn't expensive.

RealFduch said,
Still using cheap slow SSDs for expensive laptops...
OCZ and many others are better.

And you know for a fact that OCZ can build a part with equivalent specs to these toshiba and samsung drives in the same form factor with the same or lower power requirements, and can supply them in volume?

Does OCZ supply any drives in high volume off-the-shelf computers? I may very well be mistaken but I thought that their main market was enthusiasts.

Stetson said,

And you know for a fact that OCZ can build a part with equivalent specs to these toshiba and samsung drives in the same form factor with the same or lower power requirements, and can supply them in volume?

Does OCZ supply any drives in high volume off-the-shelf computers? I may very well be mistaken but I thought that their main market was enthusiasts.

Um, they are pretty common, and yes they meet the power, size, etc specifications, as the 1.8" HD Form Factor has existed since around the early 90s, and the power consumption is essentially the same on all of these types of drives.

Oh, and yes, Apple was slapping slow SSD drives and slow traditional HD drives in the Airbooks, just like they do with virtually any standard component they use in their products.

1.8" drives are a dime a dozen.

I wonder sometimes if people think Apple invents this stuff that has been around the PC world for ages. Just because something is new to Apple and Apple products, does not mean it is truly new.

thenetavenger said,

Um, they are pretty common, and yes they meet the power, size, etc specifications, as the 1.8" HD Form Factor has existed since around the early 90s, and the power consumption is essentially the same on all of these types of drives.

Apple are not using 1.8" drives in the MacBook Air. It's even smaller than that.

Ugh. Que all the "OMG my Air didn't have this Apple have screwed my over I DEMAND A REFUND whine whine whine" comments.

If you feel your SSD is suddenly too slow, why did you buy one in the first place? It's not like the exact speed of the SSD is a published spec of the Air, so you didn't get screwed over when they started using different ones.

iKenndac said,
Ugh. Que all the "OMG my Air didn't have this Apple have screwed my over I DEMAND A REFUND whine whine whine" comments.

If you feel your SSD is suddenly too slow, why did you buy one in the first place? It's not like the exact speed of the SSD is a published spec of the Air, so you didn't get screwed over when they started using different ones.

Who's whining?

Oops, typo. "Cue all the..."

To quote some dictionary: "A signal, such as a word or action, used to prompt another event..."

I.e., I'm suggesting this will cause people to start complaining (as happens with every silent upgrade), and am urging them to think otherwise.

iKenndac said,
Oops, typo. "Cue all the..."

To quote some dictionary: "A signal, such as a word or action, used to prompt another event..."

I.e., I'm suggesting this will cause people to start complaining (as happens with every silent upgrade), and am urging them to think otherwise.


Everyone else is making a fuss over you preemptively shutting up the whiners. I think it was a good idea, because we all know they're out there.