The MacBook Air Samsung SSD is about to get twice as fast

I had a chance to meet with Samsung Storage solutions at CES 2012 this week and got the low down on its new OEM SSDs that Apple tends to buy in large numbers.  Samsung and Toshiba are the OEMs that provide the SSDs in MacBook Airs.  Samsung’s 470 OEM SSD product is noticeably faster than the Toshiba model that Apple also puts in otherwise identical MacBook Airs.  We have talked about the speed difference before and how Air-buyers often will pay a premium for the faster Samsung drives.

Well, the speed difference is about to get even more noticeable. Samsung told me that it sold out of the 470 series OEM SSDs late last year and the company only makes a much faster variety: the 830 series.

How fast is the 830 Series controller/chips?  I had a chance to speed test the popular 2.5-inch 830 model late last year when it debuted.  Typical speeds were over 400MB/s write and 500MB/s reads (below, left).  That is almost twice as fast as the current MacBook Air SSD from Samsung (below, right), which itself is significantly faster than Toshiba’s SSD.

Samsung stopped short of announcing it is shipping the 830s to Apple, but the company confirmed it ran out of 470s a while ago and all of its SSD customers were receiving the updated 830 series. Samsung also confirmed that Apple is still a customer.

Today I ventured to the Las Vegas Apple Store to check the speeds of the MacBook Airs.  I checked a new 128GB MacBook Air right out of the box which had the same “APPLE SSD SM128C” listed in System Profiler as my year-old Air.  I checked the speed and it is indeed the old disk (same as above, right), which means the new Samsung SSDs haven not hit stores —at least here anyway.

Theoretically, a few things could happen at this point…

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OWC puts together Mac Mini Stack Max: USB 3.0, 4TB 3.5 inch drive, eSATA and more

We love this add-on to the Mac Mini that turns it into more of a pro-device (and a cube!).  The business up front is a DVD-R drive (not sure about BluRay) and an SDXC card reader that complements the one on the back of the mini. On the rear, you get a high power USB source for quick-charging an iPad as well as a few USB 3.0 ports that require separate drivers.  Also on the back is an eSATA port for fast external peripheral support as well as two Firewire 800 ports. Inside, there is room for up to a 4TB 3.5 inch hard drive which you can order with the Mini Stack Max or you can bring your own.

This is interesting because it is moving the Mini more toward a pro-like setup.

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OWC has not put a price on the Mac Mini Stack Max but expects them to be available in March. Read more

More ThunderBolt at CES 2012: Western Digital shows impressive speeds, Hitachi shows pro setups and Seagate shows off sleds

I had some time to demonstrate some of the upcoming Thunderbolt accessories from external drive makers at CES earlier today. We briefly discussed a few others from OCZ, LaCie, Belkin and Elgato earlier in the week. First up is the Western Digital MyBook Thunderbolt Duo:

These are going to compare nicely to the Promise RAID setup that has similar speeds, but it does not have a price or release date yet.  The vibe seemed to be like Q2 with perhaps an announcement at Macworld.

Next up is the Hitachi G-Drive series of Thunderbolt Drives, and these drives are 8TBs…

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Forrester: Apple increases penetration in corporate market potentially worth $19B in 2012

Forrester just published its Global Tech Market Outlook for 2012 and 2013 where the research company argued that Apple —not cloud computing as a whole— will “reshape the computing equipment market.” The study cited the adoption of iPad and Macs among professionals as proof that Apple is “dramatically disrupting” the corporate market traditionally dominated by Microsoft, Dell, Lenovo, and HP. In 2012, estimates showed Apple could potentially sell $9 billion worth of Macs and $10 billion worth of iPads to the corporate market alone.

Analysts have been predicting that cloud computing — specifically, infrastructure-as a service (IaaS) — will reshape the server and storage market… Actual adoption of IaaS remains limited…The biggest disruptive force in the computer equipment market thus is not IaaS, but Apple. This is a surprise, because Apple has not and does not directly address the corporate market, while turning a wide variety of consumer technology markets upside-down. But its rapid growth in the corporate market has been the big surprise of 2011, and it will be even more of a factor in 2012.

By measuring the number of Apple OS-powered devices and supported tablets for 2010 and 2011, Forrester estimated Apple will sell $6 billion worth of Macs and $6 billion worth of iPads to the corporate market in 2011. The research company expects that number to more than double by 2013 to $12 billion worth of Macs and $16 billion worth of iPads.

As part of the report, Forrester outlined some of the areas where Apple is excelling in capturing the corporate market. While reminding us that the research includes iPads in the PC category, Forrester attributes Apple’s penetration into IT departments with orders for tens of thousands of iPads from Fortune 500 companies. The report also noted that professionals are increasingly urging their employers to fund and support Apple products with a growing number of iPads and MacBooks used by company executives. Forrester explained:

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China Labor Watch and authorities probe Apple supplier factory blast, aluminum dust linked to explosion

Local government authorities are investigating last weekend’s explosion that injured 61 people at the Shanghai factory of  an Apple iPad 2 back-panel supplier after much outcry from China Labor Watch.

CLW was founded in 2000, according to their website, and it is an independent not-for-profit organization that has collaborated with unions and labor organizations to assess factories in China.

The Dec. 17 blast at Ri Teng Computer Accessory Co., owned by Taipei-based Pegatron Corp., was similar to the explosion at a Foxconn Technology Group facility in May, according to a Dec. 19 statement from CLW.

“The blast in Riteng is a result of aluminum dust in the workshop where ipad cases are polished,” said CLW in its press release. “A similar blast happened in the same workshop of a Foxconn’s factory in Chengdu, killing 3 workers and hurting another 15.”

CLW said there was “a lot of aluminum dust in the workshop,” but apparently, the workers were not aware of the “potential danger before the blast.”

The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration said aluminum dust is highly combustible, according to its online health guidelines. The administration stressed the need to take special precautions in handling the substance in occupational settings.

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Carrier IQ is on some iOS devices, but doesn’t appear as nefarious as on other platforms

The bad news is that yes, Carrier IQ is running on iPhones right now, as we speak.  Carrier IQ, you’ll recall is the rootkit that Carriers put on many of their phones to monitor customer usage.  As a security researcher found out, Carrier IQ monitors keystrokes and sends that back to its own servers.  On Apple’s devices, it appears to have been cut off from such activities.  Developer chpwn breaks it down:

Carrier IQ, the now infamous “rootkit” or “keylogger”, is not just for Android, Symbian,BlackBerry, and even webOS. In fact, up through and including iOS 5, Apple has included a copy of Carrier IQ on the iPhone. However, it does appears to be disabled along with diagnostics enabled on iOS 5; older versions may send back information in more cases. Because of that, if you want to disable Carrier IQ on your iOS 5 device, turning off “Diagnostics and Usage” in Settings appears to be enough.

So it appears that on iOS it stores less information, and it doesn’t seem to be sending anything as long as ‘Diagnostics and Usage’ (iOS 5) is turned off – which is the default (you are asked to enable it during the iOS5 setup). On older versions of iOS, especially v3, it appears to be sending data without a toggle.

Verizon representatives have said that they do not run Carrier IQ on their devices which include iPhones, iPads, and Android, Blackberry and other devices.  Other carriers have yet to make a statement on the matter but Carrier IQ brags on its homepage that it tracks information on 141 million devices (and counting) which is about half of the US population.

On iPhones where Carrier IQ is activated, it appears to send the following information back to the servers: Read more