Latest MacBook Pro 15 gets blazing SSD performance thanks to 4-channel PCIe (updated)

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Update: It appears this may be a function of the 1TB drives fitted to both 13- and 15-inch models. The reason for this isn’t yet clear: it may be the drives used offer greater bandwidth.

Benchmark tests by French site Mac4Ever show that the latest MacBook Pro 15 is delivering SSD read and write speeds in excess of 1GB per second. The site repeatedly achieved these speeds when Apple claims only “up to 775MB per second.”

The MBP 15 is able to achieve these speeds because it has a 4-channel PCIe connection to the SSD, in contrast to the 2-channel link on the MBP 13 and MacBook Air models, though from some reader reports this may be the case only on models fitted with 1TB drives …

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iFixit investigates the innards of the new iMacs, spare SSD slot now standard in all models

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iFixit has taken a look at the newly-released generation iMacs, tearing down both the 21.5 inch and 27.5 inch variants. Although most of the internal structure is the same, which is to be expected given that the new iMacs have retained the same casing, there are some small differences.

iFixit points out that the 21.5 inch iMac now includes a Fusion Drive SSD bay as standard, improving future upgradeability prospects of the machine. With last year’s model, this expandability was only available if customers had specifically ordered the iMac with a Fusion Drive originally. As the new drives are now connected via PCIe, third-party drive makers should be able to make appropriate adapters to enable the addition of a second hard drive. Both the 21.5 inch and 27 inch models offer this unused PCIe Fusion Drive SSD port. A picture of the empty port is attached below.

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People are saying the iPod classic dies this year…again

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The iPod Classic is the gadget that refuses to die. Despite containing a hard drive when everything else is flash memory and physical controls when everything else is touchscreen, this 2009 device which isn’t a trillion miles removed from the original iPod design of 2001 remains on sale on the Apple Store to this day.

But not for long, according to Wired. The piece pulls together a whole bunch of commentators who all agree that this will be the year that Apple retires the elderly design. Perhaps they are right, but we can recall a certain rumor-phobe website called for the death of the iPod Classic as far back as 2011:

Specifically, if you want to buy an iPod shuffle or iPod classic from Apple, you should do it sooner rather than later. We’ve heard those two iPods are getting the axe this year [2011].

Ars Technica is also feeling an end to the iPod touch this time.

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27-inch iMac with 3TB Fusion Drive can’t yet do Boot Camp, early adopters frustrated

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As customers begin receiving the new iMac this month, business-end users and gamers may find one issue when booting up their new machine. As reader Michael Verde first shared with us, the built-to-order 27-inch iMac configuration with a 3TB Fusion Drive (an extra $400) will not allow any Boot Camp use. This essentially cuts off access to a full Windows experience that some Mac users may want to benefit from. Many might consider this a bummer, as a sizable amount of users turn to Boot Camp to access necessary Windows programs or just simply enjoy Windows paired with Mac hardware.

Apple highlighted the issue on both its iMac configuration and Fusion Drive explanation page. “Boot Camp Assistant is not supported at this time on 3TB hard drive configurations,” Apple said in buried text. “At this time,” could mean the feature is enabled down the road in a software update, but it is non-existent as of now.

There are virtualization solutions, such as Parelles and VM Ware, that provide a Windows experience, but they do not offer a full experience that many may want. Boot Camp users include gamers who want to run games at full settings and business users looking to use specific business apps in a full Windows environment.

Right now it is not clear what the cause is, or if it has anything to do with Apple’s new Fusion Drive technology, but it seems that Boot Camp is limited to hard drive with less than 2TB of space (PC World has a good explanation for this). Announced in October and shipping in the new Mac Mini and iMacs, the top Fusion Drive configuration provides 128GB of flash storage coupled with 3TB of HDD space. The cheaper configuration, 128GB Flash Storage + 1TB HDD, supports Boot Camp. So, we have to wonder: what is holding back the more expensive configuration? We reached out to Apple for comment.

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As expected new iMac lineup sees delays, shipping in November and December

Apple just finished unveiling its all-new iMac design that we previously unveiled leading up to the event. We told you at the time that Apple is shipping two refreshed models of its 21-inch and 27-inch iMacs, but we would unfortunately likely see delays on at least some models. Apple decided to take the wraps off its refreshed iMacs today, but as we predicted, the models will not ship right away.

Apple did not confirm during the unveiling, but it has now listed the new iMacs on its website with availability dates listed as November for the 21-inch model and December for the 27-inch model. You will no longer be able to get your hands on the last-generation iMac, except through Apple’s refurbished section. Hopefully Apple can get enough of these out before the holidays, especially the 27-inch model that will not ship until weeks before.

Also of note for the new iMacs is the fact that the 21-inch model comes with no user accessible RAM slots, while the 27-inch model has 4 slots accessible from the back of the machine. The 21-inch model is configurable up to 16GB through Apple, but the 4 slots on the 27-inch can handle up to 32GB:

The 21.5-inch iMac comes with 8GB of memory and can be configured online with 16GB. On the 27-inchiMac, 8GB of memory comes standard, and you can upgrade to 16GB or 32GB. Configure and buy your iMac at the Apple Online Store and it will arrive with the memory already installed. Or add more memory to the 27-inch model yourself by popping open the easy-to-access memory panel on the back.

You can get full details on the all-new iMacs in our full coverage of the unveiling here.

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iPhone PRO concept features 4.5-inch edge-to-edge screen and DSLR lens mount

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This “iPhone PRO” concept from designer Choi Jinyoung (via Plusmood) takes the 4.5-inch edge-to-edge rumors to another level with the addition of “Pro” features including a 1.2-megapixel 3D camera, mount for DSLR lenses, a removable hard disk, and a built-in projector system. Go past the break for a full gallery.
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9to5Toys: Portable USB/SD storage options under $1/GB

From 9to5Toys.com:

A quick roundup of storage options from 9to5Toys at Amazon this weekend:

SDHC Cards:
16GB
Amazon Class 4: $14.38; Transcend Micro Class 4 w/adapter: $12.98 (pictured)
32GB Sandisk Class 6: $29.95  Transcend Class 10: $32.95

USB Sticks:
8GB Kingston:  $6.95
16GB Kingston: $13.99, Sandisk $14.72 Transcend: $13.99
32GB Sandisk: $28.99
64GB Lexar: $61.10

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Here’s a rare prototype translucent Apple hard drive circa 1985

Apple and its cofounder Steve Jobs certainly helped design and popularize storage devices throughout computing history. For example, the Mac mainstreamed Sony’s 3.5-inch floppy drive in the 1980s, but Apple was working on its own storage devices even before the Mac debuted. One of our buddies discovered this eBay listing advertising for what appears to be a prototype of a previously unknown NISHA hard drive adorned with the colorful Apple logo. It comes in a translucent case, and it could easily be the first Apple product we have seen like this, even though it never shipped. It is neither a Hard Disk 20 drive Apple introduced on Sept. 17, 1985 specifically for use with the Macintosh 512K nor is it a Hard Disk 20SC.

The latter product was the first SCSI drive Apple manufactured and deployed on the Macintosh Plus in 1986, effectively obsolescing the Hard Disk 20 unit. It is a safe bet that this unit represents an early prototype of one of Apple’s hard drives, but it could also be a new hard drive design that never saw the light of day. The seller could not tell either, as the drive did not power up. Eagle-eyed readers are aware that Apple of the past had been designing its own storage devices and the aforementioned Hard Disk 20 serves as an illustrious example of the company’s closed approach to hard drives.

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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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Thunderbolt 13-inch MacBook Pro drops below $1000 ($987.99)

From 9to5toys.com:

Update: Drops to $987.99

MacConnection drops the price on the base MacBook Pro 13 inch from $1199 to $999 after a $50 rebate with free shipping.  Even without the rebate, it is the lowest price we could find on a Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro anywhere.  This model includes Intel 3000 Graphics, LED-backlit display, 802.11n wireless, full-size backlit keyboard, Multi-Touch trackpad, FaceTime camera, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, Thunderbolt port, and up to 7 hours of battery life.

Note that this is last month’s  model with a marginally .1GHz slower processor and smaller 320GB HDD which were upgraded slightly a few weeks ago.

You can also pick this up for $929 factory refurbished or $1199 newat the Apple Store. Read more

Hitachi G-Speed series drives and enclosures deliver professional-level reliability and performance

This is a sponsored post

Until recently, I merely thought of Hitachi as the company that builds the OEM hard drives that are found in some Apple and other high end PCs.  It turns out that Hitachi makes very high quality enclosures for those same hard drives that companies like Apple demand for their machines.

Hitachi’s drives that range from the G-Drive portable hard drives (which I reviewed earlier this year, above) to the newer G-Speed for high end A/V professionals.  Take for instance the G-Speed FC XL, shown below:

The SAN Ready G-SPEED FC XL offers industry leading Fibre Channel performance and easily supports multi-stream ProRes, uncompressed HD and 2K Film video editing work flows. A 16-drive G-SPEED FC XL connected to a dual-channel 4 Gbit Fibre Channel host bus adapter will pump out over 550 MB/second to support the most demanding post production environments.  Upgrade mini SAS model,  back panel below, and expect up to 800MB per second.   That’s uncompressed 60 frames 1080P with room to spare and virtually unlimited space for drives with its stacking functionality.

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