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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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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Last Gen MacBook Airs now start at $699 at Apple Store

From 9to5Toys.com:

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The Apple Store offers discounts on previous-generation, factory-refurbished 3-lb. MacBook Air notebooks, as listed below. Plus, each system, released less than a year ago, qualifies for free shipping and Lion up to Date. At up to $300 off, each model is at the lowest total price we’ve seen. Sales tax is added where applicable. Each item carries a 1-year Apple warranty, the same as new units. Items are removed from The Apple Store when sold out. The laptops (each model listed below features 2GB RAM):

MacBook Air still starts at $849

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For those who missed out on the Black Friday specials, Amazon still offers the entry level Core i5 MacBook Air for $849.99 plus free shipping.  That’s a significant $150 off of retail and the lowest price available.  This latest MacBook Air includes an Intel Core i5 1.6GHz “Sandy Bridge” dual-core processor, 11.6″ 1366×768 LED-backlit display, 2GB RAM, 64GB SSD, AirPort Extreme (802.11n wireless), Bluetooth 4.0, Facetime camera, Thunderbolt port, and Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

Amazon also still has the lowest prices on the entry level MacBook Pro ($1049).  Other price lows (mostly from MacMall) can be found here.
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Sources: Apple scrapped troubled 15-inch MacBook Air for 2010, rebuilding for 2012

The 13-inch MacBook Air of today

Had Apple’s “next-generation of notebooks” announcement in October 2010 played out as planned, the MacBook family of today would look very different. In October 2010, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs took the stage at the Apple Cupertino campus to unveil a preview of OS X Lion, FaceTime for Mac, iLife ’11 and the latest MacBook Air design as the closing “one more thing” announcement. That MacBook Air brought with it an all-new and thinner form-factor, a higher-resolution display, an incredibly light body, a large Multi-Touch single-button trackpad, flash SSD storage, and battery life improvements. 

Those aforementioned features, according to Apple, are what constitute the future of notebooks. This notebook announcement not only brought the successor to the previously available 13-inch MacBook Air, but brought along with it an 11-inch MacBook Air for the first time.

But these new notebooks weren’t the only planned pieces of the late 2010 MacBook Air story, though. Reliable sources have told us that not only were 13 and 11-inch models planned, but a groudbreaking new 15 inch MacBook Air was scheduled for a late 2010 release. Read on to learn about what could have been: 

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New MacBook Air for $899 bundled with discounted $199 AppleCare

From 9to5toys.com:

Getting the holiday shopping season started a little early this year, MacConnection is offering 9to5Mac readers the base model MacBook Air for the lowest price we’ve ever seen it: $899 (10% off) when bundled with a significantly discounted AppleCare which is just $199 (20% off).  The total $1099 price is $150 below the $1250 you’d pay at the Apple Store and over $60 less than we could find it anywhere else.

This latest MacBook Air includes an Intel Core i5 1.6GHz Sandy Bridge dual-core processor, 11.6″ 1366×768 LED-backlit display, 2GB RAM, 64GB SSD, AirPort Extreme (802.11n wireless), Bluetooth 4.0, Facetime camera, Thunderbolt port, and Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.  AppleCare provides Apple’s three year warranty.

Use code 9-5AIRCARE at checkout to get the deal.   Limit 2 per customer, and this will run out soon.

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