Apple could switch its NAND flash provider for the upcoming MacBook Airs expected around July 14 (which is the same release date for Lion as well), Japanese blog Macotakara.jp reported today. The report quotes unnamed parts makers in Asia who claim the Cupertino firm will adopt the latest NAND flash chips manufactured on a 19-nanometer process and soldered directly onto the motherboard. The current Air lineup uses an mSATA connector to connect SSD storage to the motherboard (only the RAM chips are being soldered directly onto the board). Dubbed Toggle Ddr2.0, the new technology is said to provide data transfer rates of up to four hundred megabytes per second. This technology has been ratified by Open NAND Flash Interface Working Group in March of this year under the ONFI 3.0 moniker.
Improvements in ONFI 3.0’s NAND interface speeds let NAND controllers achieve similar performance with half the number of channels, providing for both cost and space savings. The technology reduces the number of pins on NAND chips thus making the routing more efficient. The chips are cheaper to manufacture and sport significantly greater data transfer speeds compared to today’s technology aimed at the consumer segment of the market. If the rumor is true, expect new MacBook Airs to be even more nimble and with shorter boot and application loading times compared to the current-generation lineup. Don’t take the rumor for granted, however…
Samsung and Toshiba which control the biggest chunk of the NAND flash market, have not yet joined the ONFI 3.0 initiative, casting doubts on the report. Among others, current ONFI 3.0 backers include chip makers Micron, Intel, Spansion and SandForce. Apple buys flash storage for the ultra-thin notebook from its frenemy Samsung. Previously, the company was using slower SSDs in Airs from Toshiba, but switched to newer chips from Samsung in April of this year. Those SSDs do manage up to 260MB/s read and 210MB/s write speeds, but this is substantially below the ONFI 3.0’s four hundred megabytes per second promise. There has been some speculation that Apple could utilize NEC’s latest CAM chips in future Airs as well. NEC’s technology enables a dramatic jump in power requirements and data transfer speeds said to be in the neighborhood of RAM chips. Apple could also source latest SSD chips from SanDisk or Intel as well.
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