updated 11:00 am EDT, Mon October 18, 2010
SanDisk pSSD and Samsung drive for MacBook Air
Apple's new MacBook Air may go lean by relying on relatively unused SSD technology, a tentative note by Lazard Capital investment analyst Danile Amir. Apart from backing a 11.6-inch model and SSD-only storage, he was told by an unnamed source that SanDisk and Samsung would supply at least 64GB and 128GB drives. Amir expected the drives would be relatively cheap at $100 to $200 in raw costs versus several hundred dollars, as in the past.
If true, the SanDisk part would likely be an updated version of the pSSD. The add-in SSD card was originally intended for netbooks but could provide a significant kick in performance to a larger ultraportable, even with the thin design Apple demands. It can sometimes be faster than traditional SSDs through a large cache, but with capacities no larger than 128GB, Apple wouldn't see a gain in storage over the 1.5-year-old current model. Some systems are already using pSSDs, such as the Sony VAIO X and certain versions of the ASUS Eee PC T91MT.
Samsung's contribution isn't known but may help Apple get beyond 128GB if space allows. SanDisk would be a new partner for Apple and might help allay the flash memory crunch that often happens at Samsung. About 700,000 to 900,000 MacBook Air systems could ship in 2011 with SanDisk drives, but Amir didn't hear how many models Samsung would contribute.
It's unclear whether or not the Lazard Capital report is accurate. The prototype photo showed Toshiba flash memory chips and a matching Toshiba controller, but it also dated back to April or earlier, well before the finished model's anticipated fall release date. SanDisk and Toshiba also regularly partner together on flash memory advances.