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Data Storage Portables (Apple)

Toshiba Begins Selling MacBook Air SSD 162

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the double-it-please dept.
Lucas123 writes "Toshiba has made the solid state drive used in the new MacBook Air generally available for use by equipment manufacturers. At just 2.2mm thick, the company said the drive represents a new form factor that is about one-third the thickness of a thin hard disk drive and that is 42% smaller than even a mini-SATA SSD module. The new Blade X-gale SSD series has a maximum throughput of 220MB/sec. and can store up to 256GB of data."
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Toshiba Begins Selling MacBook Air SSD

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  • First sale! (Score:2, Funny)

    by line-bundle (235965)

    Now where do I install it?

    • by jgagnon (1663075)

      Into your iPhone, of course!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rvw (755107)

      Now where do I install it?

      Up your airs of course!

    • by sqldr (838964)
      while we're on the subject, my colleague turned up to work with one of those macbook air machines today. It's very thin.. in fact, if you close the lid, you can use it as a mouse mat for your PC.
  • I've been pricing out a new laptop, and I've love to get one with SSDs, but DAMN they're expensive. I'd rather engineers focus on reducing manufacturing costs than making them smaller. A better headline would be "Toshiba SSD 1/3 the PRICE".

    And, Microsoft needs to figure out that people want to stick an SSD and traditional hard drive in their laptops, so Windows needs better support for moving the Users directory (you can do it but it's "unsupported").

    • How can it be unsupported?

      I assume you can't copy your own userdir while logged in, but what prevents you from doing it from an admin account?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DJRumpy (1345787)

        It's not a matter of physically moving the directory. It's a matter of most programs looking in a default location for said user folder. They need a simple control panel tool to change the location of default folders. They offer some for subfolders like My Documents, but they lack the means to simply move the entire root of the users folder.

        • by Amouth (879122)

          which is why you just use Junction points to other disks.

          Sorry i've been doing this on desktops since NT5 Beta..

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTFS_junction_point [wikipedia.org]

          sure it takes a little work - and you can't do it right at install - but it isn't that much work, and you have the added benefit that you don't have to care if devs are stupid and hard code paths in their software.

          • by DJRumpy (1345787)

            Which is why I said they need to offer this simple functionality via a tool in the control panel. They made this somewhat easier in Windows 7 for folders like My Music by right clicking the folder and drilling down to the option to move it, but there is no simple tool to do this presented to the end users.

            It's one of the things I love about Linux is the fact that you an set the root for common locations right in the setup process. Windows offers this via mount points, but that's hardly something your grandm

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Amouth (879122)

              Windows XP supported moving your My Documents folder (via a tab on it's properties if you right click on it from the start menu).. and it would move the folder and it's contents and update the system link.

              and having theses options available at setup - while nice does not at all deal with the issue of applications that don't pay attention and just feel everything should be where the default would be.

          • by wbo (1172247)

            which is why you just use Junction points to other disks.

            Sorry i've been doing this on desktops since NT5 Beta..

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTFS_junction_point [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org]

            sure it takes a little work - and you can't do it right at install - but it isn't that much work, and you have the added benefit that you don't have to care if devs are stupid and hard code paths in their software.

            Actually you can instruct the installers for Vista and Windows 7 to put the Users folder which holds all of the

        • There's a registry key for the location of each user's profile. Login as admin, move the profile and update the key. So far as ease of use is concerned yes there could be a more user friendly method.
    • by Amouth (879122)

      I'd rather engineers focus on reducing manufacturing costs than making them smaller.

      While i understand your meaning of that argument - a lot of people don't realize that the smaller the size the higher the density.

      when building chips - the area of the chip is a good reflector of it's cost to manufacture.. by making chips higher density and smaller they are allowing for more storage space for a given physical space and lowering the $per GB.

      but i agree they still have a long way to go to compare cost wise to spinning disks.. but then again spinning disks also have a good 30+ years on them

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Great! Where can I get my BigFoot (5.25 form factor, 1/3 height) SSD for 1/2 to 1/3 of the regular SSD cost?
        • by Amouth (879122)

          thats completely different.. for IC's the higher the density the cheaper (to a point) to make

          for spinning platters during the BigFoot times.. the lower the density the easier and cheaper to manufacture.

        • by node 3 (115640)

          I'm sure they could make a 2-20GB SSD for much less than the Bigfoot drives costed, and they won't need to be 5.25" form factor either.

          Besides, you have it backwards, smaller physical SSD chips are cheaper. With silicon chips, you generally pay more for surface area than you pay for transistor density. Surface area increases the cost of the chip at an exponential rate per chip. Transistor density primarily increases the cost of the fab.

    • "Windows: moving the Users directory"
      Wouldn't copying the C:\users folder to your SSD and mounting it at C:\users on the real HD as the junction point be the way to do it?

      The OS shouldn't care, NTFS would be doing the "smoke and mirrors" stuff

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Microlith (54737)

        The OS shouldn't care, but Windows is extremely finicky and does all sorts of stupid shit that make installs very, very system specific.

        Linux installs can be moved between machines without issue, Windows absolutely cannot without a LOT of preparation work that basically puts it into a pre-install state.

    • by digitalhermit (113459) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @01:01PM (#34175304) Homepage

      They will get cheaper. I picked up a 60G SSD from Newegg for under $100 after rebate. In a few months I expect that to be the normal price.

      Is it worth it? Hell, yes. For systems where you need a lot of space or battery life isn't an issue, then they're probably not ideal. However, in a netbook they are amazing. I have a Samsung N120 with a 1.6GhZ Atom. With a standard HD, it was boggy. Resuming from suspend would take a minute. Launching apps would take 15 to 30 seconds. After installing the SSD it's like a new machine. Resume takes a few seconds. App launch times is a second or three. Browsing the web is snappier. I.e., anything that does multiple reads from the drive is much faster. If you replaced your standard laptop drive you may not notice it, but replacing a relatively slow HD in a netbook makes a huge difference. On top of it, my battery times climbed to at least 4 hours of constant use.

      BTW, the SSDs run great with bcache/Linux. I'm putting together some benchmarks, but even before I run the numbers I can tell you that CentOS and Ubuntu on an Atom-based machine (a mini-pc form factor) runs incredibly.

      • Yeah, I hear great things about the tangible performance boost you get which is why I'm so excited about trying one out. But if I get an SSD I'll be running some serious disk hog apps on it and I've calculated I'll need about 150 GB for my apps, that's with Vista backups turned off. I've dealt with running a laptop with a HD close to capacity, and I don't want to play that game again.

        • by timeOday (582209)
          Not donwplaying your need for adequate storage, but SSDs cope with running near-full MUCH better than HDDs, since fragmentation is a non-issue.
          • by arth1 (260657) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:26PM (#34181456) Homepage Journal

            Not donwplaying your need for adequate storage, but SSDs cope with running near-full MUCH better than HDDs, since fragmentation is a non-issue.

            Like much common knowledge, this isn't accurate.

            You don't suffer from one aspect of fragmentation -- the heads don't have to move and the disk spin into a new position.
            However, you do still suffer from excessive continuation blocks on a fragmented drive, with both loss of space and a slight loss of speed as a result.

            But even worse, for an SSD is another factor: There's a fixed amount of write cycles per block.
            As a disk gets near full, this causes two problems:

            1. The wear leveling will have less free space to work with, and has to be far more aggressive in moving other already used parts of the disk around. This causes delays (stuttering). If you don't do it that aggressively, it causes the same sectors to be written/rewritten, and the drive wears out.
            2. An SSD can only write to pre-ereased blocks, and only erases whole sectors at a time, not blocks. As a disk gets close to full, the chances of finding free contiguous blocks diminishes, and the firmware will far more often have to reshuffle in order to erase a whole sector for write use. The erase operation is particularly slow, and when writing a single block takes a whole second(!) because a whole sector has to be erased and copied to, you'll feel the pain.

            TRIM helps with the second problem in that you tell the drive which blocks are really free so it can reshuffle and pre-erase sectors in idle time,
            but the effectiveness of TRIM goes down as the disk fills up (there are fewer sectors that can be pre-erased), and on a nearly full disk, it only takes a few minutes of high activity to make the background garbage collection not being able to keep up, and you get serious stuttering as a result. Strange as it may seem, the worst case random write access is far higher for an SSD than for a HDD, and that's where you'll feel the pain as a disk gets close to full.

            In fact, it's recommended to leave parts of an SSD unpartitioned to give the wear leveling and garbage collecting routines more space to work with. ("Good" drives already have 20% or more set aside for a combination of wear leveling, garbage collection and bad block mapping, but the current crop of consumer drives only have around 5-7%, and really need more, especially as the drives mature and bad blocks have to be remapped.)

            So no, you shouldn't fill an SSD - at least not if you use it for random write. If you use it for store-once-read-many, it doesn't matter much, but a 98% full OS SSD drive is going to hurt -- bad.

        • by colinnwn (677715)
          The performance of SSDs holds up better than HDDs when run close to capacity, but everything I've read says it is better not to do this because it limits the amount of wear leveling on the memory cells the SSD can do. Even though SSDs are rated in millions of hours of MTBF, that really doesn't mean anything. The memory cells have ~10k write cycles and if you have swap file on, that has to write to the same area because the SSD is almost full, and you use your computer a lot, your MTBF might be a couple year
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SnarfQuest (469614)

      I've been pricing out a new laptop, and I've love to get one with SSDs, but DAMN they're expensive.

      You should price out what an original IBM PC cost. You were looking at $1500 starting price, and that didn't include any kind of floppy or hard disk, and 64K (not M) of RAM. What you paid back then for two floppy drives would probably buy you a decent laptop nowadays. Hard drives started at $10 per M, and 30M was a large drive (in both physical size and storage capacity).

      And you had to walk 30 miles uphill (both ways), in the snow, to get to/from school.

      • by ncc74656 (45571) *

        Hard drives started at $10 per M

        $10 per megabyte? Luxury! [wikipedia.org] $10/MB was probably close to what they would've cost in the late '80s, but not the early '80s. (My first hard drive cost $180 for 40 MB in 1990, and that was for a refurbished drive.)

    • by Twinbee (767046)

      That's one good reason why I never use the users/documents directory.

      I always make my own giant folder, and categorize myself. Everything is inside it, everything. It makes backup far less of a headache too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by icegreentea (974342)
      They didn't try very hard to make these SSDs smaller. This is actually what a bare SSD looks like inside the 2.5" or 3.5" case that you usually buy right now. Most of the space is filler/kinda wasted for the sake of easier adoption (a good decision). These cards are basically what you get when you rip one of those apart and will attach right to a m-SATA (yeah, it's a real standard) interface, instead of going all the way around pretending to be a HD.
      • Maybe so. But it takes someone who is willing to rethink design to break away from the "standard" case size.

        It takes someone like Apple.

        *ducks*

        Sorry, sorry, I know we hate them now. Forget I ever posted this...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by adisakp (705706)
      Making it smaller should reduce costs in the long run. Less PCB, no packaging, fewer components/packaging, cheaper shipping, etc. I'm sure Apple is seeing a cost savings on them vs standard SSD's and it looks like Toshiba is trying to reduce costs even more with volume increases by offering it directly to non-Apple customers as well.
    • by Eil (82413)

      Right now, the biggest complaint that everyone seems to have with SSDs is that they aren't big enough. The SSD manufacturers are in turn reacting to this, producing ever-larger and more expensive drives.

      What's I'd like to see is a push toward faster and cheaper, at the expense of capacity. The average out-of-the-box OS should only take on the order of 10GB of space with a few more GB for common applications. Those with a definite need for greater local capacity (gamers, video editors) can either pay through

      • If you were to have a SSD that small as the main drive in a computer everyone would complain. People expect a laptop to come with enough space to store all their pictures and videos on the computer.
        br. I would like to see them take the optical drive out of laptops and put in a HDD for data along side the smaller SSD for applications.
        • by owlstead (636356)

          Almost all optical drives are generic models with some kind of plastic bezel put on for appearance. If you've got one of those, you can buy a simple HDD bracket from
          NewMode US [newmodeus.com]. Personally I put the SSD in there since I wasn't sure about heat transfer and it saved me from messing up my original HDD bracket. Then boot from USB with GParted Live CD and shrink/copy your system partition from HDD (don't forget to make the SSD bootable) and away you go.

          It would be nice if laptops of the future reserve some space

      • What's I'd like to see is a push toward faster and cheaper, at the expense of capacity.
        Performance and capacity of SSDs tends to be at least somewhat linked, assuming the flash chips themselves are equal and you have a good controller more chips gives you both more speed and more capacity.

        The average out-of-the-box OS should only take on the order of 10GB of space with a few more GB for common applications
        It probably "should" (i'm not a fan of the way software seems to keep growing in size with very little

  • by Pojut (1027544)

    So that whole "proprietary" thing was just a lie?

    • Nope - it's a custom proprietary connector and form factor. Toshiba is making it more widely available in the hope that other laptop manufacturers will buy them.
      • mSata [softpedia.com] was developed by the SATA-IO Group.

        News from way back in 2009 [slashgear.com]...

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)
          Mod parent off-topic / irrelevant. TFA is about Toshiba's Blade X-gale connector / form factor, not about Mini SATA or Micro SATA. If you RTFA, you can see that they are distinct products in Toshiba's SSD lineup [toshiba.co.jp]. Note the 'Custom' in the 'Connector' column for the ones that we are talking about, while the mSATA ones list 'mini SATA' as their interface.
          • Thanks for the correction, the article was not very clear and I thought after reading it the connector was mSATA, with just a longer form factor.

            However the recommendation for an "offtopic" moderation is not very valid, since wrong information can still be on topic... it's not like there is any upward moderation to be undone. You should also have summarized in your subject that it was in fact not an mSATA connector.

            • You should also have summarized in your subject that it was in fact not an mSATA connector.

              I assumed it was adequately summarised in TFS, which explicitly said that it was smaller than mSATA...

  • Looks like different connectors than the standard SATA / micro SATA set, so it won't fit into the huge base of existing laptops. Too bad.

    • Looks like PCI Express x1
      • by pz (113803)

        Looks like PCI Express x1

        This link on Toshiba's web site [toshiba.co.jp] suggests that it is a new connector design. They call it "Custom", although the same page also suggests the interface is still SATA 3G.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Microlith (54737)

          It's a standard called mSATA [serialata.org], and the driver for the interface is Toshiba. The linked PDF is from 2009, so this is not new.

          The only thing new here is that Toshiba and Apple decided to do away with the 2.5" form factor.

    • It's an mSATA. The entire point of these drives is that you don't need to take up a full harddrive slot to use them. If you want a SSD in your current laptop, you can buy one that comes in a 2.5" enclosure (the internals of those are the same as these). Where these shine is future laptops, where hopefully manufacturers will leave space for the extra SSD or something, as well as full out desktops.

      Let's repeat. These are functionally identical to a 2.5" SSD. If you rip a 2.5" SSD apart, you'll find what is
  • But wait...this just in...the new MacBook Air was just replaced 5 seconds ago by a thinner, faster, and better one!
  • That should be enough for anyone.

  • use in other mac's? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fyonn (115426) <dave@fyonn.net> on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @12:59PM (#34175286) Homepage

    so with this tiny form factor, is there any way to install this inside a unibody macbook pro? I'd love to go SSD but want to keep a spinning drive for decent storage capacity, and don't want to lose my dvd drive.

    come on OWC, make it happen! :)

    dave

    • by cerberusss (660701) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @02:01PM (#34176112) Homepage Journal

      so with this tiny form factor, is there any way to install this inside a unibody macbook pro? I'd love to go SSD but want to keep a spinning drive for decent storage capacity, and don't want to lose my dvd drive.

      come on OWC, make it happen! :)

      dave

      Go for a hybrid like the Seagate Momentus XT [cnet.com] (review on CNet).

    • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @02:31PM (#34176652)

      I haven't missed my DVD once since I installed mine. I take that back, someone wanted me to burn them a DVD. I looked at them and asked what a DVD was.

      None of my media is on optical disks. OpenSolaris and XBMC comprise my home media center/server. I have USB boot drives.

      I have a 100GB SSD that OS X boots off of and a 640GB that sits where my DVD used to. I couldn't imagine going back or having it any other way.

      OS X just... boots. From Apple Logo to login screen is amazingly fast (compared to how it used to be).

      • by timeOday (582209)
        Also DVD/CD are slow enough that they work pretty well over USB [newegg.com]. They're powered by USB (no wall wart), and reasonably recent laptops can boot from them too. If you want to watch a DVD on the plane, it also saves battery life to copy it to the HDD before you leave instead of bringing the media along.
    • Last time I opened a Mac laptop (2002 iBook, granted) there was NO significant open space inside.

      This is probably true of laptops in general.

    • Once in a while I see Newegg offers 40gig cards you can put in the Expresscard Slot. I realize that not being the boot drive is part of the equation here, but would there be a noticeable speed-up on the data used on that drive like you'd get with SSD?

  • by kinabrew (1053930) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @06:20PM (#34180120) Journal

    Can we install more than one of these in a system and then configure them like a RAID 0 array?

    I'd like to connect four 250GB SSD modules together to form a 1TB portable RAID 0 SSD.

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