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Data Storage Businesses Apple

Apple and LG plan Flash Laptops 197

Lucas123 writes "An article in Computerworld states that Apple and LG each plan to launch new laptops — one that's supposed to ship this month — with hybrid disk drives. The new drives are like hybrid cars in that the NAND flash memory works in conjunction with the spinning disk, kicking in data that can be cached like portions of the operating system, which can make for much faster boot up and resume times."
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Apple and LG plan Flash Laptops

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  • OK Sure (Score:2, Informative)

    by tak amalak ( 55584 ) on Friday March 09, 2007 @12:25PM (#18289890)
    There has been so much speculation, but where's the proof? It'll have to run a slim OS like the iPhone to work well on flash due to the high rate of paging MacOS does. 434 []
  • by Crazy Man on Fire ( 153457 ) on Friday March 09, 2007 @12:35PM (#18290092) Homepage
    The disk dive is a hybrid. It combines a standard platter-based drive with flash memory to hold the stuff used to boot up. This is supposed to improve boot speed.
  • by Maddog Batty ( 112434 ) on Friday March 09, 2007 @12:41PM (#18290188) Homepage
    Adding more ram for a disk cache is a simpler (and often lower power) solution to speed up disk activity.
    Not if your hard drive is switched off (remember this is laptops we are talking about). It takes quite a while and a lot of power for a hard drive to spin up. You can get data from a flash chip within micro secs of switching it on.

    Writing to flash takes power, leaving the flash on [so you can access it] takes power.
    The whole point with flash is that you do not need to leave it on. Once the data is written to it, you can switch it off until the data is needed. RAM needs to have some power (though not much when in standby) to keep the data in it active.
  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Friday March 09, 2007 @12:53PM (#18290362)
    I agree that car analogies often are incomplete, but this is hardly a bad one. You take an electric car and a gasoline-powered car and do an engineering mash-up and you get a car with many of the advantages of a gasoline car (capacity, cost) and many of the advantages of an electric (power consumption, throttle response). You take a platter-based hard drive and a flash-based drive and do an engineering mash-up and you get a drive with many of the advantages of a platter-based hard drive (capacity, cost) and many of the advantages of a flash-based drive (power consumption, latency).

    It's actually not a bad analogy.

    The only thing stranger than all of the car analogies is the impassioned resistance that they invoke.
  • A bit misleading (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 09, 2007 @12:58PM (#18290434)
    The drives in question have only 256MB Flash or so, far too little for any reasonable boot-/resume caching effect with todays OS sizes. Also, reading large amounts of data from flash tends to be slower than sequential reads from the disk anyway.
    It's much more likely that the main use will be as a write-cache to allow to permanently and safely store smaller amounts of data on the drive without having to spin the drive up and thus saving power and reducing noise. A boost in performance in writing randomly distributed small blocks and/or mixed read-/write workloads might be possible as well, as the flash-cache will allow writes to the platter to be reordered for less head-movements/and to interfere less with reading from the disk.
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Friday March 09, 2007 @01:10PM (#18290602) Homepage Journal

    Back in the day, Apple used to ship Macs with a copy of pre-OS X, Mac OS on a ROM.

    Which macs are these?

    I've never seen one.

    The only Apple systems I've ever known to include an operating system (such as it was) in ROM were the Apple ][ series. Macintoshes include functions in ROM, but it's not a complete OS. Amiga used the same approach, only moreso - to the point where an OS upgrade mandated a ROM upgrade.

    I'm willing to be proven wrong, but I've never even heard of such a thing and every Mac I've ever powered up without a valid boot volume just showed me a disk with a question mark on it - and that includes Macintoshes of literally every generation but G5, including the XL (Lisa), doorstop, Macintosh II, Quadra, G3 and G4.

  • by roseblood ( 631824 ) on Friday March 09, 2007 @02:06PM (#18291412)
    According to the powers that be at GRC/SpinRite (the HDD software recovery people) the majority of power consumed in a HDD is very rapid accelerations required to move the read/write head from point to point across the HDD platters. We have a good grasp on how to make great bearings, so keeping a HDD rolling is trivial. Bypassing that whole Force=Mass*Acceleration is going to take a lot more than good bearings.
  • Re:Question (Score:3, Informative)

    by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Friday March 09, 2007 @02:06PM (#18291414) Journal
    NOR Flash:
    More reliable
    Faster reads
    easy to integrate (looks like an sram)
    able to execute code directly from NOR Flash (looks like an sram)
    more expensive

    NAND Flash:
    Faster writes
    PITA to integrate (requires separate controller chip)
    Slower reads
    Inability to directly execute code, must DL to real ram to execute.
    less reliable
    higher density

  • Re:OK Sure (Score:5, Informative)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Friday March 09, 2007 @02:07PM (#18291420) Homepage Journal

    Oh, and can I be the first to coin the term "Flashtops"?

    No. []

  • by MojoStan ( 776183 ) on Friday March 09, 2007 @02:36PM (#18291880)
    "My pc laptop (Dell D600, Win 2k) blows chunks - getting it to go to sleep can take a 30 seconds, wakeup takes about the same, and startup takes more than a minute. Bleah!"

    Sounds to me like your Dell is set to "hibernate" (which actually powers off your computer after saving its "state") and not "standby" (Windows 2000's term for "sleep").

    Hibernate saves the computer's state (including open programs) and memory contents to the hard drive, then powers off the computer. Coming out of hibernation powers on the computer, loads back the saved memory contents from the hard drive, and returns the computer to its previous state. The notebook's battery is not being drained at all while in hibernation because the notebook is actually turned off, not "sleeping."

    "Stand by" in Windows 2000 is like "sleep" in Mac OS. It should take a few seconds, at most, to go into and out of "stand by." I have a Toshiba notebook (Pentium 3) that's much older than your Dell D600 (Centrino era), and it "sleeps" (goes into stand by) and "wakes up" in seconds. Since your Dell uses an Intel Centrino chipset and Pentium M, it should have no problem going into and out of stand by.

    I read about this from Mac users all the time in Slashdot, but I'm certain that almost all of them are confusing "hibernate" and "sleep".

  • by imsabbel ( 611519 ) on Friday March 09, 2007 @02:42PM (#18291978)
    For a 2.5" drive, 1 minute of idle operation costs more energy than a spinup-and down.
  • by Professor_UNIX ( 867045 ) on Friday March 09, 2007 @03:02PM (#18292272)

    Windows or Linux is not limited in any way or inferior to OSX in this regard.
    That hasn't been my experience though. My Powerbook (1.67GHz/1GB RAM) wakes up from sleep in a second, I login (locked screensaver) and I can start browsing the web via my Airport connection in under 3 seconds. On the other hand, my Windows desktop (AMD Athlon XP 2400+ on some MSI motherboard with 2GB of RAM) wakes up from S3 sleep in about 4 seconds to the lock screen, I login, and then I have to wait another 20-30 seconds for the networking to come online, even if I statically assign the IP address to rule out a DHCP issue! My Mac uses DHCP and it works fine waking from sleep though. Don't even get me started on Linux... Linux absolutely sucks for desktop power management uses. The newest Ubuntu on the exact same desktop I use for Windows won't ever go to full S3 standby, it just looks like it blanks the screen and doesn't power down any of the hard drives or fans like Windows does. Yea, I know, go to some web site and grab this or that package and compile this or that to load some custom kernel module that may or may not fix the issue. NO! It should just work! ACPI S3 sleep mode has been out for a long time and the fact that, at least this distribution of, Linux doesn't support it as a standard feature without screwing around is absolutely lame.
  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Saturday March 10, 2007 @12:38AM (#18297442)

    Then there's the non-US market. Yes, Americans want 21" screens, 6 speakers, 200 GB hard drives, and accept 30 minute battery life from their portables (oftentimes too big even for American laps). The rest of the world typically wants really small, really light, just enough computing enough power for on-the-road use, and 12 hour battery life. Thus an ultraportable will fill a huge hole in the Apple product line, one many posters to /. may not even be fully aware of.

    Hey asshole, the US-bashing was completely uncalled for! There's plenty of us Americans who want ultraportables too, you know. In fact, I've chosen to forgo a Mac in favor of a Thinkpad X60, specifically because Apple didn't have anything small enough (or that was a tablet, but that's beside the point).

Reactor error - core dumped!