Apple MacBook Air Laptops Sport Samsung SSDs

Solid-state drives with faster read and write speeds have been discovered inside newer models of Apple's thin, lightweight laptop.

Chandler Harris, Contributor

April 19, 2011

2 Min Read

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When Apple revised its new line of MacBook Air laptops in October 2010, it included solid-state drives (SSDs) made by Toshiba. Yet a recent finding has discovered a new drive has been circulating in the Air laptop that appears to be made by Samsung and has 20% to 25% faster read and write speeds.

While Apple did not return calls or verify the existence of a replacement drive, a drive model reading SM128C, which is believed to be a Samsung SSD, has been found in newer MacBook Air laptops by AnandTech. The original Air featured Toshiba's slim Blade X-gale SSD, with the drive model of TS128C.

According to AnandTech's test of the drives, the SM128C drive has a read speed of 261.1 MB per second and a write speed of 209.6 MBps, which are 24% and 19% faster, respectively, than the Toshiba drive. The SM128C also supports native command queuing, AnandTech reported. These performance figures, as well as the "SM" in the model name, are in line with the performance of the Samsung 470 series SSDs.

Samsung's 470 series drives are available in 256 GB and 128 GB versions. Samsung details a 250 MBps read rate and 220 MBps write rate, along with 0.24 watts active power consumption and 0.14W when idle.

Toshiba's Blade X-gale is no slouch either, with a maximum read speed of 220 MBps and a maximum write speed of 180 MBps. The 64 GB and 128 GB models weigh 0.35 of an ounce, while 256 GB version weighs 0.47 of an ounce. It is also 42% thinner than the typical mSATA SSD used in portable computers.

If the SSD found in the new MacBook Air is indeed Samsung, it questions the competition Samsung has created between its Samsung Series 9 laptop and the MacBook Air. Samsung claims its laptop, which contains the Samsung 470 128-GB SSD, is slightly lighter than the Macbook Air.

Apple introduced the MacBook Air in October 2010 as the smallest and thinnest computer on the market. The Air and Samsung Series 9 laptop use SSDs instead of hard disk drives (HDDs) to provide instant-on capabilities, faster performance, and longer battery life. However, SSDs are also much more expensive and generally have less capacity than HDDs.

Regardless of which drive you may find in the new MacBook Air, the speed difference isn't significant and so far no confirmation exists regarding whether the SSD is indeed Samsung. For now, the only way to find out if the Air is using the SM128C SSD is to pull it out of the box and take it apart.

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