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Apple and LG plan Flash Laptops

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the what-are-you-wearing-under-there dept.

Data Storage 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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Warranty? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18289854)

I wonder if the hybrid drive warranty in Apple's laptop will conveniently last about as long as the iPod's? Just enough time for the product to break so you have get a new one.

Re:Warranty? (1)

coren2000 (788204) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289876)

How long do ipod nanos last?

Re:Warranty? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18290074)

4GB or 8GB?

Re:Warranty? (1)

coren2000 (788204) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291110)

Both... and 2GB, if you know the answer.

Re:Warranty? (1, Troll)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290084)

I wonder if the hybrid drive warranty in Apple's laptop will conveniently last about as long as the iPod's?
I'm willing to bet that the warranty will be Apple's standard 1 year warranty. If your iPod is breaking after a year, you are abusing it.

Re:Warranty? (1)

empaler (130732) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290116)

That's why I'm happy to live in a country with consumer protection [forbrug.dk] .

Apart from the basic 2-year warranty, I usually by a 4 year insurance anyway - the risk of spilling coffee in a lappy is big enough, along with all the other crap it covers.

Re:Warranty? (1)

norminator (784674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290674)

I wonder if the hybrid drive warranty in Apple's laptop will conveniently last about as long as the iPod's? Just enough time for the product to break so you have get a new one.

Hopefully it's designed so that if the flash fails, it can go gracefully, leaving the spinning disk still useable. Although the flash is probably more reliable than the spinning disk, so maybe that wouldn't matter.

Re:Warranty? (1)

alisson (1040324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291238)

My 3G is still running fine :D As is the HD in my g4 iBook.

No, really. If you just don't sit on they, they last just fine!

Sweet (4, Funny)

danpsmith (922127) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289884)

Let me be the first to say:

<borat>Nice</borat>

We've already got one! (0, Redundant)

scriptedfate (1058680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290052)

<smelly-french-type>It's-a vehrry naice</smelly-french-type>

Re:We've already got one! (0)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290824)

French? Borat is Kazakhstani (Even though the phrases he uses are generally Polish). What the hell does France have to do with it?

Re:We've already got one! (5, Funny)

the darn (624240) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290928)

You have just missed a Monty Python reference. Please turn in your Slashdot card, as well as any and all other nerd paraphernalia.

Re:We've already got one! (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290976)

Okay, I get the 'smelly french type' as Monty Python, but given context of Borat quotes, I'm not sure how you extrapolate mixing Borat quotes with that to be a Monty Python reference.

*returns to pining for the fjords*

Re:We've already got one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18291278)

"*returns to pining for the fjords*"

Careful. It's dangerous to admit you're "pining for the fjords". People might mistake you for being dead.

Re:Sweet (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290078)

closer but not quite there yet.

I mean to that totally static solid state 10 ns 100G storage device...

It's a pity that we have to go through all the intermediary stages before getting
to the 'real thing', but for now we'll just have to settle for the next step.

Anybody remember bubble memory ?

OK Sure (2, Informative)

tak amalak (55584) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

http://www.macworld.co.uk/news/index.cfm?newsid=17 434 [macworld.co.uk]

Re:OK Sure (5, Funny)

tak amalak (55584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289930)

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

Re:OK Sure (4, Funny)

FSWKU (551325) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290624)

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

I think that term is reserved for the ones already using Sony batteries.

Re:OK Sure (1)

zigziggityzoo (915650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290802)

Computers Gone Wild! This gives a whole new meaning to geek porn.

Re:OK Sure (4, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291420)

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

No. [eweek.com]

Re:OK Sure (3, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290132)

It's really too bad. If they had access to the source, they could totally change the way that OSX was paging, in order to work better with swell new hardware.

Re:OK Sure (5, Insightful)

TheNetAvenger (624455) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290320)

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.


I won't comment on OSX's paging, other than it needs a bit of refining as it tends to be over agressive.

However, I think Apple's initial plans are to use the Flash on these drives as more of a Read area for portions of OSX that are accessed at startup or frequently.

As for the lifespan of Flash, if the device or OS is smart enough to not use the same bits over and over and distributes the writes intelligently(Since areas of Flash are fairly equal in speed), then the lower end bits won't get any more use than the top end of the cache, and in theory the flash should last as long as the HD platters. There are also techniques to extend Flash usage by what bits are used and when, so the limited writes are extended beyond just linear write lifespans of the Flash.

Remember the HD Mfrs are not stupid about caching or Flash limits, so this is stuff that people a lot smarter than the average SlashDot reader has already considered and worked around.

Re:OK Sure (5, Funny)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290832)

....people a lot smarter than the average SlashDot reader....

I hear they're also taller than the average midget...

Try again (1)

empaler (130732) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290572)

You are right about the speculation part, however, you misinterpret the disk type - not flash [wikipedia.org] , but flash/platter hybrid [wikipedia.org] .

Re:OK Sure (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290850)

>due to the high rate of paging MacOS does.

How well do you know the workings of OSX VM? What are you comparing it to?
Are you considering the 32-bit table scheme or the 64-bit?

drives are like hybrid cars (5, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289902)

NO, they're NOT "like hybrid cars". Stop it with the inane car analogies.

The word "hybrid" has a meaning outside automobiles. Originally it was a biological term.

Re:drives are like hybrid cars (1)

baldass_newbie (136609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289952)

The 'hybrid' term had me scratching my head, too.
I am wondering if it's meant to imply that it is somehow 'environmentally friendly'. I don't know.

Using some form of flash/caching along with memory and disk drives is not, shall we say, new so I'm wondering what it's a 'hybrid' of exactly.

Re:drives are like hybrid cars (4, Informative)

Crazy Man on Fire (153457) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290092)

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.

Re:drives are like hybrid cars (1)

Poruchik (1004331) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290256)

Which is no way like cars. Cars already boot instantaneously.

Re:drives are like hybrid cars (4, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:drives are like hybrid cars (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290550)

The only thing stranger than all of the car analogies is the impassioned resistance that they invoke.

Would you like it if car people make idiotic computer analogies all the time?

"Well, I increased the CFMs of my carburetor, which is like doubling your ram. And then I added a second fuel tank, which is like adding another hard disk."

But seriously the reason that people like me resist it so strongly is that most of them are just fucking stupid. This one is less stupid than most but it's still not a very good fit. In fact, it's not all that analogous which is why I resist the analogy. But I didn't rail against it for the reason that you state; this is probably one of the best car analogies that's been used on slashdot recently :)

Re:drives are like hybrid cars (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290688)

For people more familiar with computers than cars, those analogies might be useful, IFF they are written well.

Badly written analogies are bad.

Re:drives are like hybrid cars (4, Funny)

operagost (62405) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291130)

Ooh! Let me try...

I upgraded to Vista, which is like kicking myself in the balls.
I started playing World of Warcraft, which is like smoking crack (but less socially acceptable).

Re:drives are like hybrid cars (1)

lostatredrock (972881) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290950)

No it is still a bad analogy because your entire justification was just describes what the term hybrid means.

'anything derived from heterogeneous sources, or composed of elements of different or incongruous kinds'

That is one definition of a hybrid which is essentially what you just described the addition of a car only makes a muddled analogy as the car part of a hybrid car has no relationship to a hybrid hard drive only the hybrid part does.

Re:drives are like hybrid cars (1)

Scootesti (879866) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290372)

Yours boots automatically? I've literally had to get out and take the 'boots' to mine to get it to start :D

Re:drives are like hybrid cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18291340)

My car takes like 10 seconds to finish its flashing of lights and dinging of noises. I hardly call that instantaneous. In that time i could be doing over 70!

Re:drives are like hybrid cars (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291410)

You must live in a warm climate.

Re:drives are like hybrid cars (0, Redundant)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290288)

Just like a hybrid car, with one engine that runs on gasoline, another on electricity. And then it switches to whatever is most efficient for the particular purpose.

Or did someone already use the car analogy?

Re:drives are like hybrid cars (1)

Demoknight (66150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290106)

Finally feel like I can go "hybrid" without feeling like a smelly hippie.

Re:drives are like hybrid cars (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291172)

Excuse me... is that a cloud of smug [southparkstudios.com] over your head?

Re:drives are like hybrid cars (1)

terraformer (617565) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290228)

The word "hybrid" has a meaning outside automobiles. Originally it was a biological term.

Yes, we have a few of those posting around these parts...

Re:drives are like hybrid cars (1)

rizole (666389) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290348)

Tag this story "broken car analogy"

Re:drives are like hybrid cars (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290400)

The word "hybrid" has a meaning outside automobiles. Originally it was a biological term.
Really? I thought it was from X-Files.

Don't have a cow, man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18290958)

Actually it kind of is like a hybrid car. A hybrid car is a mix of a heavy gas engine and a lighter electric engine that allows the gas engine to run less often.

The combination of a disk drive with a flash backup does exactly the same thing.

I'm kind of surprised you didn't notice that yourself--it's pretty obvious.

Re:drives are like hybrid cars (1)

dr.badass (25287) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290984)

The word "hybrid" has a meaning outside automobiles. Originally it was a biological term.

A hybrid drive is more like a hybrid car than a genetic hybrid. The components are distinct, like a Prius or an Insight, not integrated, like a Liger or a Zeedonk. While I sympathize with disdain for car analogies, this one is actually pretty accurate.

deja vu (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289934)

I've got Deja Vu

What "resume" time? (1, Offtopic)

thinbits (904652) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289976)

Either it's a Windows thing I don't understand, or "resume" means something that is not obvious. When I open my MacBook (and any PowerBook I've ever owned), it's usable almost instantaneously (within a second or two).

Do Windows laptops not work this way (I've never used one)?

Re:What "resume" time? (1)

TheNetAvenger (624455) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290160)

Do Windows laptops not work this way (I've never used one)?

Windows or Linux is not limited in any way or inferior to OSX in this regard.

I think people are wanting instant on/off from hibernate with large amounts of RAM.

Even my old Toshiba from 2002 running XP will return from a hibernate (no power) in less than 2 secs, and will resume from standby (still powered) instantly. It has 768MB of RAM.

However my new laptop with 4GB takes almost 4 seconds to resume from a powered off hibernate state as it takes just a bit more time to read the RAM from the HD.

Hope this makes sense.

Re:What "resume" time? (4, Interesting)

GiovanniZero (1006365) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290356)

Actually, OS X is superior when it comes to sleep. Because Mac's have a set amount of hardware so they can develop for their own platform and make sure everything is fine tuned and working well.


http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=225106&cid=182 31650 [slashdot.org] ->This discussion talks about hardware differences and shows one of the reasons that Apple has superior stability.


Windows and even linux machines can have such a wide variety of hardware and all it takes is one bad driver to make sleep or suspend not work. Furthermore suspend2 for x86-64 doesn't come compiled in most distros of linux and you have to recompile the kernel to get it to work.


While your notebook may not have any problems with sleep it is probably the exception. Lots of windows boxes will sleep but when you bring them back up sound won't work or usb ports won't work. It's a pain.

Re:What "resume" time? (1)

thegameiam (671961) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290420)

All of my mac laptops (G1MBP, G4iBook) wake from sleep nearly instantly. My mac desktop (a cube) wakes well, but takes a few seconds - basically, it wakes up before spinning up the drive, and only spins the drive when it needs to.

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!

-David

Re:What "resume" time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18290478)

My pc laptop (Dell D600, Win 2k) blows chunks
*emphasis by me

Gee.. I wonder why it "blows chunks" at sleep/stanby. How well does your Mac OS 9 PC/notebook sleep?

Re:What "resume" time? (1)

FSWKU (551325) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290586)

Lots of windows boxes will sleep but when you bring them back up sound won't work or usb ports won't work. It's a pain.

No hardware issues with mine in that regard, but it does have it's own nasty quirk. Sometimes, when I bring it out of sleep mode and try to find a wireless network, the scanner will load into memory, but no interface, and it basically just sits there. GG Lenovo =\

That said, I can put the system to sleep within a second or two, and to wake it up takes 5 at most. Hibernate, on the other hand, takes a good 20 seconds either way...

Re:What "resume" time? (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291416)

While your notebook may not have any problems with sleep it is probably the exception. Lots of windows boxes will sleep but when you bring them back up sound won't work or usb ports won't work. It's a pain.

Usually true for desktop PCs, but most laptops appear to sleep / hibernate just fine. I have an IBM laptop which I hibernate every night. It literally goes months between reboots.

My experience of XP and Vista hibernate on the desktop is not so good. Under XP desktop machine hibernate used to throw an error. Under Vista it does appear to work, but sometimes the Sleep function hibernates and then wakes up instantly which is extremely annoying when I discover my machine still turned on after I told it to turn off.

Re:What "resume" time? (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290736)

"Windows or Linux is not limited in any way or inferior to OSX in this regard."

You're joking, right?

Every Windows laptop I've ever worked on regularly fails to wake up when you open it. There is no clear indication of what state it's in, and pressing the power button for varying amounts of time sometimes wakes the machine up, and sometimes powers the machine off.

So, yeah, that's inferior.

Re:What "resume" time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18290896)

Perhaps you shouldn't download midget porn full of spyware and viruses. I've NEVER had a windows laptop that failed to resume from standby.

Re:What "resume" time? (1)

supertbone (624441) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290326)

I noticed that when I upgraded from XP to Vista, my laptop resumes almost instantaneously, whereas previously it would take a lot longer.

Re:What "resume" time? (1)

empaler (130732) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290730)

Resume from Hibernate, probably, is what they're thinking of (where the RAM contents are hosed onto the HDD and the power completely cut off)

fucking analogy (2, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18289982)

like a hybrid car? It's nothing like a hybrid car. And I would think the average slashdot reader is technically inclined enough to understand what it really is, without the retarded analogy.

Re:fucking analogy (1)

Zaatxe (939368) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290546)

And I would think the average slashdot reader is technically inclined enough to understand what it really is, without the retarded analogy.

You must be new here...

Add more ram and make smarter bootup sequences (3, Interesting)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290022)

Adding more ram for a disk cache is a simpler (and often lower power) solution to speed up disk activity. Writing to flash takes power, leaving the flash on [so you can access it] takes power. But you can't use flash as random access memory.

Putting the laptop in suspend mode throughout the day (instead of hibernate or off) can also lighten the load on the disk/battery. Bonus points would be for flushing the read cache, compressing the in use memory and turning off as many memory banks as possible during suspend. (I know that's not trivial hence the bonus points).

Tom

Re:Add more ram and make smarter bootup sequences (5, Informative)

Maddog Batty (112434) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290188)

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.

Re:Add more ram and make smarter bootup sequences (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290308)

Perhaps people would benefit from just not putting applications on a HD? Use the flash as a /usr/bin mount point. Use the HD for /home and /tmp.

I just don't see the whole "it's a cache" thing working too well.

Tom

Re:Add more ram and make smarter bootup sequences (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291216)

Being that most flash drives are under 4 GB, people would probably be hitting the wall constantly just like in the bad old days of small DOS partitions.

Re:Add more ram and make smarter bootup sequences (1)

sholden (12227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290340)

You can read boot files from the flash before the hard drive has finished spinning up - more memory cache doesn't help there.

You can leave the drive spun down with writes going to flash until you run out of flash or need to read something not in the flash. You can't do that with memory cache since you'll lose data if power is lost (battery goes flat, whatever)

Re:Add more ram and make smarter bootup sequences (1)

dr.badass (25287) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291356)

Writing to flash takes power, leaving the flash on [so you can access it] takes power.

Flash only consumes about as much as RAM (i.e. less than a watt in large quantities).

But you can't use flash as random access memory.

This is irrelevant when the point is to use it as non-volatile cache for disk writes.

hybrid (5, Funny)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290040)

The new drives are like hybrid cars

So they get 50mpg?

Re:hybrid (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290318)

"So they get 50mpg?"

Or they don't provide anywhere near the improvement the specs claim.

Re:hybrid (1)

Vanye1 (448817) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290750)

Its only 36 after the revised standards...

Question (5, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290122)

Does the flash inside these things die after however-many thousands of writes?

It sounds to me like the life expentancy of one of these would be greatly diminished over a conventional HDD.

Has flash technology advanced to the point that the limited write cycle thing isn't an issue, or do they just expect you to replace it every few months to a year (depending on how much you use it)?

Re:Question (1)

blackmonday (607916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290540)

I got the impression that the information on the flash won't be written to often. It will be used at boot time, therefore won't change much, unless you change the startup sequence.

Re:Question (2, Interesting)

LOTHAR, of the Hill (14645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291042)

No, flash tech hasn't changed much in a long time. It's just gotten faster, larger, and cheaper. NOR flash is much more reliable than NAND, but it's much slower. That is why computers use NOR for boot flash.

The iPOD Nano uses a NOR boot flash, but NAND for data.

Hybrid drives are a great idea if done correctly, a nightmare otherwise. Personally, I'm a bit leery of the concept. I wouldn't want to be an early adopter on this one.

Re:Question (2, Informative)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291414)

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
cheap

-nB

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18291310)

Does the flash inside these things die after however-many thousands of writes? It sounds to me like the life expentancy of one of these would be greatly diminished over a conventional HDD.

Apple are well known for the reliability, longevity and serviceability of their devices so I'm sure this won't be a problem.

Re:Question (2, Interesting)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291390)

It isn't a problem. For Linux. With minor modifications.

If you put /tmp, /var, and swap on a different disk or RAM disk, then you mount it with the "noatime" attribute (to stop disk writes on every file read), you can have a Linux machine boot from flash just fine. I imagine Apple can make similar modifications to their OS.

I've been running several servers off of flash drives for about six months, and they are all working beautifully.

Windows, on the other hand, would blow a flash drive quickly due to all the registry bullshit, and due to its inflexible design.

Solid-state computers are going to be Unix-based for at least the next 10 years. Microsoft is always late to the game where new technology is concerned.

Re:Question (4, Interesting)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291518)

Does the flash inside these things die after however-many thousands of writes?

It sounds to me like the life expentancy of one of these would be greatly diminished over a conventional HDD.


Yes, they do eventually die. No, they won't die dramatically younger than a hard drive. Modern flash uses wear-levelling algorithms, so that no particular bad block will kill the whole flash drive. It'll just make a small block inaccessible when it finally dies, which won't happen very often. OTOH, when a head decides to dig into your constantly spinning mechanical platter and make a noise that makes you feel sick... Well, there just isn't any algorithm fix for that.

Miniature version of MacOS X? (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290172)

The article speculates that there would be a miniature version of Mac OS X in these units. I'm not sure what the reasoning for that is.

If these disks make a MacBook use less battery power, great. But I don't see why the world needs a miniature version of MacOS X.

Re:Miniature version of MacOS X? (3, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290466)

If these disks make a MacBook use less battery power, great. But I don't see why the world needs a miniature version of MacOS X.

Back in the day, Apple used to ship Macs with a copy of pre-OS X, Mac OS on a ROM. It was basically unused, but it did have the advantage that if your hard drive went down or an extension to the OS was making your system unbootable, you could always boot from the ROM and at least do a hardware check to see if your problem was hardware or software related. Apple could re-introduce this feature using Flash memory, although I'm not convinced it is really worth their time.

Re:Miniature version of MacOS X? (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290602)

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.

Re:Miniature version of MacOS X? (1)

Jerry Smith (806480) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290978)

http://lowendmac.com/compact/classic.shtml [lowendmac.com] , there you are. The fact that you never saw one, doesn't mean they didn't exist :c)

Re:Miniature version of MacOS X? (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291066)

Which macs are these? I've never seen one.

You probably did, but never knew about it. I'm not sure which models had such a feature. I know the mac classics my friend used for a distributed computation, tic-tac-toe project did and that the very early PPC machines, like my old 66Mhz slab did as well. I know the old g3 tower a co-worker bought at a garage sale did not have the feature. I imagine you should look at early PPC machines and the early gen processor machines.

Macintoshes include functions in ROM, but it's not a complete OS.

It was a full, bootable OS, but not good for much aside from testing the hardware.

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...

If I recall correctly it never failed to the ROM, but you have to know about it and boot with a specific key combination in order to use it. Most people never knew it was there.

Re:Miniature version of MacOS X? (1)

thinbits (904652) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291422)

Cmd-Option-X-O I think was the key combination. I think XO was the internal code name for that project at Apple.

It was good if your filesystem was hosed and you needed something clean to boot from and run a repair utility (presumably you would put the repair utility on a floppy and pop it in).

Read Cache is not the point! (4, Interesting)

samael (12612) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290182)

The point is that it can turn off the hard drive while you're working away, until the flash cache is full, and then turn it on long enough to dump the contents. This should save a lot of battery power.

Re:Read Cache is not the point! (1)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290556)

I was under the impression that most of the energy costs of magnetic disk storage related to spinning the discs from a halt, not maintaining the rotation after the platters have reached the proper speed.

Re:Read Cache is not the point! (2, Informative)

roseblood (631824) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Sub-notebook (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290208)

Related story from last month: Apple May Be Re-entering the Sub-Notebook Market [slashdot.org] .

Makes good sense, sub-notebooks have a premium on low power consumption / long battery life (more so than ordinary laptops).

I don't think that this IS the time... (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290240)

FTFA:

Wu, who was among the first analysts to forecast the unveiling of Apple's iPhone music player/phone earlier this year, cited unnamed industry sources as the basis for his report.

"The time is right for the flash makers to make a move" as flash memory prices decline, Wu said by telephone. "Apple, from what we understand, is pretty much ready. The ball is in the flash vendors' court."

What do you mean Apple is pretty much ready? To replace a rotating disk with a SSD? I have news for you, that doesn't take much.

But seriously, I think that this is precisely the WRONG time to do this. Intel's PRAM is on its way. MRAM has finally seen some commercial use (in smaller quantities) and may be more available soon. Flash RAM is crap by comparison to either technology except for its availability and the wait for one or the other to actually become available should not be very long.

Such a device will be markedly expensive, so adopters will be few. It's an expensive way to get practice working in a particular market segment.

Apple Copying LG - Again (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18290292)

First Apple rips off LG's phone design, and now this.

Real purpose (2, Funny)

reydelamirienda (892327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290302)

So now the OS will go in a big flash drive as if it was some kind of firmware (you don't change the os very often, so flash life is not a problem) and leave the spinning disk to what really matters: pr0n!

Petrol fueled drives! cool! like Pear Trees! (0, Offtopic)

fantomas (94850) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290354)

"The new drives are like hybrid cars"

w00t! Petrol fueled hard drives! but ecologically sound!

oh. you didn't mean that. You just meant that you wanted people who didn't know what "hybrid" meant to have point of reference.

Actually you meant "They are a bit like Pear Trees" [morsenursery.com] . As in, a hybrid...

hmmm...

A bit misleading (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:A bit misleading (1)

stokessd (89903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290748)

"The drives in question have only 256MB Flash or so"

If that size is correct, it's a whole lot less interesting than I was imagining. You can't push your RAM image into that for sleep, you can't keep much of the OS in there. IT would be useful for saving files you are working on. Imagine, the program lives in main memory and you keep saving your files to flash and leave the platters spun down until needed (needed may be quite often with only 256Meg).

So the Hybrid Car analogy is closer to correct than you guys thought: "An overly complex system that doesn't really solve the problem, but may postpone the need for the real solution."

Sheldon

Is it just me... (2, Interesting)

keytohwy (975131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290670)

They keep talking about quick boot times. Is this an issue for anyone? I boot my Mac about twice a month anyway, so boot times are a non-issue. And wake from sleep times in OSX have been consistently quick for years. I understand the other benefits, but these points seem moot.

I've been wondering... (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290812)

If I could replace my OS drive with one of these really large flash drives to cut down on heat/noise, but I know there's a limited # of writes you can do with these drives...

Rumors, Analysts, and Apple (3, Interesting)

maggard (5579) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290878)

First, rumor has it is all this is. An analyst put it in a report and everyone is passing it on a valid. Especially with Apple folks should know that rumors & speculation are just that.

Next it was widely reported a few years ago when Apple made a huuuge futures purchase on flash memory getting an excellent price and assuring their supply. Someone more motivated then I can crunch the numbers but even with however many million iPods sold I'm guessing Apple still has flash memory to play with and a decent price.

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.

With all of that in mind do I expect Apple will come out with some sort of clever new device that is small, robust, and runs for longer then others on the market? I wouldn't be surprised. Apple has innovated time & time again, particularly on laptops, and part of their market is remarkably price-insensitive (I've rarely heard "Get me the best Dell, whatever the price!", I've heard that regularly about Macs.) What starts at the top often soon moves down.

Finally, Apple still does largely design their own motherboards, owns their own OS, can implement a new technology without needing to coordinate it among many parties. But do I think J. Random Analyst is going to be all that insightful about Apple's hardware future? Not particularly, he's just an excuse to post another story about everyone's favorite conundrum.

Re:Rumors, Analysts, and Apple (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291126)

got a macbook recently (core duo, just before core 2 was announced).. have the ram fully maxed on it, and can run video feeds or even games on the machine nonstop for 4.5 hours on the battery (considerably longer if i dont tax it like that).

im just saying.. the macbook line delivers decent battery performance for the kind of power it packs (despite the fact that i despise how terrible their glossy view angles are)

This is a good idea for laptops. (2, Interesting)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18290998)

the battery power issue has been mentioned, but also keep in mind laptop hard drives tend to either be A. - lower RPM than desktop drives or B. - switched off for power conservation.

this means much higher response lag whenever laptops have to page in/out (and the reason i opted to upgrade the ram on the laptop to as much as the desktop).

apply this to the entire apple line and you suddenly have a considerable performance edge over competitors (using the same software configurations).

apply it to desktops as well for extra power conservation and performance per watt as well (and with desktops you have a larger case to include more flash into the drive).

C0m (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18291072)

There is already a flash laptop (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 7 years ago | (#18291346)

OLPC. I would buy a consumer version of one of those in an instant.
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