According to reports from the notorious Mac Rumous web site, the Apple Sub Note originally slated for launch at the WWDC 2007 has been delayed. Rumoured to be based on NAND flash memory as opposed to conventional hard drive technology, the Apple Sub Note is touted to be be ‘ultra portable’ with lower power consumption features. Unfortunately, for those of us who have been holding out until now, the ultra portable Mac is rumoured to be delayed until late 2007-early 2008.
NAND flash memory is non-volatile computer memory that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed which is today, commonly used in memory cards and USB flash drives, e.g. the iPod Shuffle and Nano.
Going into the next phase of evolution, portable computer makers are beginning to silently introduce NAND flash-based, Solid State Drives (SSD), departing from the current conventional platter-based hard drives. Being NAND flash-based, the new SSD promises a future with faster boot times, higher access speeds and lower read/write latency and most importantly lower power consumption and longer reliable lifespan. All of which, accrue from the apparent lack of mechanical parts. The SSD currently come in similar form factors as its existing platter-based brethren, a neat 2.5″ enclosure featuring similar interface as current conventional hard drives.
At the moment, the biggest downside to SSD is the higher price per GB and lack of larger capacity versions. Whilst some of these limiting factors will change over time with lowered costs of productions when uptake increases and future R & D that will propel SSD capacities further, some limiting factors however are here to stay. Unlike its platter-based brethren, a SSD failure will result in dramatically lowered chances of data recovery, vulnerability against certain types of effects, including abrupt power loss (especially DRAM based SSDs), magnetic fields and electric/static charges and also slower accesss speed on sequential I/O compared to platter-based hard drives.
Although, its expected that the Cupertino computer maker will awe us with yet another breath-taking reveal with their latest ultra portable Mac, we can get a taste of things to come by looking at SSD-based ultra portables already in the market. Notably, the Sony Vaio VGN-X505XP and the Samsung Q30.
Only time will tell whether wafer-thin portables are here to stay. With concerns lying mainly in the feasibility of SSD and their vulnerabilities and dramatically lowered chances of lost data recovery when a SSD failure strikes.