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Thursday, December 21, 2006, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Apple passes on Samsung's hybrid flash technology for Macs

Apple Computer has reportedly turned down an offer to incorporate new flash-enhanced hybrid hard drives from Samsung into its Mac computer line, likely proceeding with plans to use technology from Intel Corp. instead.

Like several other PC manufacturers, the Cupertino, Calif.-based Mac maker has been working on a next-generation notebook design that will incorporate NAND flash memory to enhance the speed of some operations while simultaneously delivering longer battery life.

Apple, as AppleInsider reported this past September, is said to be working closely with Intel on the matter, leveraging a feature of the chipmaker's upcoming Santa Rosa notebook platform dubbed Robson.

However, a report over at APC claims that somewhere along the way Apple was approached by Samsung, which pitched its own proprietary solution called flash-enhanced hybrid hard drive. The technology, due to turn up during the first quarter of next year, essentially takes the approach as Robson but integrates the flash memory into the hard disk assembly rather than on the logic-board.

"We did propose the HDD (hybrid disk drive) concept to Apple" said Chuck Kang, an engineer from Samsung's the Flash Memory Planning Group, "but Apple's opinion is that they're not going to use HDD for their systems... they won't support it".

The report, rather speculatively, implies that Apple will instead introduce systems with Intel's Robson technology "one year from the introduction" of its first Intel-based notebook, the MacBook Pro Core Duo.

"Intel will sell Robson to OEMs as a mini-card module or a kit of components which can be mounted directly onto the motherboard," according to the report. "Santa Rosa's Crestline chipset will act as traffic cop, coordinating Robson's flow of bits over the PCI Express bus."

Robson is expected to be available in modules starting at 256MB for around $20 and ranging up to 512MB, 1GB and 2GB.

At Intel's fall developer forum, chief executive Paul Otellini spoke at length about the technology and offered some early benchmarks for Robson-enabled notebooks. He said users could expect faster boot times, 2X faster application load times, and a 2X reduction in the time need wake a system from sleep.