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Monday, April 18, 2011, 10:35 am PT (01:35 pm ET)

Faster Samsung flash memory SSD drives appear in Apple's new MacBook Airs

Apple has quietly upgraded some recent MacBook Air orders with Samsung solid-state flash memory drives, offering even faster read and write times.

Some MacBook Air units were discovered by AnandTech to include the SM128C SSD, presumed to be manufactured by Samsung. When the newly redesigned MacBook Air first went on sale last October, units included the Toshiba TS128C flash drive.

The difference between the two drives is noteworthy: Testing shows the Samsung SSD has a read time of 261.1MB per second, compared with 209.8MB/s for the Toshiba drive. Similarly, the Samsung has a superior write time of 209.6MB/s, compared to 175.6MB/s write times with the Toshiba drive.

"There is no absolute confirmation that Samsung manufactures the SM128C, but all indicators point that way," author Kristian Vatto wrote. "Regardless of manufacturer, the SM128C appears noticeably faster in sequential read/write performance. What we can't confirm is how the two models differ in more intense testing, specifically with regards to random read/write performance, TRIM support, etc."

Rather than relying on traditional 2.5-inch or 1.8-inch SSDs, the new MacBook Air drives utilize a new form factor known as mSATA. After the thinner and lighter MacBook Air was unveiled last year, Toshiba announced its Blade X-gale SSD series, the same hardware found in Apple's thin-and-light notebook.

MacBook Air


Though Samsung and Apple compete in making notebooks, phones and tablets, Apple is also Samsung's largest customer, with a reported $7.8 billion in purchases planned for 2011. Samsung provides the custom-built processors Apple uses in its mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad, and also provides liquid crystal displays.

Another major component Samsung is responsible for is flash memory, with that partnership forged through a landmark deal in 2005. Flash memory has since become a crucial part of Apple's product line, ranging from the iPhone to the iPad to the new MacBook Air.