Apple adds 256, 512 GB Flash drive options as build-to-order options for iMac

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Date: Thursday, May 2nd, 2013, 07:40
Category: hard drive, Hardware, iMac, News

It’s pricey, but it’s a useful option.

Per MacRumors, Apple has added new storage options to its iMac lineup, allowing users to choose either a 256 GB or 512 GB flash storage drive as part of the order customization process. The new options are available as US$300 and US$600 surcharges respectively to replace the 1 TB traditional hard drive that is standard across all iMac models.

Previously, the 21.5-inch iMac had not been available with dedicated flash storage options, only offering the standard 1 TB traditional hard drive and a US$250 Fusion Drive option. Apple’s Fusion Drive marries a 128 GB flash drive with a 1 TB traditional hard drive to seamlessly provide fast access to most-used files while also offering relatively cheap mass storage for the remainder of the user’s storage needs. Those options remain available, but for those looking for an all-flash storage solution, Apple is now offering that in 256 and 512 GB capacities.

For the 27-inch iMac, Apple did previously offer an all-flash storage solution, but only as a 768 GB drive carrying a US$900 upgrade fee. The 27-inch iMac is also available with 1 TB and 3 TB traditional hard drive options, with each of those also available in a Fusion Drive configuration. But with the addition of 256 GB and 512 GB flash options, Apple is now offering users who do not need massive amounts of storage the ability to maximize speed on their machines.

If you have a Mac with a Fusion drive and want to throw in your two cents as to how its performance has been, please let us know in the comments.

How-to: Upgrade your hard drive’s firmware via ISO images

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Date: Friday, December 7th, 2012, 08:49
Category: hard drive, News, Software

This might be useful.

A recent post on the Apple Core shows how you can manually install firmware updates for your hard drives via burning ISO images to CD or DVD, then working from there. It’s not exactly for the faint of heart, but David Morgenstern is there to guide you as needed.

Head on over, take a gander and if you have any stories as to upgrading your hard drive’s firmware, please let us know in the comments.

Initial tests show faster boot, read and write times under Apple’s Fusion Drive

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Date: Friday, November 9th, 2012, 08:59
Category: hard drive, Hardware, iMac, Mac mini, News

There may be ample reason to go with a Fusion Drive inside your Mac.

Per Techfast Lunch&Dinner, a series of tests run by the site found the Fusion Drive Mac mini started in just 15.7 seconds, while the 2012 Mac mini with a traditional hard drive took 34.1 seconds to start.

Major improvements were also found in a disk speed test, which revealed the Fusion Drive can achieve read speeds of more than 300 megabytes per second, and write speeds exceeding 400 megabytes per second. In comparison, the Mac mini with 5400-rpm drive couldn’t exceed 100 megabytes per second on either the read or write test.

Fusion Drive was unveiled by Apple last month and is an upgrade option in the company’s latest Mac minis and iMacs. Apple has said the feature offers nearly the same performance as a solid-state drive, but also allows considerably more storage at a lower price point.

Apple’s Fusion Drives feature 128 gigabytes of flash storage paired with either a 1-terabyte or 3-terabyte 5400-rpm hard drive. Apple’s OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion operating system calculates which files and applications are used the most and automatically places them on the faster solid-state drive, while less frequently accessed software remains stored on the spinning drive.

Core applications and the operating system are permanently stored and accessed from the flash memory, while the leftover space is used for those frequently accessed files, folders or programs. File transfers between the drives take place in the background dynamically, so the system is seamless and unobtrusive to the user.

Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller last month compared the Fusion Drive to a baseline 1TB 7200 RPM HDD. He said the Fusion drive performs an Aperture photo import 3.5 times faster, a file copy of a 4GB folder 3.5 times faster, and system boot 1.7 times faster.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on a new Mac with a Fusion Drive and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know in the comments.

OWC Aura Pro fits into 13-inch MacBook Pro via included drive caddy

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Date: Thursday, October 25th, 2012, 20:16
Category: hard drive, Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

This could be nifty.

According to an entry on the OWC blog, the OWC Aura Pro solid state drive fits just fine in Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro’s drive caddy (something new that wasn’t in the 15″ model), and so far everything seems to be running quite solidly.

Albeit there’s still a battery of tests to conduct, the drive seems to work well in the new notebook with no side effects.

Not a bad thing for an SSD unit that’s about US$200 cheaper than Apple’s drive, as mentioned by the mighty Jason over on the Apple Core

If you’ve tried the OWC Aura Pro in your brand new 13-inch MacBook Pro and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple announces Fusion Drive, blends SSD and HDD technologies

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 18:11
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

This could be interesting.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple surprised its audience by announcing the Fusion Drive, a combination of SSD and HDD technologies. Fusion Drive is part of the new, just-announced iMacs, and is supported by OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion). In concept, it’s similar to auto-tiering that is used in enterprise environments.



In practice, Apple is offering a 128 GB SDD with a 1 TB or 3 TB HDD drive that are combined with smart software. The OS will monitor which apps you use the most and runs them from the SDD. Apple claims that, when the system is idle, it uses 50 percent less power than a standard hard drive.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple extends warranty for 2009 iMac, cites known hard drive issue

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Date: Monday, October 15th, 2012, 06:39
Category: hard drive, Hardware, iMac, News

There’s nothing like a quiet warranty extension to put your mind at ease.

Per MacRumors, Apple on Friday quietly extended its iMac 1TB Seagate Hard Drive Replacement Program coverage back two years to include models sold from October 2009, effectively adding almost two years to the initiative which previously included machines sold between May and June of 2011.

News of the extension was posted to Apple’s Support webpage sometime on Friday, which noted email notifications were being sent to affected iMac owners who took the time to register their products. Users can also check the program’s webpage to confirm eligibility.

From the announcement:

Apple has determined that certain Seagate 1TB hard drives used in 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMac systems may fail. These systems were sold between October 2009 and July 2011.

iMac owners who were affected by the Seagate-specific failure can have their hard drives replaced for free from Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider, or those who have already paid for repair or replacement can contact Apple for a possible refund.

First initiated in July 2011, the recall originally ran through July 23, 2012 and covered iMacs sold between May 2011 and July 2011. The program was subsequently extended for an additional year. With Friday’s announcement, the replacement plan has been broadened again, and now covers affected iMacs for three years after the first retail sale of the unit or until April 12, 2013, whichever provides longer coverage.

Seagate’s storage components were at the center of another fiasco in 2007, when Apple acknowledged that a number of MacBook and MacBook Pros shipped with faulty hard drives. An apparent manufacturing flaw caused the drive head of some units to permanently fail, scratching the disk patter and causing permanent data loss.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Crucial unveils solid-state drives for older Mac notebooks

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Date: Tuesday, July 31st, 2012, 14:34
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

You should add more solid-state drives to more things, as they are awesome.

Per Macworld, accessory provider Crucial today announced a new solid-state drive (SSD) targeted at users who want to upgrade older computer systems with a flash drive that boasts a price well under US$1 per gigabyte of capacity.

Crucial’s new v4 SSD, which is being manufactured by partner Micron, may not sport top flash-drive speeds. But it outpaces any consumer hard drive by more than twice the performance. The new 128GB SSD sells for US$100; a 256GB model can be had for US$190.

The price of consumer-class SSDs had been expected to drop to US$1 per gigabyte this year. SSD prices further slipped precipitously because of market oversupply. For example, NAND flash memory maker Toshiba recently slashed its production by 30 percent in order to deal with oversupply issues.

Crucial’s new v4 SSD uses the more widely used but older SATA-2, which has the 3 Gbps interface that most pre-2011 computer systems sport for internal drive connectivity. SATA-3 offers 6 Gbps, but only the latest systems (such as the new MacBook Pro) come with it.

Crucial said its v4 SSD has sequential read/write speeds of 230 MBps and 190 MBps, respectively. To put that in perspective, a top-of-the-line hard disk drive, such as Western Digital’s 7200-rpm Scorpio Black, has maximum read/write speeds of around 104 MBps and 101 MBps.

By comparison, an Intel top-of-the-line 520 Series SSD boasts peak read/write speeds of 550 MBps and 520 MBps, respectively. So the new Crucial SSD rests nicely in the middle.

The v4 SSDs are available in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB capacities with suggested retail prices of US$50, US$70, US$100, and US$190, respectively. The SSDs can be purchased now through global channel partners, or direct through Crucial’s website.

The Crucial v4 SSD comes with a three-year limited warranty, and is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X systems.

Hitachi announces 500GB, 7mm, 7,200 RPM Z7K500 notebook hard drive

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Date: Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012, 07:22
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

On Wednesday, Hitachi announced the release of its 500GB Travelstar Z7K500. Per Electronista, the drive is the first to hit a half-terabyte at the slimmer 7mm height while keeping a full 7,200RPM spin speed and just one drive platter. Along with being the first to have both a 6Gbps SATA3 connection and a 32MB buffer, it’s billed as being not just faster than other 7mm drives but faster than many regular 9mm drives as well.

The disk is intended both for thin regular notebooks as well as for ultrabooks. Although not fast enough by itself to match a solid-state drive, including an SSD as a cache theoretically offers a best-of-both-worlds design where the responsiveness of an SSD and the lower prices of a rotating hard drive are combined. It consumes more power, but at 1.8W peak and 0.8W idle is relatively efficient.

Hitachi has had test versions of its newer Z7K500 drives since January and is already expecting mass production for March, with 250GB and 320GB editions already available. It hasn’t named the customers that will be using it, although it conspicuously mentioned that “all major PC OEMs” had already qualified the pre-500GB drives and implied that Apple, Dell, HP, and others were either using or planning to use the new Travelstars.

Final pricing details for the Z7K500 drives also have yet to be announced.

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available.

OWC releases 480GB Aura Pro Express SSD for MacBook Air

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Date: Friday, January 27th, 2012, 13:51
Category: hard drive, MacBook Air, News

The good news: You can now snag up to a 480GB solid-state drive for your MacBook Air.

The bad part: It ain’t cheap.

Per Electronista, Other World Computing has released a 480GB version of its Mercury Aura Pro Express. The new solid-state drive doubles the storage of its SATA3-based, 6Gbps model line. As with other SSDs, more capacity doesn’t mean a sacrifice in speed, and it can deliver as much as 500MB per second in peak transfer speeds.

Apple’s stock SSDs in current-generation Airs usually stop at around half the maximum speed. OWC gets to the faster speed by using a modern SandForce memory controller. Although it doesn’t officially support the TRIM command to optimize the drive, it’s touted as having its own data block management techniques to keep the SSD fast throughout its lifespan.

The drive works with either size of MacBook Air and has a cost roughly in line with other 480GB SSDs at about US$1,079. Users have to install the drive themselves, but they’re given instructions and a three-year warranty in case the drive itself is faulty. OWC has begun shipping the new drives, which are immediately available.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Western Digital debuts My Book Thunderbolt Duo drive at Macworld/iWorld Expo

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Date: Thursday, January 26th, 2012, 08:50
Category: Accessory, hard drive, News

Ok, the Thunderbolt peripherals have sort of trickled out the gate as opposed to a mighty torrent.

This may be changing as hard drive and accessory maker Western Digital introduced its first Thunderbolt-equipped drive at Macworld|iWorld on Thursday. Per Electronista, the My Book Thunderbolt Duo uses the fast 10Gbps port to feed two 3.5-inch hard drives at speeds that would be impractical for FireWire 800. On a 6TB Thunderbolt Duo, peak transfer speeds can hit over 250MBps (2Gbps), making the only bottleneck the drives themselves.

The speeds are potentially vital for video and 3D editors, even on the MacBook Air. WD estimates that a full HD movie can shuttle to or from the drive in 30 seconds. At such speeds, it’s comparable to a mid-tier solid-state drive like the MacBook Air’s own and can create a seamless effect where working from the external drive is as quick as built-in flash storage.

Both 4TB and 6TB capacities will be available, each using a RAID 0 stripe to get the extra speed and continuous space. Although it technically wouldn’t require a Mac, Windows-based PCs using true Thunderbolt connectors were only just announced at CES and leave Apple’s systems as the only immediate options. Final pricing and shipping dates have yet to be announced, so stay tuned and we’ll offer more details as soon as they become available.