Flash-based PowerBooks?

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005, 16:01
Category: PowerBook

Barring the obvious pricing issues, wouldn’t it be cool if Apple did away with hard drives in the upcoming Intel PowerBook in favor of flash memory? It would allow them to further minimize the footprint (possibly fulfilling my dream of a PowerBook nano) and even offer the first instant-on machines.
The Motley Fool has a story on Apple’s aggressive sourcing of flash memory and the potential for a new instant-on or near instant-on machine. The article also discusses Intel’s “Robson” technology that integrates NAND flash into computers. Although flash memory chips aren’t likely to replace the HDD any time soon, adding it promises to provide longer battery life.
The other barrier to replacing hard drives with flash is price. Flash memory is much more expensive that hard drive mechanisms, but then again Apple recently prepaid $1.25B to secure flash chips through 2010, which probably got them a substantial discount. Maybe they have all that flash memory allocated to something other than iPods?


Barring the obvious pricing issues, wouldn’t it be cool if Apple did away with hard drives in the upcoming Intel PowerBook in favor of flash memory? It would allow them to further minimize the footprint (possibly fulfilling my dream of a PowerBook nano) and even offer the first instant-on machines.
The Motley Fool has a story on Apple’s aggressive sourcing of flash memory and the potential for a new instant-on or near instant-on machine. The article also discusses Intel’s “Robson” technology that integrates NAND flash into computers. Although flash memory chips aren’t likely to replace the HDD any time soon, adding it promises to provide longer battery life.
The other barrier to replacing hard drives with flash is price. Flash memory is much more expensive that hard drive mechanisms, but then again Apple recently prepaid $1.25B to secure flash chips through 2010, which probably got them a substantial discount. Maybe they have all that flash memory allocated to something other than iPods?

Recent Posts

3 Responses to “Flash-based PowerBooks?”

  1. What mobile road worrior would not want an instant-on harddisk-less laptop! Just a minor correction. It would not be the first. The UK-based company Psion launched the Psion 7. A sub-notebook which did exactly that. It used RAM as main memory and had two slots for Compact Flash. It served as my mobile platform for a couple of years and is the best mobile computer I have ever had as it booted instantly, could last 8 hours continously on one charge, but I only needed to charge once a week as you just could turn off power between writing and thinking 😉
    http://www.geocities.com/epoc_32/
    http://www.ericlindsay.com/epoc/psion7.htm
    If Apple came with a similar based on NAND, I would buy one!. CS

  2. 40-60-100 gigs of Flash memory would be astronomical in price. I would suggest an intermediate step. Put 3-4 gigs of flash on the powerbook and load the OS on it. Let the Powerbook startup off the Flash ram, making it fire up MUCH faster. Keep a backup of the flash on the HD just in case.

  3. Hey Jason, I posted a similar idea earlier, suggesting a Flash only portable, also called the iBook or PowerBook Nano. I believe this a high possibility in view of the instant on potential and ability for it to double as a shock resistant media player. However, chances are, Apple will create a hybrid, where Flash is used as a massive cache / buffer, and perhaps a 100% solid state machine will arrive later as the price performance ratio of Flash improves.