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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Tech News > Teardown reveals 2x faster PCIe-based flash storage in new 13-inch MBA

Teardown reveals 2x faster PCIe-based flash storage in new 13-inch MBA
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NewsPoster
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Mar 11, 2015, 07:40 PM
 
A teardown of the brand-new 2015 13-inch MacBook Air by iFixit has revealed a surprising difference between the 11-inch and 13-inch models -- the latter has also inherited the double-speed new PCIe flash storage system that is included in the new MacBook, which Apple says is up to two times faster than even the recent generation of PCIe flash storage seen in recent MacBook Air models, and in the refreshed 11-inch model. Preliminary testing has confirmed the claim.

For comparison purposes, the SATA-connected flash storage seen in the original and early revisions of the MacBook Air averaged around 100MB/sec read speeds, with slightly lower write speeds. The PCIe-based flash in the 11-inch MBA and the 2014 models are more than six times faster, with read speeds around 650MB/sec and write speeds of around 315MB/sec. The 2x PCIe flash storage found in the new 13-inch MacBook Air, however, were tested at 1285MB/sec read speed, and 630MB/sec writes -- comfortably meeting Apple's claim of a 100 percent increase in performance.

Removable flash storage in new 13-inch Air
Removable flash storage in new 13-inch Air


In addition, the MacBook Air line saw an upgrade to more power-efficient Broadwell Intel processors, as well as a bump up to Intel 6000 HD graphics -- a step above the Intel 5300 HD graphics used in the new MacBook. The unit also offers more connection ports and a higher-resolution FaceTime camera, while costing up to $300 less ... but also weighs 50 percent more than the new, slimmer, and Retina display-sporting MacBook.

The teardown also showed that the flash storage and controller are sourced from Samsung in the 13-inch model, while the 11-inch MBA using the slower previous-gen storage has a SanDisk storage unit with a Marvell controller. The Intel HD 6000 graphics are about 20-25 percent faster than the previous Intel 5000 HD graphics chipset. The processor offers no significant speed increase, but better management and power efficiency, resulting in cooler operation and longer battery life (a full extra hour, for a total of 12 hours of normal operation, according to Apple).

Importantly, the teardown showed that the storage in the 13-inch, like the 11-inch, is still removable and thus will ultimately be upgradeable, though a P5 pentalobe screwdriver is needed to access the logic board of the MBA. Likewise, the battery on the new MacBook Air is also removable, though its extremely unlikely that it will need replacing in the normal lifespan of the machine.



The company, which makes its money by selling repair services and tools, graded both new models of the MacBook Air as a "4" on a scale of 10 for repairability (with 10 being the easiest to repair. While it noted that once the back cover was off most of the components were easily removable, it deducted points for the need to use a pentalobe screwdriver to open the case, and the fact that all the major components -- such as the RAM, the batter, and the SSD -- are all proprietary and not, at present, upgradable. The RAM is soldered onto the motherboard (as with the previous version) and not upgradeable at all.
( Last edited by NewsPoster; Mar 11, 2015 at 07:56 PM. )
     
DiabloConQueso
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Mar 11, 2015, 09:02 PM
 
1285MB/sec -- holy crap!

The speed of the SSD should help offset to some degree, and in certain cases, the lower clock speed of the mobile Intel processor.
     
And.reg
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Mar 11, 2015, 09:04 PM
 
I was thinking the same thing. Looks like if I upgrade to a newer laptop it'll be another Macbook Air. It still has all the ports that I need (though I wish it had HDMI and a retina display), and it has double the battery life of my current laptop and double the hard drive speed (actually more than double what I have, the 2012 model).

Question: Would upgrading to the i7 config. affect the 12-hour battery life in general, or only if what I'm doing on a given day is, say, music playback and web browsing?
     
Charles Martin
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Mar 12, 2015, 01:00 AM
 
And.reg: I don't think the upgrade would have a noticeable impact, since it doesn't sound like you'd be taxing it much at all.

Diablo: I really don't think the processor will matter much to most of the target market for the MacBook (the 13-inch Air will likely retain the same performance it had before). The low-end speed is basically for "idling," and it ramps up as required. Plus, storage performance is so ridiculously quick the entire machine will feel instant. As we said earlier today, the MacBook is just not aimed at power users -- but my wife, for example, is already reminding me when her birthday is.
Charles Martin
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DiabloConQueso
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Mar 12, 2015, 09:34 AM
 
Well, don't forget, mine's in October!
     
DCJ001
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Mar 12, 2015, 05:45 PM
 
"Teardown reveals 2x faster PCIe-based flash storage in new 13-inch MBA"

It is 1x faster, or 2x the speed of.

"the MacBook Air averaged around 100MB/sec read speeds, with slightly lower write speeds. The PCIe-based flash in the 11-inch MBA and the 2014 models are more than six times faster, with read speeds around 650MB/sec"

It is not more than six times faster. It is more than five times faster, or more than six times the speed of."
     
   
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