MacBook Air and FLASH-based Hard Drives: The Quest for Instant On

History is always a good thing to sequester when dealing with electronic gadgets, and Apple Inc. is no exception. They always deliver the goods, be it a new device, the Apple iPad, the Apple iPhone 4, refreshed Apple iPod Nano, Apple iPod Touch, Apple iPod Shuffle, and the Apple iTV all deserving of their own special blog articles – as soon as they become newsworthy, as all the Tech News uproar is STILL Tablet- centric, Silicon Valley still smarting from its sudden appearance out of nowhere, tackled, like American football, to the ground straight out of left field. But the spotlight is still on the recent “one more thing” event hosted by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, in which invitations were sent out, shaped like an Apple Logo being cut out of paper, turnstile 3D oriented and an image of a Lion in the background. Trademark Apple, keeping all their cards to their chest until the last minute only to leave you hanging in suspense as the Apple Fanboys feed on the rumours. But when the event landed on Wednesday 20th October 2010, the obvious was true: The Lion was indeed the name for the latest iteration of Mac OS, specifically called Mac 10.7 Lion, the eight major Operating System release for the Mac, with specs only a true Apple Fanboy would gush over.

So when it became apparent that aside from the new OS, there was also a revamp of the now famously pricey ultra-portable laptop du jeur, the Apple MacBook Air, everyone (gasp!) was tackled from left field, akin to the football play, yet again! An alignment of two (2) older products to the interactive iOS 4.0 Platform was totally unexpected, but reasonable, given prior predictions from CNET Blog Network Writer Brooke Crothers. Indeed, with such an excellent product and specs for the Tech types to drool over for the older model, the specs of the newer model seems very blasé, most notable being the fact that at least CNET Blog Network Writer Brooke Crothers was spot on with one prediction – the 11.6” screen along with the regular 13”screen, the 11.6” screen effectively a Netbook, albeit disappointingly not an end-to-end Gorilla Glass screen. But wait there just a second! Still drool-worthy is the concept introduced by Apple MacBook Air, which Apple CEO Steve Jobs emphatically insists is not a NetBook, is an improvement of a previous concept built on by the previous Apple MacBook Air, that being the concept of Instant-On. This, folks, is a game changer for not only the Laptop but the Netbook world, as low power and Instant-On are characteristics of tablets – or should I say THE Tablet, the Apple iPad. So how did Apple achieve this noteworthy game changing feat? Thus my quest for knowledge begins from the same CNET Blog Network Writer Brooke Crothers and his informative article on the advent of managed NAND.

NAND (Not AND) is a technical term that describes the type of transistors used to make memory commonly used in a Computers NetBooks and Laptops, Thumb Drives or smart phones. These voltage controlled transistors which are called FET (Field Effect Transistors), can either be P-Channel or N-Channel, depending on whether it involves the flow of electrons (-ve) or holes (+ve) charges and are Voltage Controlled Devices, as opposed to BJT (Bipolar Junction Transistors), the basis of TTL (Transistor Logic) based electronics, such as LCD (Liquid Crystal Display), LED (Light Emitting Diode) and the more recent AMOLED (Amorphous Organic Light Emitting Diode), popular in such capacitive touch based devices such as the Dell Streak, a soon-to-be favourite of Medical Doctors, if Dell has their way. The commercially viable form of FET is based on Metal Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) Technology, thus such transistors are called MOSFET and are the basis of ROM (Read Only Memory) and all its children, FLASH Memory and all her cousins, SD (Secure Digital) Drives and all her children, MP3 Memory in their multi-faceted form factors, SDRAM (Static Dynamic Random Access Memory) and all her children, DDRAM (Dynamic Dynamic RAM) and all her children and SSD (Solid State Drives) and all her children, now descended down to the Apple MacBook Air, all of which are forms of EEPROM (Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory). Thus this is semi-complete, semi-autobiographical “begats” of Semiconductor Memory, based on AND, OR and NOT Logic, with Hard Drives being a relic of the 60’s, existing in IDE and SATA flavors, despite the techie hype over them being advanced. In summary, Hard Drives, despite their augmentation with FLASH memory, so called Hybrid Drives and any future prognostications as to their viable future by analysts, are effectively dead; long live the SSD (Solid State Drive)!

Thus, in the Memory World, faster logic switching and low power, which is what voltage controlled devices offer, the pinnacle of which is CMOS, the “C” designating “Complementary” and thus represents a much faster technology, the full name of course being CMOSFET, are currently “in fashion”, the NKOTB (New Kids on The Block). I could draw a diagram or better yet, fetch one of the fancier ones of the Internet, but alas, of what interest is that to ye? Simply know that all memory circuits are based on variants CMOS Technology and the CMOSFET N-Channel and P-channel logic gates of AND, OR and NOT gates are combined to build NAND Logic, the basis of ALL Memory, be it “Raw” or Managed NAND, “Raw” NAND being endemic to mainly MP3 players. It is widely suspected, based on the spec sheet, the smoking gun in this mystery, for the new Apple MacBook Air, which Apple has opted this time around to go the Managed NAND route in keeping with the tradition of a lower power requirements of their device and thus increased battery life even with full 1080p video playback time of five (5) hours, and a whopping thirty (30) days of battery life on standby. Sold!

Yep, the price, US$999 at an Apple Store (add shipping and handling if you are an International purchaser) is right, despite what your opinion of Apple, love ‘em or hate ‘em. SSD’ are the future and the Apple MacBook Air, akin to its closest form factor cousin, the Apple iPad, is not only a game changer, but is the future of Notebook Computing, in the Quest for Instant-On.

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.


  • I would like to share that Apple has just released the 11.6-Inch Laptop: MacBook Air MC505LL/A. This laptop uses 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo Processor, 64 GB Solid State Drive, 2GB DDR3 SDRAM, NVIDIA GeForce 320M Integrated Graphics. For others details info you may visit the site. I appreciate giving the chance to share this info. Cheers!

  • iSymphony

    SSDs are really good, while still a little expensive for their size, they deliver a decent performance. I think the combination of a slow external drive for data storage and movies and an internal SSD are the perfect combo.

  • james braselton

    hi there your wrong ssd cost are coming down fast you should check back on the internet prices per gb are dropping fast soon hdd be history oh check out the 11.6 inch macbook air price $999 for 64 gb or $1,199 for 128 gb ssd computer the 13.3 inch macbook air 128 gb for $1,299 or 256 gb 13.3 inch macbook air for $1,599

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