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Rumor: Apple Plans Proprietary SSD Storage for New 11.6-Inch MacBook Air

MacBook Air mockups
(Image courtesy of MacRumors and AppleInsider)

As the work week winds down and speculation swirls about Wednesday’s “Back to the Mac” event at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, a new rumor has surfaced with at least one possibility on the hardware front.

MacRumors is reporting that Apple is hard at work on a new MacBook Air to be unveiled at the media event coming next Wednesday, October 20. According to AppleInsider, reports dating back several months point to a smaller display — 11.6 inch versus the current 13.3 inch, seen at left in the product mockup above. The product refresh may already be in manufacturing, suggesting it may be available immediately after the announcement on Wednesday.

The biggest piece of news in this rumor claims that Apple may finally be taking a bold step in skipping a traditional hard drive and even current solid state drive technology by employing a proprietary “SSD Card” — essentially embedded storage similar to that used in today’s iPhone, iPod and iPad.

“According to this person, the new models will do away with existing options for a conventional hard-disk drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD) in favor something described as an ‘SSD Card’ that lacks a traditional drive enclosure and more closely resembles a stick of RAM, yet is not easily user-replaceable,” the AppleInsider report reveals.

“If accurate, AppleInsider believes the component may be a proprietary SSD drive alternative designed by Apple to be integrated in Macs in a similar manner to the way flash memory is embedded in iPods, iPhones and iPads. This approach would be less expensive than a standard package intended to fit the shape of conventional HD devices, allowing the company to drive down costs and pass the savings on to the consumer.”

A flash-only MacBook Air would have other benefits to the consumer besides cost, not the least of which are much faster boot and wake times, and as impossible as it might seem, an even thinner MacBook Air design.

CNET believes such a computer would be priced “significantly lower” than the current ,499 entry-level price for the MacBook Air, which has kept the laptop from living up to its sales potential. Their sources also claim the new model will keep the current Intel Core 2 Duo processor and feature extended battery life over the existing model.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter


Apple Patent Reveals Plans for Audio Ports

It looks as though Apple could be ready to fire off yet another salvo as part of their continuing war against buttons and peripheral holes. A war you say?


In 2006, the company did away with one hole by giving us the Magsafe power connector. In recent years you may also have noticed that their video out interfaces keep getting smaller and smaller: You just know that it’s leading to the utter destruction of a physical video connection in their gear. Similarly, the introduction of the MacBook Air and its single dual purpose headphone/microphone jack signaled an impending unceremonial farewell to the presence of microphone port in their mobile devices. If a patent application filed today is any indication, Apple may be just that much closer to perfecting the latter and realizing their dream of a smooth, hole-free housing for their devices:

“A connector for receiving a cylindrical plug, the connector comprising: a body defining an aperture and a cavity for receiving the cylindrical plug; a plurality of electrical contacts in communication with the cavity, the plurality of electrical contacts making electrical connections with the cylindrical plug when received in the cavity, at least one of the electrical contacts mechanically engaging and retaining the cylindrical plug when received in the cavity; and a microphone coupled to the body such that the aperture and the cavity provide an acoustic path to the microphone.”

Compared to some of the more pie-in-the-sky patent applications we’ve seen coming out of Cupertino over the years, this one, a bid to refine their machinations for the impending doom of a physical port they’ve already taken steps to do away with, seems down right reasonable. However, be they zany or straight laced, as we’re always reminding you, it’s best to take any and all patents filed by Apple with a grain of salt as many of them never make the leap from the drawing board into a fully realized product.