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Old June 15th, 2009, 03:39 AM   #1
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New MBP 13 & 15 Inch have downgraded SATA interface

I did a quick search and did not see this mentioned but Macrumours is reporting the following. Look on their site directly for more information..... but I thought this might be important for us video editors so post it here before you all rush out and buy these new MBP's. Makes me even more pleased I've got an older MBP! To quote Macrumours,

"Apple seems to have quietly downgraded the SATA Interface from 3.0Gbit to 1.5Gbit speeds in some of the new MacBook Pros introduced last week. Readers are reporting that both the new 13" and 15" MacBook Pro models are affected while the 13" MacBook (white), 17" MacBook Pro and 13" MacBook Air retain the 3.0Gbit SATA interface. SATA is the interface between a computer and its hard drives.

The slower SATA interface is unlikely to affect the bulk of users as even the fastest traditional hard drives are unable to saturate even the 1.5 Gbit interfaces. However, if you are planning on buying a fast Solid State Drive (SSD), it could affect the drive's performance. The downgrade of the interface in the new MacBook Pro has also been confirmed in early benchmarks using a fast enough SSD. Forum user fpnc provides an excellent summary of the findings so far:

1.) It appears nearly certain that the new 13" and 15" MacBook Pros are all reporting a SATA interface running at 1.5Gb and not the faster 3.0Gb rate that has been in pretty common use for the last few years. These new models have the Secure Digital (SD) slot and also appear to have redesigned motherboards.

2.) Those who are using standard hard disk drives will probably see no difference in performance. If that is you, you can stop reading now.

3.) Benchmarks on FAST solid-state drives (SSDs) are showing a decrease in RAW disk i/o transfer rates on these same systems (in comparison to the previous generation MacBook Pros and MacBooks).

4.) The largest differences in the benchmark results seem to be in large, sequential disk READS (one of the traditional strengths with SSDs).

5.) To the best of my knowledge, no one has done any test with REAL-WORLD operations to show that the user experience (i.e. "performance") will be decreased with the 1.5Gb SATA interface. That is to say that thus far we've only seen benchmarks done with RAW disk i/o benchmarking tools.

6.) No one really knows why this has been done and no one knows whether it can be fixed with a software/firmware update (it may or may not be able to be fixed).

While there is a lot of speculation about if this could be "corrected" by software in the future, there are no definitive answers. At a minimum, it should serve as a caution for those customers who were planning on upgrading to fast SSD drives in their new 13" or 15" MacBook Pros. While you may still see performance benefits over traditional hard drives, the total benefit may be blunted."

Quote ends.
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Old June 15th, 2009, 10:06 AM   #2
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Yeah well I think MacBook SemiPro doesn't roll off the tongue quite as nicely.

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Old June 15th, 2009, 10:10 AM   #3
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This is interesting but from what I've been able to gather, SSDs have not yet been able to take advantage of the 1.5GB rate (or above) except in very pricey enterprise grade rack mount drives. Benchmarks: Benchmarks 2009 Flash SSD Charts

Apparently the single SSD units that go into most laptops can't approach even half of the bandwidth of the 1.5GB SATA interface, but I could be reading this wrong.
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Old June 15th, 2009, 11:00 AM   #4
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That was my understanding as well. While SSD is nice it isn't as fast as some people think it is. It has potential to be very fast someday but that day is not now.

The switch to SATA 1.5 is interesting but I'm not all that concerned with it really. Take a look at the Western Digital Raptor drives for example. They have always been SATA 1.5 and they usually perform better then most SATA 3.0 drives. Of course they are 10,000 RPM but the point is that the SATA bandwidth is the theoretical limit and is hardly ever reached in the real world except for in high end raid situations. What matters with drives is sustained rates not peak rates.

By the time I would feel like wasting money on a SSD I'm sure I will be in the market for yet another new laptop a few years from now.
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Old June 15th, 2009, 12:13 PM   #5
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There are two sides to disk performance. What you are all talking about here with throughput is the maximum rate that you can stream a file(s) off a disk, Unless you are copying a big file from one disk to another this doesn't concern you overmuch. The other important metric is the latency or how fast you can get at the data on the disk. For hard disks this comprises the disk spin-up time, seek time (time the head moves across the platter to the correct track) & the rotational delay (waiting for the required data to spin round & arrive under the read head. For an SSD the latency is minimal in comparison to a mechanical disk.

A top of the range SSD with a data transfer rate of >200MBps could theoretically max out a SATA-1 bus rated at 1.5Gbps (200MB=1.6Gb). However in normal use this is unlikely & the vastly reduced disk latency will be far more important to overall I/O performance.
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Old June 15th, 2009, 12:16 PM   #6
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BTW Performance is only part of the reason for using an SSD in a laptop. Other very important qualities of an SSD include shock-resistance, lower power consumption & thus lower heat dissipation.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 04:58 PM   #7
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Seems Apple have now addressed this - Now back to 3gbps SATA.

MacBook Pro update rights the wrong, enables 3Gbps SATA transfers

Matt displays and the return of Express Slot 34 next please!
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