Can a 256GB SSD save the MacBook Air?

When it comes to the MacBook Air I'm a lover and a hater.I waited forever for a real Apple subnotebook, then after getting one I find myself traveling less and craving more horsepower than the diminutive MacBook Air can deliver.

Samsung 256GB SSD destined for MacBook Air

When it comes to the MacBook Air I'm a lover and a hater.

I waited forever for a real Apple subnotebook, then after getting one I find myself traveling less and craving more horsepower than the diminutive MacBook Air can deliver. But I digress.

One decision I don't regret is passing on the ultra-expensive 64GB Solid State Drive (SSD) option when I ordered my MBA. The reasons are endless, from the US$1,000 upcharge, to the tiny 55GB formatted capacity (which is more like 44GB after installing OS X), to the negligible performance gains that the SSD delivers in the real world – although no one knew about that one when we were ordering the svelte machines back in January.

I've always maintained that if SSDs had double the capacity for half the price (~$500) I'd consider it. Well, Samsung's going to do me one better. According to AI they've just announced a 256GB SSD that's larger, cheaper and faster.

Simply called the 256GB FlashSSD, the Serial ATA drive reads in-order data at 200MB per second, or double the rate of Samsung's past 128GB drive. It also boosts write speeds, often a bottleneck on solid-state drives, from 70MB per second to 160MB.

But the real advancement, Samsung says, is in the manufacturing process. Past drives, including the 128GB model, have depended on flash memory using a technique known as single-level cell storage. While quick and reliable, the inability to store more than one bit of data in each cell results in a high cost per drive.

...

The 256GB drive changes this by switching to a new approach to multi-level cell storage that allegedly solves the problems of the format. The technology allows data to be much more densely packed, but has traditionally been slow and short-lived. However, a new drive controller not only gives it the same speed as single-level storage but gives it the same kind of longevity, at roughly one million hours before a failure occurs.

As it's more efficient in storing data, the multi-level cell technology is also "considerably" less expensive to make, though Samsung has stopped short of revealing the exact difference.

While Apple hasn't announced anything, they currently use a Samsung 64GD SSD (the MCCOE64GEMPP) in the MacBook Air. So draw your own conclusions.

If the next MacBook Air has at least a 2GHz processor, 4GB RAM and a 256GB SSD option (that costs less than a car), count me in! If it doesn't (especially the RAM part, Apple) I'm heading for the comforts of a loaded 4GB/500GB MacBook Pro.

Read my previous posts about Solid State Drives (SSDs).

Where do you stand on SSDs?

[poll id=123]