Apple looks to use Intel’s Robson tech instead of Samsung’s hybrid flash technology for Macs

“Apple Computer has reportedly turned down an offer to incorporate new flash-enhanced hybrid hard drives from Samsung into its Mac computer line, likely proceeding with plans to use technology from Intel Corp. instead,” AppleInsider reports.

AppleInsider reports, “Like several other PC manufacturers, the Cupertino, Calif.-based Mac maker has been working on a next-generation notebook design that will incorporate NAND flash memory to enhance the speed of some operations while simultaneously delivering longer battery life. Apple, as AppleInsider reported this past September, is said to be working closely with Intel on the matter, leveraging a feature of the chipmaker’s upcoming Santa Rosa notebook platform dubbed Robson.”

“However, a report over at APC claims that somewhere along the way Apple was approached by Samsung, which pitched its own proprietary solution called flash-enhanced hybrid hard drive… ‘We did propose the HDD (hybrid disk drive) concept to Apple,’ said Chuck Kang, an engineer from Samsung’s the Flash Memory Planning Group, ‘but Apple’s opinion is that they’re not going to use HDD for their systems… they won’t support it.’ The report, rather speculatively, implies that Apple will instead introduce systems with Intel’s Robson technology “one year from the introduction” of its first Intel-based notebook, the MacBook Pro Core Duo,” AppleInsider reports.

Full article here.

Related article:
RUMOR: Apple to employ Intel’s ‘Robson’ NAND flash tech to create ‘instant-on’ Macs – November 22, 2005


  1. Apple are using Intel to do a lot of their R&D in terms of chipset design. It makes no sense for Apple to go for proprietary design since their success will lie in provide high quality product at reasonable prices and with a world class OS.

    Apple won’t be fighting a price war with Dell, HP etc since that approach is doomed to failure. Rather they will win by being smarter than everyone else. Apple’s relationship with Intel has been wildly successful so far, so why rock the boat.

  2. Of course Apple is going to use Intel’s tech in this area. That’s not news.

    What is news here is the fact that the report says that Apple will debut the technology at MWSF ’07. Now, Santa Rosa is to be introduced in “Spring 2007” (last I heard). It isn’t a stretch at all (to me, at least) that Apple may get its little paws on some Santa Rosa motherboards a couple months early. This quite drastically changes the prospects of MWSF this year, if this “report” has any validity.

    MWSF ’07:

    – Holiday quarter iPod/Mac sales numbers
    – Update on retail operations
    – New .Mac
    – Quick iWork update
    – iLife ’07
    – Remaining Leopard features debuted, shipping date announced
    One more thing:
    – Santa Rosa implementation across the Macintosh line (faster boots, OS X cached in flash 24/7, zero wait for many OS and app features)

    It IS Macworld after all!

    I don’t believe that iTV will be discussed, and I don’t believe that new iPod models will be introduced.

    One more thing: If Apple is going to introduce a phone, they aren’t going to do it at MACworld. Period. There will be a special event for the phone, just like there are for major iPod revisions.


  3. @ To The Flash Doubters: Good post – thanks for the info.

    From the article: “[Samsung’s] technology, due to turn up during the first quarter of next year, essentially takes the approach as Robson but integrates the flash memory into the hard disk assembly rather than on the logic-board.”

    I’d rather have this set-up. If you lose any single part of the hybrid drive, it’s still a straightforward HDD replacement. If Intel is going to seperate the flash memory modules from the HDD, and the flash goes bad, your whole board has to be replaced and that’s a real mess.

    “We did propose the HDD (hybrid disk drive) concept to Apple” said Chuck Kang, an engineer from Samsung’s the Flash Memory Planning Group, “but Apple’s opinion is that they’re not going to use HDD for their systems … they won’t support it”… Intel will sell Robson to OEMs as a mini-card module or a kit of components which can be mounted directly onto the motherboard,” according to the report. “Santa Rosa’s Crestline chipset will act as traffic cop, coordinating Robson’s flow of bits over the PCI Express bus.”

    This also sucks, since if you want to replace a regular HDD from one of Apple’s older laptop products (where putting in a ‘Robson controller board’ won’t be an option) with an all-in-one hybrid drive from Samsung, you’re S.O.O.L. ‘No upgrade for you!’

    C’mon Apple – if this in fact the plan, it’s the least consumer friendly thing you could be doing in this circumstance.

    “The report, rather speculatively, implies that Apple will instead introduce systems with Intel’s Robson technology “one year from the introduction” of its first Intel-based notebook, the MacBook Pro Core Duo.”

    That sounds great – sometime next year – except that the Samsung solution could happen RIGHT NOW. Or at least as fast as their HDDs become available, since no new mobos are necessary. Again, the requirement to have EVERYTHING come form Intel is getting in the way of producing the best product possible (the first example is Intel’s lousy integrated graphics chipset).

    Apple has to do this, because the only way to maintain their favorable pricing position with Intel is by buying literally everything they make. However the trend is subtly going towards missing some better, and on their own merits more cost effective, technological opportunities as they present themselves.

    “Robson is expected to be available in modules starting at 256MB for around $20 and ranging up to 512MB, 1GB and 2GB.”

    From what I understand, Samsung’s modules are in the 2-8GB range at roughly the same price ranges.

    Look, since Apple’s thrown their lot in with Intel 100%, I understand that their OEM products are going to favor that company’s technology. But I see nothing good from a consumer standpoint for Apple to start locking out options from other players. And I especially don’t like the idea that my pre-Robson laptop won’t support a hybrid flash drive from a competitor, when everyone in the Windows world won’t have any similar problems.

    If some POS old DELL can get an upgrade like this, my Apple product should too. Period.
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  4. When Apple were dependent on Motorola, it turned bad because Motorola weren’t taking Apple seriously enough and didn’t deliver the products that Apple so badly needed.

    Contrast this with Intel, where Intel are not only delivering faster chips every few months, but they also whole heartedly welcome input from Apple and are on record saying how much they enjoy working with a partner who pushes them so hard. It’s an arrangement that’s good for Apple, good for Intel and good for customers.

    I don’t see any reason to be worried about Apple being so dependent on Intel, it’s an entirely different relationship to Apple and Motorola.

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