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  • KitsuneKnight - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    It's good to see progress being made on this front. With any luck, Apple will throw their weight behind this effort, and basically the entire industry will be able to standardize around a common high speed, tiny interface. Proprietary interfaces are only really acceptable when there's a need to get something out there immediately, and no standardize interface can accomplish the needs... but long term, the goal should be to try to adopt and champion standard interfaces. Reply
  • danjw - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    Apple go along with an industry standard that they didn't start? When has that happened in recent memory? Reply
  • erikwpotter - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    Recently? How about yesterday. They announced a fairly well known device that supported a couple of non-Apple standards. Off the cuff you can find they "went along" with...

    GSM
    UMTS
    HSPA+
    DC-HSDPA
    CDMA EV-DO Rev. A
    CDMA EV-DO Rev. B
    LTE
    802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi (and a number of other 802.? standards)
    Bluetooth 4.0
    3.5mm stereo headphone jack
    USB
    AAC
    HE-AAC
    MP3
    MP3 VBR
    Audible/Audible Enhanced Audio/AAX/AAX+
    WAV
    H.264
    .m4v
    .mp4
    MPEG-4
    Motion JPEG
    ulaw
    .avi
    .jpg
    .tiff
    .gif (images)
    .doc and .docx
    .htm and .html
    .pdf
    .ppt and .pptx
    .txt
    .rtf
    .vcf
    .xls and .xlsx
    a ridiculous number of standards related to IP communications
    50Hz
    60Hz
    120V
    240V
    a number of power plug standards
    Composite AV
    VGA
    DVI
    HDMI
    DisplayPort
    ...

    You can find a couple of Apple proprietary systems though...

    The Lightning dock connector...that connects to USB for data and power charging...and has an adapter for compatibility with the dock used on all previous iPhones.

    FairPlay, unlike Microsoft when they abandoned the people that bought music with their PlaysForSure DRM.
    Reply
  • lowlymarine - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    While we're being pedantic, a huge number of those aren't "standards" as defined by the International Organization for Standardization. The old MS proprietary office formats, for example, or a variety of proprietary, patent-encumbered media formats (.gif, MP3, AAC, H.264). Also, Apple very explicitly DIDN'T support normal DisplayPort, foisting their own MiniDP design on us instead (not that that has anything to do with the iPhone anyways). Similarly, I must have missed the USB port on the new iPhone, and the VGA, DVI, HDMI, Composite AV ports as well. Unless you're referring to their PROPRIETARY dock connector for which they will gladly sell you very expensive adapters for (some of) those standards? Reply
  • Guspaz - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    Widely adopted, logical, rational standards are not evil just because Apple originated them, especially when they offer it royalty-free and push to get it part of the standard (it's now part of DisplayPort 1.2, since early 2009). They needed a small modern connector format and nothing out there already fit the bill (mini HDMI was probably the only other possibility and it has a rather delicate connector), so they came up with a new one. Clearly there was a need there, because you can currently find it on laptops and videocards from most major vendors, and you'll eventually find it in all laptops and desktops once Thunderbolt gets integrated into platform chipsets... Reply
  • yankeeDDL - Friday, September 14, 2012 - link

    Give me a break: the connector does what a normal micro USB does. It is a deliberate choice to make yet another standard connector. Reply
  • darwiniandude - Saturday, September 15, 2012 - link

    Micro USB does not allow for a cheap adaptor to make use of all the existing 30 pin dock connector equipment out there. That would have really angered people, not being able to upgrade their phone and keep the same docking speaker or car system.

    Micro USB is very very fragile. The 30 pin dock connector, is also fragile.

    I've seen so many people break 30 pin connectors and Apple has to replace the device, it costs them money.
    Reply
  • danjw - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    And USB was around when Apple created the 30 pin adapter. Reply
  • quiksilvr - Saturday, September 15, 2012 - link

    They could have just used microusb 3.0 if speed was the concern and integrate MHL. Reply
  • Guspaz - Saturday, September 15, 2012 - link

    micro USB is pretty horrible; instead of adding additional pins to the existing micro USB connector (as Samsung did on the GS3), they designed a monstrosity of a connector that is twice as large and has two distinct connectors. The damned thing is the same width as a full-sized USB connector. Reply
  • darwiniandude - Saturday, September 15, 2012 - link

    Bur far more fragile. Even full size USB is pretty fragile, gets squashed etc but the microUSB3 connectors are terrible, as you say. Reply
  • erikwpotter - Friday, September 14, 2012 - link

    While we're being persnickety, nobody was talking about ISO standards until you chose to refocus solely on standards defined by a single standards organization of your choosing and/or only standards that are unencumbered by patents of any kind.

    Are we to assume by implication that you believe NGFF standards (and by association the PCI, PCIe, & SATA standards it supports) are ISO certified and free of all proprietary technologies and unencumbered by patents?
    Reply
  • bsd228 - Friday, September 14, 2012 - link

    This is a pretty silly list, generated on the notion that throwing a lot of crap against the wall will make it a compelling argument. But come on - Apple doesn't have a choice on accepting jpg/gif/pdf....these are document formats that people need to be able to access. It has nothing to do with how the hardware level behaves.

    The new iphone rejected a standard micro-USB that is used by everything else on earth and came up with their own new compact plug. It does offer an advantage in working in both directions, but still requires people to maintain a second set of connectors and chargers. Likewise, it would be no surprise that they would prefer to keep a proprietary connection for small form factor SSDs so they can continue to charge huge premiums for 512G laptops, lest buyers get the 256G one and replace it themselves.
    Reply
  • erikwpotter - Saturday, September 15, 2012 - link

    Ok, so let me summarize to make sure I understand your argument.

    1) danjw asks when in recent memory Apple went along with an industry standard that they didn't start

    2) A list of standards supported in a new Apple product announced the day before is posted to present facts to challenge danjw's claim. Yes some standards listed seriously and some, admittedly, more jokingly though still truthfully.

    3) You claim the list is "pretty silly" and that the long list of factual challenges to danjw's claim is not a "compelling argument", yet only chose to note an exception to one of them that you claim Apple had no choice but to accept. Even that single claim fails to challenge the truth of the statement, instead accepting the truth with only the assertion that Apple had no choice. This still goes to show that Apple was supporting a standard they didn't start.

    4) Then we get to something tasty. You don't like that Apple chose to continue using a port of their design rather than move to micro-USB. That is of course your choice.

    However, others may prefer the proprietary choice over the less functional alternative. After all it offers all the functionality that micro-USB offers, including plugging into USB, and it provides additional functionality that is absent from USB that some consumers value having access to. You yourself admit to one of the other advantages it offers, weakening your own argument. Other things that consumers may benefit from include the audio/video output capabilities the port provides.

    The downside argument is that it sill requires people to maintain a second set of connectors and chargers...well there are a number of people out there that don't own a single micro-USB cable or charger. I've got one on my camera and I never use it because the battery charges faster when I put it in its proprietary wall charger. Additionally that camera has to also have a second connector for HDMI because USB can't handle the audio/video output. If only my camera had a single port that could handle both tasks and charge my battery faster.

    Whether or not Apple moves to adopt this new standard in the future remains to be seen. Given that NGFF didn't exist when Apple last updated their laptops, and that it is in fact still in a draft state and is a non-existing product used by nobody, it is "pretty silly" to complain that Apple has not used it yet.
    Reply
  • SteveTheWalrus - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    Apple usually likes its own standards vs. ones the industry likes, but it would nice if they did. I also hopes aus puts these in the next zenbook ( or really that all ultrabook class devices adopt these) Reply
  • vlado08 - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    Small NGFFcards used like SD cards ! Reply
  • CaptainDoug - Friday, September 14, 2012 - link

    Wow. That seems super possible. Reply
  • nerd1 - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    Basically all ultrabook / tablet OEMs are using them except for apple, and 256GB mSATA drives are already common (512GB ones are on sale too)

    And mSATA drives are half the size of what Apple uses too.
    Reply
  • madmilk - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    Half the size is hardly a good thing if you need more capacity though. For example, Apple offers 768GB drives in their laptops (for an exorbitant price), which is a pretty good jump over a 512GB mSATA drive. (Admittedly, I cannot find it on sale anywhere, though apparently Crucial makes them.) This NGFF card format does a pretty good job solving that with different lengths. Reply
  • nerd1 - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    Because of mSATA cards being half the size, Apple could put TWO mSATA slots instead of having one proprietary slot, letting customer upgrade using one free slot or go for RAID 0 for even better performance. Reply
  • Guspaz - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    Except mSATA is not half the size. while the Apple style is roughly 24mm x 109mm x 3.9mm, while the mSATA drives are 51mm x 30mm x 4.9mm.

    It's half the length, yes, but it's 25% wider and thicker. That'd make it harder to fit in a lot of places where thickness or width is important.
    Reply
  • nerd1 - Friday, September 14, 2012 - link

    http://cdn.arstechnica.net//wp-content/uploads/201...

    MBA one is indeed narrower, but rMBP one is WIDER than mSATA.
    Reply
  • darwiniandude - Saturday, September 15, 2012 - link

    That's what she said. Reply
  • Alexvrb - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    The B and M keys of the new standard also irritates me a bit. If you're going to make a new standard to replace mSATA, and it's got PCIe in both sockets 2 and 3 (2X vs 4X), why not just make them all socket 3 PCIe 4X and standardize on that? If you want SATA there's still mSATA. Reply
  • macuser2134 - Friday, September 14, 2012 - link

    Good question. When they debated and discussed the standard, will have been some kind of careful rationalization for their decision to keep SATA compatibility. I am guessing they just really want to give their new standard best chances for being adopted by the industry. All of today's successful SSD designs are SATA III. It is so much cheaper for the manufacturers to re-cycle a current SATA 3 design, just re-work it onto the new PCB form factor.

    As for the argument that mSATA is good enough. Well, unfortunately it really isn't. the only thing mSATA was ever suited for is small cache drives and small boot drives. It's simply not big enough to accomodate enough NAND chips.

    Forgetting PCIe for now, and thinking only about SATA drives: the new standard is still far more suitable to notebook + SSD makers than mSATA. Because a) they can make much larger capacities which were not possible with mSATA, and/or 2) use the much cheaper lower density NAND chips with the sensible choice(s)/options for PCB area. Meanwhile, the overall size of your notebook or mobile device remains almost exactly the same.

    Now about the PCIe lanes, and having 2 physical connectors: Well, these standards people probably realized they didn't know the answers to some very important questions:

    Will the faster PCI 4x lanes connector ever be needed? By the time we have reached the 2GB/s limit, then PCIe 4.0 specification will be already released, and version 4.0 of PCI consortium are aiming again to double the bus speed over the previous PCI specification. So that speed increase (4GB/s) might equally be achieved by staying with the original SATA-compatible connector, rather than wheeling out the PCI-only connector. Nobody knows yet.

    And if the PCI bus is made faster, then the problem is deffered. The question then becomes: will 8GB/Sec speeds be needed in 2015+... and again nobody currently knows or can predict that either. However by then the SSD manufacturers will have had plenty of time to stop making SATA 3 drives completely, and instead we will have a healthy market for the first-gen PCI 3.0 2x lane drives. At that time, when SATA finally dies, the notebook makers will all be making their new laptops with the 2nd kind of PCI-only slot. So then it doesn't really matter. Any remaining consumers still hanging on to 5-year old notebooks will still be able to buy 2Gigabyte/sec 2-lane SSDs for them. Just like you can buy very cheap Vertex 2's today. Its really the same thing as SATA 1 backwards compatibility.
    Reply
  • Alexvrb - Saturday, September 15, 2012 - link

    Deferring the problem? Until what day? Until Intel comes in and fixes the problem, and in doing so creates another proprietary connector? You're endorsing their lazy stopgap measure. 4 lanes is 4 lanes. It would be twice as fast today, and twice as fast when they implement PCIe 4.0, whenever that eventually happens. If they pushed Socket 3 only, we'd have a lot more machines with that instead of Socket 2, with the then-defunct SATA half and gimped bandwidth. By the time PCIe 4.0 comes around, I fully expect both mSATA and the SATA half of Socket 2 to be obsolete.

    We already have PCIe-based SSDs. Manufacturers seem to be capable of building them. If there was a real demand, they'd build tons of them, and costs would plummet. I'd prefer to see a healthy market of 4 lane devices, instead of ending up with a split market. So like I said, I think they would have been better off sticking with mSATA for the current generation less-expensive SATA III compatible interface, and then phasing it out entirely for a pure PCIe setup. Have you even looked at any mSATA drives recently? They've got 256GB M4 and XPG drives on Newegg. The prices aren't even all that bad, for that density.

    Anyone that needed more speed, capacity, or the new form factor could then use a Socket 3 4-lane solution, which should supersede mSATA over time. Others could stick with mSATA if it suits their needs, for cache drives or even primary storage in some devices. Instead, now we have mSATA, and not one but two new sockets, one of which has... SATA and 2 lanes. The two lanes part is barely faster than SATA 3, why bother? Again, by the time PCIe 4.0 comes out, mSATA should be phased out anyway for this sort of application.

    Imagine if (when PCIe was first introduced) there were two PCIe interfaces, and two incompatible connector types, one was pure PCIe. The other was half PCI, half PCIe (with half the lanes of the same size PCIe connector). On top of this, you can't connect older PCI cards. You can build cards that fit both slots, but they only use half the PCIe lanes if connected to a pure PCIe slot. It's not quite a perfect comparison, but it's just about as silly.
    Reply
  • Pessimism - Friday, September 14, 2012 - link

    Guaranteed Apple will still make some subtle tweak to theirs, an extra pin, a different voltage to keep their stranglehold over parts supply. Reply
  • web2dot0 - Friday, September 14, 2012 - link

    Please refrain from conjecture and speculation until the facts are in. Just makes you look like a Apple Hater.

    The previous posters said, Apple needed proprietary specs because they needed SSD of non-standard dimensions and high capacity SSD drives.

    If you don't like it, don't buy them. Let the market speak, not your mouth.

    I thought we are all for the market? What happened to capitalism?
    Reply
  • extide - Friday, September 14, 2012 - link

    Yeah but they changed the pinout on their drive several times for no reason other than to have stranglehold over parts supply. Reply
  • Pessimism - Monday, September 17, 2012 - link

    The previous posters are speculating as much as you claim I am. Somehow every other major manufacturer manages to make thin and light laptops using industry standard, MSATA parts. The argument that Apple NEEDS to use their own oddball, vendor locked size of part to manufacture a laptop is pretty weak. As the other poster below mentions, this is not the first time nor will it be the last that Apple modifies standard components to only work with their systems. Google "Apple hard drive firmware". Also, their OS disables TRIM on non-apple SSDs. Their OS used to cripple non apple optical drives. Reply
  • euler007 - Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - link

    Man, Apple shareholders are really on edge. Reply
  • Casper42 - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    I wonder if it would be possible or really feasible to use these new SSDs as a higher tier cache on Enterprise and possibly consumer RAID controllers.
    Small enough that they could bolt one on to the Controller and either access it as SATA or maybe through a PLX type chip on the card.

    Intel has their Consumer side SSD as a cahe (Forgetting the name)
    HP introduces Smart Cache on their Gen8 line of Smart Array controllers
    3rd Parties like VeloBit's HyperCache can do this on almost any machine.

    Makes sense that the RAID controller (in those environments where you need one anyway) would be an intelligent place to put something like this.

    Or maybe not. If you have the RAID controller and NGFF separate, then anything mentioned above would still potentially work.

    Eh, just a thought (that didn't involve Apple)
    Reply
  • Casper42 - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    PS: I would also love to see in a year or two, both a traditional 9.5mm SATA slot AND this NGFF in a standard sized notebook (obviously too bulky for UltraBooks) and just ditch the Optical drive already. Isn't USB 2.0 faster than most if not all BluRay drives let alone DVD?

    Would raise the cost of the machine what, $5?, to include a USB DVD drive instead of a built in.

    Hell, Starbucks could even sell $30 USB DVD drives in store for people who forget theirs and absolutely have to have one in a hurry.
    Reply
  • Valantar - Monday, May 20, 2013 - link

    I know this post is really old, but I just came across it, and I'm not sure I'm very happy about what I see with the two incompatible(?) connectors. First of all, what is the problem with maintaining SATA compatibility on the type 3 connector? If anything, shouldn't this be possible to do on the controller/hardware side (mSATA ports supports both SATA and PCIe, no?)? Secondly, why have two different connectors at all? I understand the size/thickness argument, but seriously, that should be possible to overcome in basically any device with some good design/engieneering (considering the amount of air found inside most devices outside of smartphones, this should be solveable). All I see this resulting in is manufacturers going the cheap route with their laptops/tablets and using the "cache only" connector, rather than the faster type 3 connector and thus screwing consumers out of the option of upgrading to a higher capacity/performance SSD. At least a spec like this should make it mandatory for manufacturers to state both connector type and max card length in device specifications. Also, why make a spec for a 30mm card without ever mentioning it again, and specifically leaving it out of the proposed usage examples? The suggestion that SSDs use 42 or 80mm cards also leads me to think that 110mm cards (and thus the highest possible capacities) will both be incompatible with most devices and very rare (produced in small quantities), leading to exorbitant pricing both for devices supporting these and the SSDs themselves. Again, a bad idea. However, if the type 2 connector could see use as a replacement for the horribly slow eMMC storage used on many tablets today, that would be a worthwhile usage scenario, albeit the only one I see where the type 3 might not be possible. Reply
  • mkozakewich - Sunday, October 06, 2013 - link

    It's been a year and we've seen some good implementations. Do any of you have interest in using one of these as a kind of flash drive replacement? I was looking for some kind of M.2-to-USB-3.0 adapter caddy, but the only ones I found were big thick things. It would be handy if you could find samples of thin (8mm?) cases. Reply

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