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Apple Now Using SandForce-based SSDs in 2012 MacBook Air

An old saying goes, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

It seems as though Apple has decided to follow our lead and base the Solid State Drives in the new 2012 MacBook Air models (model ID MacBookAir5,1 and MacBookAir5,2) on the SandForce 2281 processor.

As you may know, our Aura Pro Express was the first aftermarket SSD available for 2010-2011 MacBook Air machines (and still the only one offered for the 2010 MBA models) and our Aura Pro MBA joined that first of its kind status for the 2008-2009 MacBook Airs.

Unfortunately though, the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 15″ Retina Display models use a new SSD slot connector design, thus making our Aura Pro Express not compatible.

From the very first OWC Mercury SSD we built two plus years ago, SandForce was the only processor we considered worthy to represent our brand. We’re pleased to see Apple has finally adopted what we have found to be the best SSD controller for our own drives.

While that unofficial endorsement of our decision to only use SandForce controllers is gratifying, we’re more excited about what that kind of support from Apple should mean in terms of new developments from SandForce.

The future of Mac-focused SSDs just got brighter for sure.

On that note, be sure to check back soon as we’ll have more posts regarding SSD developments.

UPDATE 6/12/12 

Apparently, the shine could be a bit off on this apple, so to speak. We just received an image from an industry associate who bought a new 2012 11″ MacBook Air and it shows a Samsung controller-based SSD. That’s a bit reminiscent of a similar issue with the 2011 machines; if you got the Toshiba-based SSD, you got slower performance than the Samsung. There was no way to specify or otherwise ensure you would get the higher performing Samsung SSD, so it was like playing the lottery.

Stay tuned to the blog as we’ll work on getting both the new 2012 MacBook Air SSDs and do some benchmarking to see if there is any performance difference like there was in past.

Rocket Yard Contributor
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  • I would like to see a speed test of a 4gb ram 2011 MacBook air with an owc SSD vs the new stock model. Can you make this happen? A rep at the Mac store told me there was no longer any reason to upgrade to an owc sad because of the stock improvements and I would like to see it proven or call his bluff.

    • In my very brief tests the 256GB Samsung STOCK drive in the 2012 MBA performs significantly faster then my 256GB OWC SSD in my 2011 MBA (caveat is that in the 2011 it has been utilized for over a year, whereas the 2012 MBA I have used only for a few weeks (although cloned contents from 2011 to the 2012 so same level of hard disk utilization).

      Cant wait for OWC to post bench-marks to see if its worth upgrading to an OWC disk on the 2012.

  • Why doesn’t OWC make Sandforce gum-stick SSDs for Windows based Ultra-books?!

  • Does this mean that Apple has finally updated TRIM in Mac OS X to work with Sandforce SSDs?

    With the factory installed Sandforce SSDs is TRIM enabled?

  • Does this mean that the new SSD will not be user-replaceable as they were mid 2011 MBA’s?

    • If we can bring a replacement drive to market, the installation would be virtually identical.

  • The tech specs seem to imply that SSD sizes are 64, 128, 256 and 512GB in the new Airs. Are they not utilizing the standard over provisioning of the Sandforce controllers, or is Apple just not disclosing this and thus the usable space is much less than advertised (even more than standard formatting will take up)?

    • Well, their 128GB drive reports in Lion as 121.3GB – which is not quite a full 7% for overprovisioning after formatting. In comparison our 120GB Aura reports at 120.3GB.