Rescuing a Dead iBook, Retina Macs Expected This Month, Ultrabooks Replacing Netbooks, and More
This Week's PowerBook and iBook News
News & Opinion
- Analysts Agree: We're Going to See Retina Macs in June
- New MacBook Production Causing Upstream Labor Shortages
- Samsung's Second-Generation Chromebook and the World's First Chromebox
- Toshiba to Launch Hybrid Hard Drive in September
- Hard Drive Densities to Double by 2016: 10 to 20 TB 2.5" Hard Drives Possible
- Toshiba America Says No to New Netbooks
- Asustek to Launch 3 New ZenBook Ultrabook Models in June with Near-'Retina' Resolution
News & Opinion
Blogger Graham K. Rogers says one of his colleagues has a G4 iBook that had all gone dead and refused to start. She was ready to send it to the scrap heap, but he asked if she would him me have a look first.
The startup chime was there, but neither the Apple logo nor the spinning gearwheel appeared, nor would single user mode (Command + S) work. However, starting from a OS X 10.5 software install DVD did, as did a DiskWarrior emergency startup disk at first, albeit inducing a good, old-fashioned kernel panic. Rogers was eventually able to boot into Single User mode, access the system, and effect a repair using the command fsck -fy.
With the repair done, the iBook restarted as it should and was returned to its owner with a strong suggestion that any important data should be rescued as a precaution.
Barrons' Tech Trader Daily columnist Tiernan Ray cites Barclays Capitals analyst Ben Reitzes observing that Apple's continued success with tablet computers and MacBook Air laptops poses a threat to hard drive makers and PC makers as the flash-based storage used by Apple on those product lines displaces disk-based storage.
Reitzes suggests that Apple may have more to say about its use of flash drives at its Worldwide Developer Conference on June 11th, where it's widely anticipated that redesigned MacBook Pros equipped with flash storage and MacBook Airs with more flash storage could be announced, also noting that that iPads and iPhones are being used for more PC tasks, extending PC replacement cycles and in some instances displacing some PCs altogether with inevitable adverse impact on hard drive demand for PCs.
Publisher's note: Reitzes says nothing about the way Ultrabooks and forthcoming Windows 8 tablets will further increase the move from traditional spinning drives to solid state drives. One issue here is that Apple's demand for flash memory may make it more difficult and expensive for its competitors to obtain SSDs. dk
9 to 5 Mac's Jordan Kahn reports that The Wall Street Journal published a story last Friday quoting analysts all now apparently in agreement that upgraded Macs are coming this summer, Ben Reitzes of Barclays Capital in particular predicting a new Retina Display equipped Mac lineup will be unveiled at WWDC in June and suggesting that it's likely the new Macs will feature the Retina-display technology used in the iPad, and also that Apple's new OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and new MacBook Airs should be on the market before the first Ultrabook laptops with Windows 8 arrive in the fall.
DigiTimes' Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report that with Apple's new MacBooks expected to launch in the near future, the company's upstream supply chain players are reportedly experiencing labor shortages in their effort to fill Apple's orders - some even outsourcing orders to meet shipment schedules.
The article notes that component manufacturing plants in eastern China have been suffering structural labor shortages for some time, but May and June are usually an IT industry slow season when shortage issues are usually not a major problem - but not this year, with Apple's new MacBook orders leaving many upstream suppliers unable to satisfy demand.
Lee and Tsai say the new MacBook supply chain started delivering product in April with chassis shipments seeing obvious growth in May and are expected to continue to rise in June for a possible July launch.
PR: Samsung Electronics America, Inc. has announced two new products featuring Google's Chrome OS operating system: the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook laptop and the Samsung Series 3 Chromebox desktop.
"The new Samsung Series 5 Chromebook and Series 3 Chromebox provide the rapid, convenient, and ever-improving computing experience that was so well-received in our first Chromebook," says Todd Bouman, vice president of marketing at Samsung Enterprise Business Division. "As the world's first Chromebox, the Series 3 provides users with the Chromebooks ease-of-use in a compact desktop product, which easily integrates with their existing accessories. The second generation Chromebook features powerful components housed in a slim, lightweight body, thanks to Samsung's advanced hardware engineering."
"This is the next step in our journey toward an always-new computing experience focused on speed, simplicity, and security," comments Caesar Sengupta, Director of Product Management at Google. "This next-generation hardware from Samsung based on Intel processors and hardware-accelerated software delivers nearly three times the performance of the first-generation Chromebooks. With a new, app-centric user interface rolling out today and thousands of available web apps, we couldn't be more excited about this evolution."
Weighing just over three pounds and measuring less than an inch thick, the Series 5 Chromebook features a full-sized keyboard and a 12.1" SuperBright LCD display, while the new Samsung Series 3 Chromebox is a compact home or office computer, offering the Chrome operating system in a desktop form factor. At 7.6" x 7.6" x 1.3" [remarkably close to the Mac mini's 7.7" x 7.7" x 1.4" - ed], the matte black finish Chromebox with silver accents is small enough to put on a desk, a bookshelf, or next to the couch, and it's also easy to transport between the home and office if needed.
Samsung says the Series 5 Chromebook boots up in as little as seven seconds, enabling users to dive into work or play nearly instantly and, unlike traditional computers, it doesn't slow down over time. A 1.3 GHz Intel Celeron 867 Dual Core with a 16 GB SSD and 4 GB of RAM provide the computing power, and an optional built-in 3G wireless from Verizon Wireless allows connectivity just about anywhere 3G is supported. With the 3G option, Verizon will also provide up to 100 MB per month of Mobile Broadband service included with the device for two years.
Like the Chromebook, the Samsung Series 3 Chromebox features a 16 GB SSD and 4 GB of RAM, as well as an Intel Celeron B840 Dual Core (1.9 GHz) processor. Built-in 2x2 WLAN WiFi enables wireless connectivity throughout the home or office, and the Series 3 Chromebox supports monitors up to 30" in size, a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and HDTV via the Display Port output. Users can also connect up to six USB devices to upload photos or save files.
Simple, Secure, and Improving User Experience
Google says it developed the Chrome OS operating system with three key factors in mind: speed, simplicity, and security, and that it has improved on these factors since the launch of the first Chromebook in 2011. With the Chrome operating system, you can get online in seconds, load web pages speedily and access your favorite apps in one click through the app launcher.
Automatic updates mean that Chromebook and Chromebox users always enjoy the latest functionality without any hassle. Security features are also built-in and updated to defend against the ongoing threat of malware and viruses, reducing the need for users to install antivirus software.
Built-in cloud storage enables both Chromebook and Chromebox users to access their files securely from anywhere they can access Internet service, and sync technology backs up all of your preferences, bookmarks and apps, so you can access them from a Chrome browser on another device. Both new Samsung products also come equipped for Google Cloud Print for web printing to any Samsung Google Cloud Print ready laser printer.
The Samsung Series 5 Chromebook and the Samsung Series 3 Chromebox will be available beginning May 30th. The Series 5 Chromebook WiFi model will retail at $449.99 while the 3G model will retail at $549.99. The Series 3 Chromebox WiFi model will retail at $329.99. The Chromebook and Chromebox are only available at Amazon.com, Tiger.com, NewEgg.com, BestBuy.com, and BHPhoto.com.
Hardmac's Lionel reports that by next September, Toshiba should launch a hybrid hard drive, similar to Seagate's Momentus XT. Hybrid drives use a small flash memory module to boost boot and transfer speed, especially for small files, while offering a better cost/capacity ratio and a larger storage space then most SSDs.
Lionel says the new Toshiba hybrid hard drive will fit well in thin and light laptops like Ultrabooks, as it will be cheaper than SSDs, and since Toshiba is able to manufacture its own SSD and Flash memory, it should have an advantage over Seagate in that context.
PR: IHS iSuppli's Fang Zhang reports that maximum areal densities in hard disk drives (HDD) are expected to more than double during the five-year period from 2011 to 2016, spurring continued growth for hard drives in storage-intensive applications such as video and audio systems, according to an IHS iSuppli Storage Space Market Brief report from information and analytics provider IHS.
Hard drives areal densities measuring data-storage capacities are projected to climb to a maximum 1,800 Gigabits (Gb) per square inch per platter by 2016, up from 744 Gb per square inch in 2011, as shown in the figure below. This means that from 2011 to 2016, the five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for HDD areal densities will be equivalent to 19%. For this year, HDD areal densities are estimated to reach 780 Gb per square inch per platter, and then rise to 900 Gb per square inch next year.
"The rise in areal density will pave the way for continued growth of the HDD industry," says Fang Zhang, analyst for storage systems at IHS. "Densities will double during the next five years, despite technical difficulties associated with the perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology now used to create higher-areal-density hard disks. In particular, growth opportunities will lie in applications associated with mass enterprise storage requirements, gaming, and in digital video recorders (DVRs) where massive capacity is required to store high-definition video."
Density on the Rise
Areal density is the amount of data that can be physically stored in a given amount of space on a platter inside a hard drive. Higher areal densities mean that data can be packed more tightly onto the surface of a disk, resulting in overall greater storage capacity. Areal density equals bit density, or bits of information per inch of a track (BPI), multiplied by tracks per inch (TPI) on a platter.
This measure of density is distinct from actual hard drive capacity, because hard drives commonly use multiple platters.
HDD areal density topped the 4 TB mark for the first time in September 2011 with the introduction of an external hard drive from Seagate Technology that was designed for desktop applications. The Seagate drive had five platters, each with an areal density of 625 Gb per square inch, equivalent to more than 1 TB per platter.
Only a year earlier in 2010, the highest areal density that could be achieved for a platter amounted to 550 Gb per square inch. While no forecast is yet available for the newly minted 4 TB hard drive segment of the storage industry, the current 4 TB products on the market will surely prove welcome for users hoping to accommodate copious and ever-increasing amounts of data, including storage-intensive formats like gaming, music, and videos.
A tale of the Tape: Storage Capacity Explodes as HDDs Increase Areal Densities
A comparison of higher-areal-density hard drives provides a clear picture of exponentially greater storage capacity.
For instance, 1 TB of storage can hold approximately 350,000 MP3 songs at an estimated 2.85 megabytes per song, or up to 1 million photos at an estimated 1 megabyte per 2.4 megapixel JPEG-format photo, or up to 76 hours of uncompressed digital video at a data rate of 13 gigabytes per hour. With a 4 TB hard drive, that capacity quadruples to roughly 1 million songs, or 1,000 hours of high-definition video, or 4,000 hours of standard video, or 1,400 movies.
Just five years ago, storage capacity per platter was at a maximum of 180 gigabits per square inch. Platters crossed the terabyte level for the first time in 2007, with hard disk drives comprising two or more platters becoming more common as HDD storage capacities increased. Now with the 1 TB per-platter milestone already reached, 5 TB hard disk drives using five platters could be available on the market later this year.
Following Seagate's 4 TB external hard disk drive product for the desktop HDD consumer market, a 4 TB enterprise HDD suitable for business applications was released in April by Hitachi GST; Hitachi GST has since been acquired by Seagate archrival Western Digital Corp.
Hard drives with more than 1 TB in density per platter have also been released by the industry for the mobile market, with Toshiba's 2.5" 1 TB version boasting the highest areal density for drives targeting the portable PC and consumer electronics space.
New Developments on the Horizon
All hard drive manufacturers currently use PMR technology for existing products, but the industry consensus is that existing PMR technology has two to three generations left before reaching its areal density limit at about 1 terabit (Tb) per square inch. In fact, despite the solid five-year CAGR for higher-density drives, growth rates could have been much higher were it not for PMR technology nearing its limit.
Nonetheless, new developments are on the way. For instance, Seagate in March announced it had achieved in its research lab 1 Tb per square inch of areal density - 30% higher than what could be achieved through PMR technology - by using heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology, a promising approach to enable large increases in the storage density of hard disk drives.
HAMR technology is likely to lead the way in creating next-generation HDDs, even though satisfactory costs via HAMR comparable to those of PMR have yet to be seen. In theory, however, advanced technologies like HAMR could extend HDD areal density to a range spanning 5 to 10 Tb per square inch.
The highest capacity for 3.5" HDDs could then reach 30 to 60 TB, while the smaller and thinner 2.5" HDDs used in increasingly popular thinner notebooks could reach 10 to 20 TB.
Such lofty heights represent approximately 10 to 20 times the capacity of current drives, with the new theoretical levels having a capacity equivalent to those of conventional small and medium business (SMB) storage systems currently on the market, marking a major leap in electronic storage for more common, non-enterprise uses.
The Register's Tony Smith says another sure sign the netbook's day is done is that Toshiba's US wing has confirmed it will no longer offer new versions of the diminutive laptop machines. Smit says Toshiba US will be promoting Ultrabooks instead, according to a report.
DigiTimes' Rebecca Kuo and Steve Shen report that PC-maker Asustek Computer (a.k.a. Asus) will launch three new models to its ZenBook Prime Ultrabook lineup - the UX21A, UX31A, and UX32VD - in June, featuring full HD IPS panels from Chimei Innolux, reputed to be almost twice as expensive as comparable LED slim HD panels, and with a target of shipping 100,000 units initially, according to industry sources.
The new Ultrabooks' wide viewing angle IPS panels, will reportedly be available in 11.6" or 13.3" sizes with a display resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, and priced beginning at $1,000. Interestingly, that display resolution almost satisfies or slightly exceeds one calculated criterion for "Retina" status.
The UX32VD is to be Intel Ivy Bridge powered and to feature a hybrid hard drive system with a 24 GB SSD boot volume and 500 GB SATA hard drive storage capacity, as well as a discrete Nvidia GeForce GT620M graphics card.
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