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Apple to Introduce 11.6-Inch MacBook Air With 'SSD Card' Integrated Storage Next Week? [Updated]


Mockup of current (left) and forthcoming (right) MacBook Air

AppleInsider reports that Apple is preparing to release a new MacBook Air at its "Back to the Mac" media event next Wednesday. The report agrees with reports dating back several months claiming that the new MacBook Air will offer an 11.6-inch display, down from the 13.3-inch display found in the current model. The report seems to agree with an earlier claim that such a model is already in manufacturing, suggesting that availability could come soon after next week's introduction.

Interestingly, the report indicates that Apple appears set to forgo traditional hard drive and even conventional solid state drive technology for storage on the new MacBook Air, instead opting to employ what appears to be proprietary "SSD Card" storage that would be embedded directly in the device rather than conforming to standard drive bay sizes used by other drives.

According to this person, the new models will do away with existing options for a conventional hard-disk drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD) in favor something described as an "SSD Card" that lacks a traditional drive enclosure and more closely resembles a stick of RAM, yet is not easily user-replaceable.

If accurate, AppleInsider believes the component may be a proprietary SSD drive alternative designed by Apple to be integrated in Macs in a similar manner to the way flash memory is embedded in iPods, iPhones and iPads. This approach would be less expensive than a standard package intended to fit the shape of conventional HD devices, allowing the company to drive down costs and pass the savings on to the consumer.

The report notes that offering a flash-only MacBook Air could allow Apple to offer significantly faster boot and wake times, and that the proprietary design for the flash storage could allow Apple to save space inside the slim computer's body and produce the storage at lower cost.

Sources indicate that the new MacBook Air will appear very much as a scaled-down version of the current model, although at least one source claimed that the new version might offer a slightly less curved and more wedge-shaped design.

Update: CNET is offering its own hints at what we might be able to expect, citing a price "significantly lower" than the current $1499 entry-level price point. CNET's source indicates that the new MacBook Air may continue to use an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and offer extended battery life compared to the current model.

Related roundup: MacBook Air