prod merc aura pro express6gOther World Computing, which offers many customization and upgrade options for Macs, today released an SSD upgrade for 2011 MacBook Airs that takes advantage of the MBA's SATA Revision 3.0 abilities and offers 6 Gigabits of potential throughput.

The factory SSD from Apple only supports SATA Revision 2.0, which maxes out at 3 Gbps, half the speed of Revision 3.0.

The new OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G SSDs combine award-winning SandForce technologies and Tier 1/Grade A Toggle Synchronous NAND to deliver data rates that are more than 3x faster and capacities that are up to 4x greater than factory available SSD options. Currently available in two sizes–120GB and 240GB–the new 6Gb/s SATA 3.0 Revision models continue OWC’s position as the only alternative to factory SSD options for the 2010-2011 MacBook Air.

The upgrades don't come cheap, however. The 120GB version is $349.99 and the 240GB version is $599.99.

The MacBook Air comes standard with 64GB, 128GB or 256GB of storage.

Top Rated Comments

Heavertron Avatar
125 months ago
How ironic that your own comment is "ill informed." From the OWC Blog itself...

"Wear Leveling technologies are able to eliminate virtually any reduction in data transfer speeds over heavy, long-term usage without dependency on less-than-effective OS TRIM management."

Read it yourself here:
http://blog.macsales.com/11900-owc-announces-mercury-aura-pro-express-6g-industrys-first-6gbs-solid-state-drives-for-2011-apple-macbook-air

Huh? I think you misunderstand my post. The blog says:

"Utilizing SandForce DuraClass technology".

Therefore my statement was correct. These drives use the SandForce controller, so have their own 'housekeeping' mechanisms, so TRIM is not required to maintain performance.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ShortArc Avatar
125 months ago
What worries me about these SSD 6G drives is the power consumption spec.
Active 3W & Idle 1.2W. This I believe compares to less than .5W for idle for the stock SSD. In other words, these SSDs will drain your battery pretty quick!
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ShortArc Avatar
125 months ago
I hate to break up the SandForce love train, but these claims are simply not true. While wear-leveing is important in the long run, in the short run it is not what causes SSD's to slow down, and claiming that the SandForce controller's garbage collection is on par with TRIM is simply wrong.

An SSD cannot overwrite a block with data, and therefore needs to empty it before new data can be written to the block. Because of how SSD's can write to the smaller pages but can only erase blocks, the "overwrite" process involves copying all relevant pages from an old block to a new block and then filling out the rest of the blank pages in a block. This is a slow process, and is best done during idle, instead of on-demand during a write, so the industry needed to come up with a solution to this and the answer was TRIM.

This whole problem arises because of the way traditional magnetic media worked: it had no overwrite penalty, so when something was deleted, the only thing that happened was that it's entry was removed from the directory (a pointer to its actual location) while the actual bits of data were left untouched sitting in whichever block they were residing in. Again, with no overwrite penalty for magnetic media, this worked great because you could just overwrite the block when the time came and nobody was the wiser. Since this isn't true for SSD's, TRIM came along to manually clear out blank pages/blocks and consolidate what was left for faster performance. The HUGE benefit of TRIM is that OS knows which allocated pages/blocks are still being used and which can be discarded, since it is in control of file management and knows what's been deleted and what hasn't been.

SandForce and it's ilk arose because both Apple and Microsoft were a little slow implementing TRIM support in their OS's and people wanted to use SSD's in their computers as soon as they were available without waiting for Lion or Windows 7, so HD-based "garbage collection" arose as a stopgap. The problem with it is that the HD can't know which allocated blocks are still in use and which aren't, so it only does it's best to consolidate all active pages and hope for the best. You'll notice the decreased long-term optimization of SandForce when you are running a mostly full drive, because it won't have as much space to get lucky with. This is why SandForce drives come with "scratch" areas pre-cordoned off (i.e. reported capacity of 240GB despite having 256GB), because it uses that extra area for write operations and then performs a deletes what is has now learned is an inactive page/block.

SandForce puts a lot of marketing into their controller, and it is pretty fast, partly because it does a lot of compression of your data when it can (which worries me a little bit anyway when using it with a non-integrity checking file system like HFS+). But nearly full drives that are TRIM-compatible are going to stay quicker throughout the life of the drive, while others will not simply because they can't know as much about what they are trying to organize as an OS-based routine like TRIM will.

And you don't necessarily want to pay for space on your drive which you can't use: this means you're losing about 7% capacity on top of the 7% you need to leave free for the OS's maintenance routines (like on-the-fly defragging, which is also part of at least Apple's TRIM implementation, so it's actually more efficient to do both at the same time anyway). With TRIM enabled, you can reuse the scratch space for both tasks, since the OS can see both, but not with SandForce.



This is mostly a marketing claim, because Sandforce is quicker at doing the easy garbage collection that it is capable of, while it's a longer route with more components involved for the OS to get the easy consolidation commands out of the way. Thus, more efficiency means slightly faster operations with only one component involved. Conversely, the SandForce controller is incapable of doing all the things that TRIM does, but I guess you could argue that doing less is also more efficient in the short-run.


Also, there are those failure rates. If you look up the Vertex 2 reviews on any site, you'll see nothing but complaints about their failure rates, enough so that OCZ listed increased reliability as a feature of the Vertex 3 (which uses a newer generation of the SandForce controller). Is your data something you want to trust to marketing promises, especially when combined with all the aforementioned data compression going on?

aristokrat:

Thanks for your great post.
Over the last year or so I pretty much read everything you mention (in various articles, online tests, blogs, etc). Nice to see it summarized.
My only non-technical comment would be, that regardless of the "shortcomings" the SandForce controller may have, if you want a 6G SSD in you 2011 MBA now, there is no other choice!?
Also unless someone has a convincing technical arguments, I would agree that TRIM is the way to go....
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
aristokrat Avatar
125 months ago
These drives use the SandForce controller, so have their own 'housekeeping' mechanisms, so TRIM is not required to maintain performance.
I hate to break up the SandForce love train, but these claims are simply not true. While wear-leveing is important in the long run, in the short run it is not what causes SSD's to slow down, and claiming that the SandForce controller's garbage collection is on par with TRIM is simply wrong.

An SSD cannot overwrite a block with data, and therefore needs to empty it before new data can be written to the block. Because of how SSD's can write to the smaller pages but can only erase blocks, the "overwrite" process involves copying all relevant pages from an old block to a new block and then filling out the rest of the blank pages in a block. This is a slow process, and is best done during idle, instead of on-demand during a write, so the industry needed to come up with a solution to this and the answer was TRIM.

This whole problem arises because of the way traditional magnetic media worked: it had no overwrite penalty, so when something was deleted, the only thing that happened was that it's entry was removed from the directory (a pointer to its actual location) while the actual bits of data were left untouched sitting in whichever block they were residing in. Again, with no overwrite penalty for magnetic media, this worked great because you could just overwrite the block when the time came and nobody was the wiser. Since this isn't true for SSD's, TRIM came along to manually clear out blank pages/blocks and consolidate what was left for faster performance. The HUGE benefit of TRIM is that OS knows which allocated pages/blocks are still being used and which can be discarded, since it is in control of file management and knows what's been deleted and what hasn't been.

SandForce and it's ilk arose because both Apple and Microsoft were a little slow implementing TRIM support in their OS's and people wanted to use SSD's in their computers as soon as they were available without waiting for Lion or Windows 7, so HD-based "garbage collection" arose as a stopgap. The problem with it is that the HD can't know which allocated blocks are still in use and which aren't, so it only does it's best to consolidate all active pages and hope for the best. You'll notice the decreased long-term optimization of SandForce when you are running a mostly full drive, because it won't have as much space to get lucky with. This is why SandForce drives come with "scratch" areas pre-cordoned off (i.e. reported capacity of 240GB despite having 256GB), because it uses that extra area for write operations and then performs a deletes what is has now learned is an inactive page/block.

SandForce puts a lot of marketing into their controller, and it is pretty fast, partly because it does a lot of compression of your data when it can (which worries me a little bit anyway when using it with a non-integrity checking file system like HFS+). But nearly full drives that are TRIM-compatible are going to stay quicker throughout the life of the drive, while others will not simply because they can't know as much about what they are trying to organize as an OS-based routine like TRIM will.

And you don't necessarily want to pay for space on your drive which you can't use: this means you're losing about 7% capacity on top of the 7% you need to leave free for the OS's maintenance routines (like on-the-fly defragging, which is also part of at least Apple's TRIM implementation, so it's actually more efficient to do both at the same time anyway). With TRIM enabled, you can reuse the scratch space for both tasks, since the OS can see both, but not with SandForce.

The question at this stage is, just how much more efficient is the clean-up algorithms of the SandForce chip versus OS-based TRIM?
This is mostly a marketing claim, because Sandforce is quicker at doing the easy garbage collection that it is capable of, while it's a longer route with more components involved for the OS to get the easy consolidation commands out of the way. Thus, more efficiency means slightly faster operations with only one component involved. Conversely, the SandForce controller is incapable of doing all the things that TRIM does, but I guess you could argue that doing less is also more efficient in the short-run.


Also, there are those failure rates. If you look up the Vertex 2 reviews on any site, you'll see nothing but complaints about their failure rates, enough so that OCZ listed increased reliability as a feature of the Vertex 3 (which uses a newer generation of the SandForce controller). Is your data something you want to trust to marketing promises, especially when combined with all the aforementioned data compression going on?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cluthz Avatar
125 months ago
It's good that there is an aftermarket alternative to the Apple SSD,
but am I the only one that feel the standard SSD is the only thing in the MBA that isn't a bottle neck?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FloatingBones Avatar
125 months ago
What worries me about these SSD 6G drives is the power consumption spec. Active 3W & Idle 1.2W. This I believe compares to less than .5W for idle for the stock SSD. In other words, these SSDs will drain your battery pretty quick!

I asked OWC to comment on the impact their high-performance SSD would have on battery life. Look on their blog for a response -- hopefully tomorrow.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

samsung experience 1

Samsung's 'iTest' Lets You Try a Galaxy Device on Your iPhone

Thursday April 8, 2021 12:42 pm PDT by
Samsung has launched "iTest," an interactive website experience that's designed to allow iPhone users to test out Android on a Galaxy device, or "sample the other side," as Samsung puts it. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The iTest website is being advertised in New Zealand, according to a MacRumors reader who came across the feature. Visiting the iTest website on...
pixel watch prosser leak

Google Pixel Watch Allegedly Leaks with Circular Design, Rumored to Launch in October

Monday April 12, 2021 2:49 am PDT by
Renders of Google's first smartwatch, codenamed "Rohan," have been shared by Jon Prosser, showing that Google plans to adopt a circular design for its flagship wearable watch. Prosser shared the renders in an episode of his YouTube show "Front Page Tech," in which he claims they were made based on marketing material he had seen from a source within Google. The renders show that the Pixel...
AppleTV and HomePod Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on New Apple TV With Integrated HomePod Speaker and FaceTime Camera

Monday April 12, 2021 3:32 am PDT by
Apple is working on a combined Apple TV with HomePod speaker that has a camera for video calls through a connected television set, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. From the report: The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions,...
nba tracking prompt orange

Two-Thirds of iPhone Users Expected to Block Ad Tracking

Friday April 9, 2021 7:19 am PDT by
As many as 68 percent of iPhone users are expected to deny advertisers permission to track them thanks to Apple's App Tracking Transparency feature, in what is beginning to look like a significant blow to the advertising industry (via AdWeek). With the launch of iOS 14.5, apps will have to receive explicit user permission before accessing an iPhone's advertising identifier or IDFA, which is...
fake airpods 3

Counterfeit 'AirPods 3' Hit the Market Prior to Official Announcement

Friday April 9, 2021 2:45 am PDT by
Apple is expected to launch the third iteration of AirPods in the third quarter of this year. Rumors and reports suggest the new AirPods will feature an updated design more in line with the AirPods Pro, but lacking in "Pro" features such as active noise cancellation. Despite AirPods 3 not yet being officially announced by Apple, counterfeit products of the unreleased earbuds have already hit ...
Top Stories 56 Feature

Top Stories: 'Find My' Expansion, iPhone 13 Pro Mockup, Largest-Ever iMac?

Saturday April 10, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
Apple's AirTags may still be nowhere to be seen nearly two years after signs of them were first discovered, but Apple this week launched its Find My network accessory program that will let third-party devices integrate with the Find My app on Apple's platforms to make it easy to keep track of your items. This week also saw fresh rumors about the upcoming "iPhone 13" and new iMacs, while...
ehric

iPhone 12 Mini Missing From Top 5 Best Selling Smartphone List of January 2021

Friday April 9, 2021 4:58 am PDT by
According to market data compiled by Counterpoint Research, Apple's smallest iPhone since the 2016 iPhone SE, the iPhone 12 mini, struggled to obtain a spot in the top five list of best-selling smartphones in January of this year. According to the market data, the iPhone 12 mini came in eighth place for the best-selling smartphone worldwide in the first month of the year. However, the iPhone ...
sonny 2021 ipad mini pro dummies

Leaked Dummy Units Show iPad Mini 6 With Thick Bezels and Home Button, New iPad Pro Models

Thursday April 8, 2021 2:11 am PDT by
Rumors suggest Apple will release refreshed versions of the iPad mini and iPad Pro models in the first half of this year, potentially as soon as this month, and a new leak today has provided us with a possible preview of what to expect in terms of the devices' overall design and camera prospects. Tech leaker and Apple blogger Sonny Dickson this morning shared images on Twitter showing dummy ...
Google maps feaure green

Google Maps App for iOS Finally Updated After Four Months

Monday April 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Following the completed rollout of App Privacy labels for its App Store apps, Google today updated the Google Maps app for the first time in four months. Apple in December began requiring all new app submissions and app updates to include App Privacy labels, detailing the data that is collected by the app so consumers know what they're sharing. Google didn't begin implementing App Privacy ...
epic iap feature 3

Tim Cook Says App Store Would Become a 'Flea Market' if Third-Party Payment Systems Were Allowed

Monday April 12, 2021 9:41 am PDT by
In a recent interview with the Toronto Star, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about a wide variety of topics, ranging from App Tracking Transparency to Apple's ongoing legal battle over App Store policies with Fortnite creator Epic Games. Notably, Cook said that Epic Games' desire for Apple to let developers offer their own payment systems in apps "would make the App Store a flea market":At the...