Stay Tuned: New MacBook Air MAY Use OWC Aura SSD

As part of its big day of releases yesterday, Apple refreshed the MacBook Air line. For the most part, it’s what was expected from this update: a faster processor and a Thunderbolt port, the latest OS, and a backlit keyboard.

The DRAM memory is soldered to the main logic board, just like in the previous 2010 model. But what’s proving to be like the Beatles album cover hypothesis that Paul was dead, there are varying theories on if the flash storage (SSD) is soldered onto that main board or is a removable module as what is found on the 2010 model.  As one can imagine, we’ve been getting asked by users and the media alike if our Mercury Aura Pro Express, the only SSD on the market for the 2010 MBA, will work in the new 2011 model.

Here’s some clues for you all that will perhaps shed some light on this until we get our machines in here and open them up.

Clue #1: Apple’s marketing text regarding flash storage on the new 2011 model

While I can’t repeat word for word (dang copyright concerns!), the gist is that they are placing chips directly on a logic board. Compare that to…

Clue #2: A video of the 2010 MBA introduction

Listen closely to this video at about 2:57 in where Bob Mansfield, Sr. VP Hardware, uses the same wording to describe how they treat flash storage. By using the same wording here and in Clue #1, it is only reasonable to deduce that the flash storage is very likely removable in the new 2011 model as it is in the 2010 model.

Clue #3: Economic common sense

Really, after introducing an all new, tapered Unibody design last year…does it make any sense from a manufacturing cost standpoint to redesign how the flash storage module attaches to the logic board? I just can’t fathom Apple doing such just to turn this new model into an even more closed, non-serviceable/upgradeable version. It’s doesn’t make economic sense unless Apple is truly now committed to disposable machines. And this doesn’t even begin to explore servicing costs and time-turnarounds for Apple.

Saving the best for last…Clue #4: Same factory part number

A new 2011 MBA owner took a screen shot of his System Profiler and it shows the SATA storage device installed to be a Toshiba TS128C….which is EXACTLY the same part number used for the 128GB flash module installed in 2010 MBA’s.

Click for larger version

Two Outcomes…Right Or Wrong

If I’m right about this, and the clues certainly make it appear so, then once again, OWC offers an upgrade path that offers up to four times more capacity (480GB) than the size of the typical choice stock drive (128GB) from the factory in the new machines.

If I’m wrong…and the flash storage is truly soldered in, there are two possible options. One, get your hands on a Refurbished 2010 model instead and drop an OWC Aura Pro Express in there for the capacity you truly need and want. Two, we always could (note that “could” term there!) offer a Turnkey Program where you would send your 2011 MBA to us and we’d send it back with higher capacity and likely faster flash storage.

In any event, Stay Tuned as we’ll let you know the final outcome the moment we get the machines!