SHOOTOUT: Is Flash Storage in Apple's Newest Laptops 2X Faster?
Originally posted March 13th, 2015 by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
March 26th, 2015, clarification of the Apple SM951's proprietary nature.
The Samsung SM951 is the newest, fastest PCIe flash blade. Apple is using a proprietary version in the 'mid 2015' MacBook Pro Retina 15" and 'early 2015' MacBook Pro Retina 13". Is it 'twice' as fast as the previous generations of Apple laptops?
M2015 rMBP 15" = 'mid 2015' Retina MacBook Pro 15" (1024G flash)
M2014 rMBP 15" = 'mid 2014' Retina MacBook Pro 15" (1024G flash)
L2013 rMBP 15" = 'late 2013' Retina MacBook Pro 15" (512G flash)
E2015 rMBP 13" = 'early 2015' Retina MacBook Pro 13" (512G flash)
M2014 rMBP 13" = 'mid 2014' Retina MacBook Pro 13" (512G flash)
L2013 rMBP 13" = 'late 2013' Retina MacBook Pro 13" (256G flash)
RED graph bar means the fastest overall in Megabytes per Second.
LARGE SEQUENTIAL TRANSFER TEST
We used AJA System Test to test file level sequential transfer speed using a 16GB test document.
SMALL RANDOM TRANSFER TEST
We used a range of 4K to 1024K blocks in the Standard Random test in QuickBench as a predictor boot volume 'house keeping' performance and a simulation of an application that does multiple small random transfers.
Apple has really upped their flash storage game with the newest Apple laptops! In fact, the 2015 MacBook Pros have faster flash storage than the iMac 5K and Mac Pro 'turbo tube'!
The flash blade used in the 2015 MacBook Pros is a proprietary version of the Samsung SM951 with a proprietary connector. But that doesn't tell the whole story. You also have to look at link width and link speed. According to System Profiler, the 'mid 2015' MacBook Pro Retina 15" SSD Controller's Link Width is x4 and the Link Speed is 8.0GT/s. Compare that, for example, with the iMac 5K whose Link Width is x2 and Link Speed is 5.0GT/s.
UPDATE: OS X El Capitan's 'trimforce' command enables TRIM support on non-Apple flash storage. However, if you are using the Apple proprietary flash blades, TRIM support is the default.
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