I met with SanDisk earlier today and to my surprise they had an ASUS UX Ultrabook in their meeting room. It turns out that at least one model in the UX Series will use SanDisk's brand new U100 SSD. 

The U100 is SanDisk's first 6Gbps drive based on SanDisk's own controller. SanDisk's architecture is a little different than what we're used to. They claim to be doing some SandForce-like data reduction but they wouldn't give me any details on what they're actually doing. The controller doesn't have any DRAM to augment it, which lends credibility to some SF-like technology at work here.  SanDisk wrote us to clarify that its U100 drive doesn't require any DRAM, which is the only similarity to SandForce that exists. There is no real-time compression or data deduplication enabled on the drive.

SanDisk also uses a hybrid SLC/MLC setup where a small percentage of each MLC NAND die is actually configured as SLC NAND to act as a read/write cache in front of the rest of the die. This results in better random write performance and reliability.
The U100 in ASUS' UX Series notebook is a mSATA drive in a MacBook Air-like thin gumstick form factor. SanDisk is promising idle power usage of only 10mW, although peak load is 4W.
Maximum sequential read speed is listed at 450MB/s, with 340MB/s writes. Random performance isn't that good, SanDisk quotes a burst speed of only 2300 IOPS. That's still a lot better than a hard drive but definitely not as good as what we're used to from high end SSDs. Keep in mind that the UX Series is more like a MacBook Air than a traditional notebook, and these are much better performance specs than what Apple currently ships in the MBA.
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  • Jarp Habib - Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - link

    That is a rather fantastic looking machine, love the radial brushed metal finish.
  • ImSpartacus - Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - link

    This is a gorgeous machine, but how much battery life do you guys think we'll get?

    It doesn't look like there's a lot of room for a battery in there. I think I would prefer a bulkier machine that lasts a little longer on a charge.
  • A5 - Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - link

    I'm guessing it's packed around the motherboard like in the MBA. You can't really hit these form factors with removable batteries.

    Intel's target for the platform is 10+ hours of battery life, but I'm not sure these SB based models will hit that.
  • MeesterNid - Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - link

    Looks like MacBook Air. It just stinks that OEMs other than Apple seem to never innovate their designs, but instead just rip off those that are already successful.
  • PubFiction - Wednesday, June 1, 2011 - link

    How else woudl you make a thin form factor notebook. Everyone thinks everything is an apple clone. They made lots of thin notebooks before the air and they got thinner almost every year. There is only so much you can do with thin. Apples come in 3 colors does that make them PC clones? The tapered design in the front is the oldest trick in notebook design to make it look thinner. They were doint that long before the mac book air.

    Same with tablets gee its a small flat device how exactly many different ways could you make such a device? Does apple have a patent on the silver color? I remember when everyone made business laptops that looked like apples, those laptops where when apple was making the fruity ass shit no one would buy. No one copied them, Now apple makes theirs like all the other plain business laptops and everyone says the PC manufacturers are ripping apple? I am pretty sure it was the other way around. Apple realized the screwed up with that fruity junk and switched to a very plain design mirroring business laptops. After that people were no longer embarrased to cart their laptops around. Notice how ever since then apple has only ever done anything in 3 colors, black white or silver?
  • MeesterNid - Wednesday, June 1, 2011 - link

    rofl, here we go. First, look at the track pad...it's very large compared to most PC laptop ones. Nobody made them that big until Apple started making them that size. Of course you can go on and on about how it just makes sense to make it this way and that and that there is only one design choice, but the bottom line is that nobody had made them looking that way and in that form factor until Apple made them and they sold like crazy.
  • iwod - Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - link

    Just what the hell were they thinking? Even a JMicro SSD controller is better then this.
  • Stuka87 - Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - link

    Not digging the whole "look how shiny I am!" look.

    And it is obviously a MB Air clone, but it will be interesting how close its performance/battery life specs are.

    I think those numbers from the SSD are fine for this class of machine. I think the bigger question is how reliable will this controller be? Every other SSD controller maker has made some misteps in their first gen products, will this one run into similar issues?
  • warisz00r - Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - link

    Since you've seen the notebook in person (and possibly up close), what can yu make of the screen quality?
  • AmdInside - Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - link

    Ditto. One of the major reasons why I can't stand netbooks is the horrible screens they usually come with. I love the screen on the MBA and wish it were available for my Macbook Pro 13 when I purchased it.

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