Apple’s 12-inch Retina MacBook, which is already considered to be a technical innovation in itself, appears to have another trick up its sleeve in the form of a new in-house SSD controller. Speculation points towards the in-house SSD controller likely being born of the company’s 2011 acquisition of the Israeli form Anobit.

The revised chip bears part number 338S00055 and although it doesn’t sport the Apple logo as most of the company’s silicon pieces do, the semiconductor analysis firm, ChipWorks, confirmed to iFixit that the chip is “definitely an Apple custom device.” The Taiwanese chipmaker, TSMC, is said to be the manufacturer responsible for fabricating the piece.

In the new chip, it appears that a move to an in-house SSD controller was made as opposed to using the off-the-shelf parts from longtime suppliers, Toshiba and Samsung. It is a logical next step for Apple as it looks to become more vertically integrated. The writing has been on the wall since Apple paid nearly $400 million for Anobit, whose MSP technology both improves speed and reliability in NAND flash by predicting and reducing write errors.

Apple’s new controller has also enabled the company to shift its SSD interface from the venerable AHCI protocol to NVMExpress, a replacement protocol specifically optimized for PCIe SSDs that has yet to be widely adopted in consumer devices. NVME brings with it a number of performance improvements which also lead to power efficiency gains as drives spend more time in low-power idle modes.

Despite the move being a troubling development for both Samsung and Toshiba, it might also help create a larger shift toward fully-integrated NAND architectures. As of right now, flash storage is arguably the second most important component in Apple’s supply chain, trailing only the A-series processors used in iOS devices. The move as a whole would be a huge blow for Samsung, SK, Toshiba, Hynix and SanDisk, all of which currently supply the bulk of Apple’s NAND in orders that are worth billions of dollars per year.

We’ll have to see what moves Apple makes next and how supply chain members react.

Source: iFixit via ApppleInsider