Micron to become number 2 memory maker in the world
US-based Micron Technology has entered into an agreement to acquire bankrupt Japanese DRAM maker Elpida for $2.5 billion, according to Digitimes. Elpida is remains a key component supplier for Apple's new iPad and iPhone 4S, and will propel Micron to the number 2 position in memory chip fabrication behind only Samsung with a 24 percent share of the global market. Like a number of its Japanese compatriots, Elpida had struggled to cope with the challenge posed by the Korean tech giant and filed for bankruptcy protection in February after it could not pay back $1.89 billion in debt due in April.
Microsoft takes interest in 3D memory chip technology
Microsoft has joined the Hybrid Memory Cube Consortium. Fronted by Micron, Samsung, and IBM, the HMCC aims to create more efficient memory for high-performance computing and other similar applications, using increased bandwidth compared to what current memory architectures can provide.
Capacities range from 32GB to 256GB
Micron has announced that it has expanded its SSD lineup to include mSATA models geared for ultrathin notebooks. The new drives are based on the company's existing RealSSD C400 drives, but with a Mini SATA connector and stripped away housing for notebooks that require a 3cm x 5cm footprint.
Intel offloads plants, Micron to supply Intel NAND
Intel and Micron have enhanced their flash-memory chip joint venture. Intel has agreed to sell to Micron its holdings in two memory wafer production facilities for $600 million. In return, Micron will become Intel's supplier of NAND memory chips.
Elpida files for bankruptcy protection in Japan
Despite recent efforts to team with Toshiba or partner with Micron, Japanese computer chipmaker has filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday, The Register reported. The DRAM maker has debts that add up to 448 million yen ($5.6 million). In a statement, the company revealed its actions were made necessary by the falling prices of DRAM products due to competition and record yen values against the US dollar.
NVIDIA and Rambus sign five-year pact
Rambus on Wednesday struck a deal with NVIDIA to license its patents. The deal extends for five years and is in return for ending Rambus' lawsuit as well as any other legal action. Other details were secret, Rambus said.
Micron extends COO's stay after CEO
Micron has picked its COO Mark Durcan as its temporary CEO in the wake of its CEO Steve Appleton's death in an airplane crash on Friday. Durcan had intended to retire in August but agreed to stay on as CEO until a permanent replacement could arrive. The memory designer hasn't given a clear indication of any short-listed candidates.
Micron CEO Appleton dies in plane crash at 51
The Chairman and CEO of semiconductor maker Micron, Steve Appleton, died in a small plane crash in Boise on Friday morning. Details of the crash weren't immediately known. He leaves behind wife Dalynn and children. Appleton joined Micron in February, 1983, becoming an officer in August of 1989.
Companies threatened by Korean competitors
Chip makers Elpida Memory and Micron Technology are reportedly set to join forces in the memory market. The companies are said to be attempting to combine their production capabilities, which would give the partnership approximately 20 percent market share for DRAM components.
Hynix and Micron worried Anobit no longer a choice
Hynix and Micron are purportedly looking to alternatives for flash memory controllers in the wake of Apple's purchase of Anobit. The two are believed by Digitimes to be talking to Phison, Silicon Motion Technology, and Skymedi for alternatives to the longevity- and speed-boosting chips Anobit has been supplying. The two are thought by tipsters to be worried that Apple will either wield all the bargaining power or make Anobit an exclusive.
Intel and Micron demo 128Gb, ship 64Gb flash
and Micron on Tuesday say they had made the first 128-gigabit (16GB) NAND flash chip. The 20-nanometer part is twice as dense as before even as it keeps up a quick 333 megatransfers per second. With the option of stacking as many as eight chips on top of each other, it may be the first design to hit one terabit (128GB) of space in a single chip smaller than a fingertip.
IBM, Micron team up on 3D memory chips
IBM and Micron will collaborate on the production of the first memory chip to use CMOS manufacturing technology with through-silicon vias (TSVs). These are vertical conduits that electrically connect a stack of individual chips. This IBM process will let Micron's Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) run 15 times faster than current, conventional memory chips. The chip's parts will be made on 32-nanometer, high-K metal gate process technology that's as efficient as modern processors.
Jury rules 9-3 against Rambus' anti-trust claim
Memory maker Rambus suffered a major legal setback Wednesday when a California jury ruled that the two defendants against which Rambus had filed complaints, Micron and Hynix, were not guilty of anti-competitive behavior under the state's antitrust laws. The jury, in a nine to three decision, found that the two companies had neither conspired to to prevent Rambus' technology from getting a foothold in the market, nor fixed the price of memory chips. If Rambus had won, the company could have received up to $4 billion in direct damages and triple that in punitive damages.
Claims and counterclaims in California court
In a legal battle being played out in a California Superior Court, memory producer Rambus has sued alternative memory manufacturers Micron and Hynix, claiming they were part of a conspiracy to drive Rambus and its RDRam chip technology out of the market. Today, the lawyer for Hynix tried to put the blame back at Rambus' own feet. In his opening argument, the lawyer claimed that Rambus's problems arose not by any of Hynix's actions, but from Rambus' own design and technology problems.
Technology could be faster and simpler than flash
A University of San Diego team has demonstrated a new technology that promises to be over 1,000 times faster than conventional hard drives and over seven times faster than SSDs. The storage system, named Moneta, uses phase-change memory (PCM) technology to sift through data. It should be especially useful for data intensive applications.
Rambus destroyed documents key to case: court
Rambus has destroyed documents that relate to patent cases it filed, a US appeals court said. Despite this, judges asked a lower court to review its decision to throw out a lawsuit. Memory chip makers Micron and Hynix Semiconductor, both of whom were involved in a lawsuit against Rambus, accused Rambus of destroying documents that were relevant to the case.
Intel and Micron hit 20nm for flash memory
Intel and Micron on Thursdaysaid they had developed the world's first 20 nanometer NAND flash memory in what could be a leap for mobile device storage. An 8GB example chip is 30 to 40 percent smaller than the current-best 25nm process and is just over 0.18 inches squared. The two companies expected the 20nm design to be just as fast as with 25nm but to be noticeably cheaper to make for equivalent features, since it could produce 50 percent more gigabytes of storage than they do today.
Micro, Unity agree on two-year deal on CMOx tech
Semiconductor maker Unity on Thursday announced it has partnered with Micron Technology to continue work on CMOx solid state memory. Unity hopes the new type of memory will replace current NAND memory. Unity has been developing CMOx for the past eight years and promises to allow scaling past the limits of flash.
Toshiba power outage hurts NAND flash, maybe Apple
Toshiba today said it had a power outage at its Yokkaichi plant that could affect flash memory supply. The failure at 5:21AM yesterday stopped production and won't be fixed until sometime Friday. Without the two days of production, the company said it could lose as much as 20 percent of its planned flash shipments for January and February.
Intel's 25nm, 3-bit flash ready to go
Intel's NAND flash memory leapt forward on Tuesday with news it had made the first samples of three bit-per-cell (3BPC), 25 nanometer storage. The development made with Micron is denser still than existing 25nm memory and can hold 8GB of content with 20 percent less of a footprint than traditional storage. Media players, flash memory cards and USB drives could all increase in capacity without growing in size, Intel said.
EU may make firms take plea to avoid huge fines
The European Union is about to fine nine companies a total of $370 million for allegedly fixing pricing on flash memory, leaks revealed on Monday. Samsung, Hynix, Toshiba and six other major companies are being pressed to admit to colluding on high prices in exchange for seeing a 10 percent drop in the fines levied against each company. An NYT contact believed a ruling could come as soon as Wednesday.
Rambus gets some patents upheld
Rambus late Thursday achieved a partial win in its ongoing patent dispute with NVIDIA. While an International Trade Commission decision in January found that NVIDIA had infringed on three of Rambus' patents for memory technology, a US Patent & Trademark Office verdict this week said that one of the Rambus patents was invalid and partially invalidated a second patent. NVIDIA plans to appeal the decision on the remaining patent.
Intel to more than double SSD sizes
Intel and its memory partner Micron this weekend said they have started producing samples of the first 25 nanometer NAND flash storage. Even denser than the 34nm drives shipped just last year, the technology depends on liquid-based immersion lithography to etch memory at much denser levels than before. An 8GB flash chip built on 25nm actually occupies slightly less space than a 34nm 4GB part.
Samsung deal worth $900 million; NVIDIA to appeal
In separate actions, southern California memory technology company Rambus has cleared a procedural hurdle in in its patent-infringement case against NVIDIA, and settled a claim against South Korean electronics giant Samsung.
Korea FTC finds NAND producers innocent
Korea's Fair Trade Commission on Wednesday cleared four major memory producers of charges of price fixing. The regulators said their investigations, begun in January of 2007, found no evidence that the unnamed companies were colluding to keep flash and RAM prices high. Agency officials added that the closure of a US investigation in August also supported their decision to end the case.
Micron intros fastest SSD with 355MBps read speed
Micron recently introduced one of the fastest solid state drives on the market with its RealSSD C300. It sports a native SATA 6GBps interface, which Micron claims is a first for the industry. Based on 34nm MLC (multi-level cell) flash memory, the range supports the high-speed ONFI 2.1 standard and is rated at 355MBps read speeds and 215MBps write speeds when at its peak.
Toshiba, SanDisk to mass-produce sub-30nm memory
Toshiba and SanDisk will produce 20nm-class NAND flash memory at their joint-venture facility in Yokkaichi, Japan in the second half of 2010, DigiTimes reported on Monday, citing industry sources. The facility will scale up production to about 200,000 wafers per month as a result. Toshiba used the factory to build 3-bit per cell (3bpc) 32nm memory, which were expected to account for 50 percent of capacity by the end of 2009, but the schedule was delayed.
Apple triggers holiday 09 flash shortage
Apple's new iPods and other flash-based devices have sparked an industry-wide shortage in the NAND memory they use, unofficial industry contacts claimed today. Samsung, one of Apple's primary suppliers, is claimed by DigiTimes as having cut its supply of flash memory to Taiwan companies in half. Other companies are faring worse, as Hynix and Toshiba have only promised "limited supply" while Micron has simply said it has no spare supplies at all.
Intel 3 Bit Per Cell Flash
Intel and Micron this morning said they have developed some of the densest NAND flash memory ever. The two have expanded on their already small 34 nanometer (nm) manufacturing process to add 3-bit-per-cell storage. By packing extra data into each memory cell, the firms say they can create a 32 gigabit (4GB) single chip that measures less than 0.2 inches square. While 3-bit isn't new and has been used by SanDisk, combining it with 34nm makes for not only the smallest chip of its type but also relatively inexpensive since more can be produced and more will fit in a given space.
New iPhone 3GS memory
Two more companies are set to join the ranks supplying memory for the iPhone 3GS, industry sources claim. Hynix's 41nm NAND flash is said to have recently passed 3GS validation, paving the way for future deliveries. Details of a Micron agreement have also allegedly emerged, pointing to volume shipments for Apple beginning in August. Unlike Hynix, Micron has 34nm chips ready to go, the sources say.
iPhone flash memory orders
Apple's preparations for the next-generation iPhone line is constraining worldwide supplies for leading flash memory manufacturers and may increase prices. A new analyst report says that Apple’s (unannounced) refresh of iPhones is putting increased pressure on flash memory manufacturers managing dwindling inventory. According to Cult of Mac, ThinkEquity analyst Vijay Rakesh is telling clients that Apple has begun placing orders for memory for a yet unannounced upgrade to the current iPhone 3G and the rumored "iPhone Nano" or a similar device. Most recently RBC analyst Mark Abramsky claimed that a $99 iPhone would appear later this summer, but that the device would not be a rumored iPhone nano, but instead a pared-down regular iPhone.
Micron 16GB NAND Flash
Micron this morning said it has started shipping the first production samples of 34 nanometer, 16GB NAND flash memory. The advancement uses the smaller manufacturing process to stack eight multi-level cell storage chips in a single package that holds the record amount without swelling the chip size. Micron sees the component as a way of giving smartphones and other handheld devices a large amount of built-in flash storage while the devices slim.
MPC Shuts Down
MPC Corp has quietly revealed that it plans to shut down its operations permanently. The long-time PC maker says an attempt to save itself during Chapter 11 bankruptcy has failed and that it will drop 147 jobs immediately. The firm likewise plans to keep a core of just 51 staffers for an unspecified number of months until it can completely wind down its operations. A tough economic climate gives the company no other choice, an official claims.
Micron 1GB Sec SSD
Micron has developed an extremely fast solid-state drive that could set new records for internal storage and shown the drive in an early test. The claimed new breakthrough in storage uses two SSDs with 16 data channels for the flash memory to generate a total transfer speed of 1GB per second. The performance tops 200,000 IOPS (input/output operations per second) and is quick enough that Micron has to drop Serial ATA II's 300MB per second bandwidth cap in favor of PCI Express.
Micron C200 256GB in March
Micron on Monday said to CNET that it would start mass-producing its long-promised RealSSD C200 256GB solid-state drive in March of next year. The timeframe pushes back the drive from its original fall launch and limits the current lineup to the 128GB drives common in the industry. The 2.5-inch SSD has been touted as a potential leader through its combination both of the large amount of space as well as its extremely high read speed, which matches Intel's at 250MB per second.
Intel 34nm 32Gb chip Ships
Intel and its memory making partner Micron today said they have begun mass producing their promised first 34nm NAND flash memory. The smaller manufacturing process lets the two firms build individual chip layers with 32 gigabits (4GB) of data in a standard package and in large batches using regular 300mm wafers. The technology is small enough to allow eight cores per layer and would allow a two-layer stack to carry as much as 64GB without needing entirely separate chips.
iPhone production slashed?
Apple has slashed the number of iPhones it plans to build before the end of the year, claims the analyst group Pacific Crest. While it had been expected that some 18 million phones would be made, Crest cites "supply chain channel checks" which indicate that Apple is ordering only 14 to 15 million units. If accurate, the move is not expected to hurt Apple, but rather its suppliers.
Micron RealSSD 256GB
Micron today made a concerted effort to bolster its RealSSD solid-state drives with extremely high-speed but potentially low-priced notebook models. The C200 line is one of Micron's first aimed at home notebook owners and uses the newest generation of multi-level cell (MLC) flash storage to supply speed without sacrificing capacity: every drive can read data as quickly as 250MB per second and write it at 100MB per second, while the conventionally notebook-sized 2.5-inch disk can hold as much as 256GB of data. A 1.8-inch drive for ultraportables holds up to 128GB.
Dell Tech Team Service
Dell on Tuesday introduced the Your Tech Team support option for its PCs. The nationwide service follows a New York City pilot project and gives owners of any Dell-branded device quicker access to technicians, the ability to schedule contact with a specific technician, and the ability to support at least some non-warranty problems. Performance tuning, network setup, and security are also available for a fee during the calls, Dell says.
Seagate to buy NAND maker?
Seagate is rumored to be looking into buying out Intel's 49 percent stake in the IM Flash Technologies joint venture between the chip maker and Micron, a flash memory manufacturer, according to analysts. That is just one option for Seagate, but the analysts say the company would be better off buying into SanDisk, as it is not involved with any other companies and is less costly. Furthermore, they maintain that Seagate needs to purchase or team up with a NAND flash memory maker in order to be successful in its solid state drive (SSD) production.
Intel 32Gb Flash Chip
Intel's NAND flash group today introduced the first flash memory to be made on a sub-40 nanometer manufacturing process. Based on a 34nm process, the chip co-developed with Micron holds 32 gigabits (4GB) like the highest-end flash chips but does so in a standard package smaller than a thumbnail; this lets manufacturers build in the extra storage without having to significantly overhaul their existing hardware, Intel says. The company also hopes it will drive the cost down of expanding storage without affecting size.
Micron 4GB DDR3 SO-DIMM
Micron Technology today unveiled 4GB DDR3 SO-DIMM modules, and announced its previously released 512MB, 1GB, and 2GB DDR3 modules are fully certified to work with Intel's upcoming Centrino 2 platform. The memory, rated at 1333MHz, requires a 64-bit aware operating system, such as Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, or a 64-bit version of Windows XP or Vista. The 512MB, 1GB, and 2GB modules are currently in production, with 4GB modules following later in Q2 2008.
Rambus Seeks Hynix Ban
Memory producer Rambus today revealed that it will petition for an injunction against industry rival Hynix, barring the latter from shipping RAM that allegedly infringes on Rambus patents. The action was requested after a federal court green-lighted legal efforts against Hynix as well as fellow memory producers Micron and Nanya, saying that the move to enforce patents would not tread on US antitrust laws. Rambus has said it would be willing to license the patents in exchange for royalties for memory sold.
Apple Yet to Order Flash
Apple is sending worrying signs that it hasn't ordered any significant amounts of the NAND flash memory it needs, say some of its Asian manufacturers. Although the company bought as much as $1.3 billion in memory over 2007, it hasn't started large orders since 2008 began and is effectively forcing its suppliers to sell flash below cost due to oversupply. Even the MacBook Air, which needs a large 64GB of memory for its solid-state drive, isn't enough to help clear stock due to its high price and low volume, according to the reports.
Intel Micro 5X Faster NAND
Intel and Micron today announced a new, extra-quick variant on NAND flash memory that should significantly alter the landscape for mass storage. By using the new ONFI 2.0 (Open NAND Flash Interface) spec combined with higher clock speeds and a four-level cell process, the unnamed technology transfers data up to five times faster than conventional technology. Where even normally quick single-level cell memory reads data at 40 megabytes per second and writes at 20 megabytes per second or less, the new technology reads and writes at 200 and 100 megabytes per second respectively, eliminating one of the final barriers to outperforming rotating hard drives.
Micron enters SSD market
Although long known as a RAM producer, Micron has only just introduced its first SSD flash drives, the RealSSD line. Coming in 1.8- and 2.5-inch sizes, the drives are limited to 32 or 64GB capacities, but bring with them a few distinguishing traits. They use a native SATA II interface instead of a bridge chip for example, and can be removed from a computer without turning off power beforehand. They also consume a mere 2W when active, and less when idling or in standby. Plastic casing is said to cut weight by at least 50 percent over similar-sized HDDs.