LEHI, Utah -- During a recent event here, the new chief of Intel Corp.'s NAND group outlined the company's strategy and revealed a surprise: The chip giant hopes to be the technology and solid-state storage (SSD) leader, but it is not seeking to be the top player in the discrete market.
Intel wants to avoid the cyclical, market share game in the NAND flash chip sector against the likes of Samsung, Hynix and Toshiba. But Intel dropped hints it wants to unseat Samsung as the No. 1 player in SSDs.
What's surprising about its discrete chip strategy is Intel generally aspires to be No. 1 in a given market, such as processors and chipsets. Generally, if Intel lags in a market, it exits the sector. For example, Intel has exited the ASIC market, communication ICs, NOR flash, branded PCs, supercomputers and other sectors for one reason or another over the years.
SSD is a different story. In fact, Intel this year plans to ship a line of SSDs, based on a new family of 25-nm parts made by the company's venture with Micron Technology Inc., said Tom Rampone, the new vice president and general manager of Intel's NAND Solutions Group.
"We want to be a leader in SSDs,'' he told EE Times at the event here. In 2010, ''we want to bring SSDs out of the niche markets and into the mainstream.''
Over the years, though, Intel has experienced some ups and downs in flash. The company is said to have introduced the first commercial NOR type flash chip in 1988. Although it became the process and market share leader in NOR, the company generally lost money in the business. In NOR, there were (and still are) too many players in a declining market.
Several years ago, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Fujitsu Ltd. saw the light and spun out their NOR venture into a company called Spansion. More recently, Intel jettisoned its NOR unit. That business was combined with STMicroelectronics Inc.'s flash unit to form what is now Numonyx NV.