LONDON – Consumer electronics giant Apple has bought flash memory controller startup Anobit Technologies Ltd. for about $390 million, according to Bloomberg report that referenced two unnamed Anobit shareholders as its sources.
The deal was signed on Jan. 6, and for a sum below that being sought by Anobit, which had been previously reported as between $400 million and $500 million.
Anobit (Herzeliya, Israel) has developed NAND flash memory controller technology that can improve the apparent endurance – the number of reads and writes flash memory can perform. The raw endurance performance of flash memory reduces dramatically with reduction in the geometry of the manufacturing process technology, to the point where flash memory becomes unsuitable for many applications.
The improved endurance can be used to allow less flash memory die to be used to attain a certain level of guaranteed memory capacity. Apple is the world's largest purchaser of NAND flash memory (about 23 percent of global supply) for inclusion its smartphones and tablet computers and therefore exclusive control of the Anobit technology could provide a significant advantage for the company
Anobit was founded in 2006 to make solid-state drives. It's MSP (Memory Signal Processing) technology is a combination of error correction and memory management schemes that compensates for errors and evens out wear thereby allowing higher apparent performance.
Anobit is believed to have received more than $72 million from venture capital firms including Pitango, Battery Ventures, Intel Capital and Micron Technologies and has about 200 staff.
In August Anobit announced that it had shipped more than 20 million flash controllers and that its MSP2025 supported up to 256-Gbyte of NAND flash implemented on 20-nm and sub-20-nm process technology.
Anobit entered the Silicon 60, EE Times' list of emerging
startup companies at version 12.0 in 2011. The latest edition of the Silicon 60 is version
12.5, which is the topic of a detailed technology and employment digital
edition which can be accessed via http://e.ubmelectronics.com/Silicon60/index.html
Smart move. They have the former PA-Semi engineers doing first the A4, then the A5 and most likely working on the A6, and now they have another hardware team with unique flash controller IP to extend the useful life of NAND flash.
But this also raises an interesting question. A big part of Apple's sales come from its loyal fans who buy every new generation of Apple product, or perhaps every other new generation. What happens to all the older gen devices that still work perfectly -- still have useful flash memory life, useful battery life, etc.?