LONDON – Chip technology licensor Rambus Inc. has announced it has acquired Unity Semiconductor Corp., a developer of non-volatile memory technology for an aggregate sum of $35 million in cash.
Unity Semiconductor (Sunnyvale, Calif.), founded in 2002, was developing metal oxide based cross-point two-terminal non-volatile memory cell under, the name CMOx, with plans to enter the market with a terabit memory. Metal-oxide, or some other resistive memory, has the potential to achieve higher density, faster performance, lower manufacturing costs and greater data reliability than NAND flash memory, with many companies including Samsung, Hynix, Elpida and others working on the technology.
However, Unity was taking a long time to come to market. It announced in 2009 that it had raised $22 million but in 2011 Unity was reportedly rescued from financial hardship by a strategic investment from Micron Technology Inc. At about the same time Unity was rumored to have changed from a product business model to one based on the licensing of intellectual property.
This would make for a good fit with Rambus (Sunnyvale, Calif.). Rambus is a technology licensor itself and it is not expected that the company will compete in the memory chip business directly but plans to license Unity patents to others that wish to do so.
As part of the acquisition, the Unity team members have joined Rambus to continue developing innovations and solutions for next-generation non-volatile memory, Rambus said. The boards of directors of both companies have approved the acquisition and it has closed.
"With the addition of Unity, we can develop non-volatile memory solutions that will advance semiconductor scaling beyond the limits of today's NAND technology. This will enable new memory architectures that help meet ever-increasing consumer demands," said Sharon Holt, senior vice president and general manager of the semiconductor business group at Rambus, in a statement.
"Rambus provides our team the perfect environment to continue the technology development of non-volatile memory cells and architectures," said David Eggleston, president and chief executive officer at Unity Semiconductor, in the same statement. "Our comprehensive set of design, process and device solutions will complement Rambus' existing strong technology portfolio and system capabilities."
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