Thursday, January 11, 2018
Intel and Micron plan to pull the plug on their long-running partnership around NAND flash memory by early next year, the companies said.
In a joint statement issued Monday (Jan. 8), Intel and Micron said they would "work independently" on future 3D NAND after completing development of their third generation of 3D NAND late this year and into 2019. The companies said they would continue to work together to develop and manufacture 3D XPoint non-volatile memory.
According to Jim Handy, principal analyst at Objective Analysis, the ramp up of Intel's 300-mm fab in Dalian, China to produce 3D NAND — which began two years ago — has made Intel less reliant on Micron as a supplier.
"I think it's a good time for the two companies to move apart," Handy said.
He added that when IM Flash Technologies (IMFT) — the name of the joint venture between Intel and Micron — was founded in 2006, neither company knew if they would be successful in the NAND business and. Thus, he said, it made sense at the time for them to split their investment.
"But lately each company has been making their own investments without the other," Handy added.
According to Rob Lineback, a senior market research analyst at IC Insights, Intel and Micron now have different agendas and business requirements in NAND flashy. While Intel uses pretty much all its NAND flash in solid state devices for the data center and enterprise server markets, while Micron is using its for SSDs aimed at a wider swath of products, including notebook PCs, and continues to sell chips directly to OEMS.
Lineback noted that the IMFT fab in Lehi, Utah, will in the future be used only for manufacturing 3D XPoint, which needs alternate sourcing to get off the ground in a big way.
"After 12 years since the joint-venture was launched, IMFT is heading toward a new mission and purpose in life," Lineback said.
Both Intel and Micron are currently ramping products based on their second generation of 64-layer 3D NAND technology.
Copyright © 2018 CST, Inc. All Rights Reserved