Micron earlier this week announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Numonyx in an all-stock transaction that would value the company at $1.27 billion.
"Acquiring Numonyx brings together two memory leaders and positions Micron to offer the most comprehensive, cost-competitive solutions in the industry to a broad range of customers and end-markets," said Steve Appleton, Chairman and CEO of Micron.
The agreement has Micron issuing 140 million Micron common shares to Numonyx shareholders, Intel, STMicroelectronics, and Francisco Partners. In addition, up to 10 million more Micron common share will be issued ratably to Numonyx shareholders, the company said.
Micron says it expects Numonyx's balance sheet to be debt-free after closing the deal.
Don't worry if you've never heard of IM Flash Technologies (IMFT), because you've certainly heard of the two companies which comprise the joint venture: Intel and Micron. And the big news coming from IMFT today is that the silicon duo have managed to unveil the world's first 25nm NAND Flash memory.
"To lead the entire semiconductor industry with the most advanced process technology is a phenomenal feat for Intel and Micron, and we look forward to further pushing the scaling limits," said Brian Shirley, vice president of Micron's memory group. "This production technology will enable significant benefits to our customers through higher density media solutions."
What this means to Joe Consumer is smaller, higher density designs at lower price points. So next-gen SSDs, for example, could very well end up with larger capacities without jacking up prices far and above what they already are. And according to Intel, performance will be on par with current 34nm products.
IMFT said it has already sent 8GB NAND samples to a handful of manufacturers. These samples represent the industry's first monolithic 8GB NAND devices, and at a die size of 167mm2, they boast twice the capacity of the company's highest density 34nm parts.
For more technical specs, as well as a quick tour inside IMFT's multi-billion dollar semiconductor plant in Lehi, Utah, see HotHardware's write-up here.
If you're looking for the fastest solid state drive available for your notebook or desktop PC, Micron says look no further than its RealSSD C300 drive. According to Micron, the new drive improves performance in a number of areas, including faster OS boot and hibernate times, speedier application loads, and peppier data transfer and file copying.
"The C300 SSD not only delivers on all the inherent advantages of SSDs -- improved reliability and lower power use -- but also leverages a finely tuned architecture and high-speed ONFI 2.1 NAND to provide a whole new level of performance," said Deal Klein, vice president of memory system development at Micron.
Micron says the performance gains are even better when paired with a SATA 6Gb/s interface. How much so? Try up to 355MB/s reads and up to 216MB/s writes. And in its own internal benchmarking, Micron's C300 scored 45,000 in PC Mark Vantage's HDD Suite.
See a side-by-side showdown between Micron's RealSSD C300 and a hard drive in this YouTube video.
Micron reports that the two new chips can achieve up to 30,000 write cycles, a six-fold increase over present technology. Furthermore, the chips will support the Open NAND Flash Interface (ONFI) 2.1 synchronous interface, which can deliver a 4x to 5x improvement in data transfer rates over legacy NAND interfaces. Improved throughput specifications and smaller size hold promise for expanding flash memory options for consumers.
Intel and Micron have developed a new 34nm NAND flash memory technology that is capable of 3 bits per cell, which allows for greater density than the standard 2 bits per cell technology currently in use, the two companies announced this week.. According to Micron, this will pave the way for high-capacity USB flash drives.
Micron also said the technology isn't yet as reliable as flash memory based on 2 bits per cell technology. Because of this, the 3 bits per cell chips will only be used in the manufacturer of flash drives that don't require the data storage reliability of an SSD.
"The chip is not for all markets," claims Jim Handy of semiconductor market researcher Objective Analysis. "The companies explained that they need more experience in production volumes before they will be confident to position it as a chip suitable for the high-write environment of the SSD."
Micron said the chips will be in mass production in the fourth quarter.
Good news for storage buffs - Micron today said it has begun mass producing 34nm flash memory products, resulting in 16Gb (gigabit) and 32Gb NAND chips that will push high end storage capacities to new levels.
"Our industry-leading NAND products are opening new possibilities for some of the world's most popular consumer electronic devices," said Brian Shirley, vice president of Micron's memory group. "With our new 16- and 32Gb NAND chips in mass production, we are enabling customers to design cost-effective, high-capacity storage in their small-form factor products, using less space and fewer die."
Micron says its 32Gb MLC NAND chip is 17 percent smaller than its first -generation 32Gb chip, and that both new chips offer transfer speeds of up to 200MB/s.
As a result of the new product, mainstream SDHC cards may double in capacity from 4-8GB to 8-16GB, with 64GB or more leading the high-end market.
The formation of the consolidated Taiwan Memory Company (TMC) faces a major setback today, as both Micron Technology and Nanya Technology, along with their joint venture Inotera memories, have pulled out of discussions to be part of the new group, DigiTimes reports.
For Micron's part, the company wasn't comfortable with the risk of its tecnology IP potentially leaking out if multiple patent holders began working under TMC. Micron stressed that its IP portfolio for specialty DRAM is more advanced than Elpida's, who is one of the participants.
Facing the worst DRAM market in 15 years, the Taiwanese government earlier this year announced the formation of the new DRAM company, TMC. The point of the new company was to consolidate memory companies and rescue its ailing DRAM makers. The government-led project is still in talks with various memory makers, including Winbond, who just yesterday confirmed it met with decision makers for TMC.
Micron, Nanya, and Inotera said they will continue to develop and improve their own partnership in preparation for competition from the new memory company.
Slumping demand continues to take its toll on the memory chip industry. Micron, the largest U.S. maker of memory chips, said earlier this week that it has been particularly affected by decreased demand for specialty DRAM products, and as a result it plans to phase out 200mm wafer manufacturing operations in its Boise, Idaho facility.
"This action will reduce employment at Micron's Idaho sites by approximately 500 employees in the near term and as many as 2,000 positions by the end of the company's fiscal year," Micron said in a statement. "The company has sufficient manufacturing capacity remaining and does not expect any disruption in product supply required for customer needs."
Micron went on to say that these latest job cuts were not anticipated and not part of the 15 percent global workforce reduction it announced last October.
The chip maker said it will continue to operate its 300mm research and development fabrication facility at the Boise site. Financially, Micron expects cash restructuring charges to be in the vicinity of $50 million, which Micron says will generate a gross annualized operating cash benefit of $150 million.
The runaway train wreck of memory lawsuits started by Rambus may finally be coming to an end. In a U.S. District Court, Judge Sue L. Robinson has ruled that Rambus’s patent suit against Micron Technologies is “unenforceable”. In her ruling she specifically cites “spoliation”, which is defined as the “destruction or alteration of evidence”. Essentially Rambus has been accused of failing to preserve documents that could be admitted as evidence. This news comes as an incredible relief to Micron Technologies, the single largest U.S. manufacturer of memory chips. Though this ruling is specific to the Micron case, if it holds up in the inevitable appeal, several other companies facing Rambus lawsuits such as Nvidia, Samsung, Hitachi, and Hynix may also be spared.
Judge Robinson also voiced her disapproval for Rambus’s aggressive tactics by using lawsuits against competitors. In her ruling she quotes a specific email from September 29th 1999 whereby the author declares the “need to sue a dram company to set an example”. The email also specifically states that they should attempt to publicize the patents and lawsuits to “put all dram/controller companies that use sdram/ddr….on notice.”
Rambus has publically denounced the ruling and according to senior vice president Tom Lavelle, “"We respectfully, but strongly, disagree with this opinion, and at the appropriate juncture plan to appeal." "This opinion is highly inconsistent with the findings of the Court in the Northern District of California which looked at the same conduct and found there was nothing improper with our document retention practices. We are confident in the strength of our position and will continue to vigorously pursue fair compensation for the use of our patented inventions."
Micron Technology knows as well as anyone just how bad the memory market has become. For the eight-straight time, the Boise, Idaho-based memory maker posted a loss as it struggles to cope with declining chip prices. But despite the company's best efforts, Micron posted a net loss of $706 million, or 91 cents per diluted share, for the quarter ended December 4, 2008.
While the loss itself doesn't come as a surprise, the total amount does. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg were expecting Micron to post a loss of 45 cents per share, but slumping prices continues to take its toll. Prices for DRAM and NAND flash memory have fallen 34 percent and 24 percent respectively, Cnet reports, and relief doesn't appear to be on the way anytime soon as memory companies look to cut production.
"The rate at which capacity comes back online will be determined by what the demand profile is through the first half of '09," Micron CEO Steve Appleton said during a conference call. "If you talk to the equipment guys, they will tell you that they may not have any business in '09 in certain categories."
Earlier this year, Micron announced plans to cut 15 percent of its global workforce as part of a two-year restructuring plan.