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Intel and Micron Announce Plans to Split 3D NAND Development

by MAC     |     January 8, 2018


In 2005, Intel and Micron made public their agreement to a form a joint company that was solely focused on the development and manufacturing of non-volatile memory. This led to the founding of Intel-Micron Flash Technologies (IMFT) in 2006, and the subsequent creation of three fabrication plants.

Throughout the years this long-running partnership successfully delivered some excellent planar NAND memory, and led to the creation of both 3D NAND and the new groundbreaking 3D XPoint memory technology. The innovation continues as IMFT is actually currently rolling out second generation 3D NAND.

However, both companies just announced a decision to begin separately developing 3D NAND sometime in early 2019, following the completion and delivery of their jointly designed third generation 3D NAND technology. Having said that, Intel and Micron will continue working together to further develop and manufacture 3D XPoint memory at their Utah fab, which is now entirely focused on 3D XPoint production.

While this might seem like a random development, this collaboration began weakening as far back as 2012 when Intel sold its stake in two of the three factories back to Micron for $600 million. Furthermore, those in the know have long seen January 2018 as a focal point of this joint partnership ever since the following was noticed on page 80 of Micron's 2014 Annual Report:

Quote:
The IMFT joint venture agreement extends through 2024 and includes certain buy-sell rights with an Intel put right, commencing in January 2015, and our call right commencing in January 2018, pursuant to which Intel may elect to sell to us, or we may elect to purchase from Intel, Intel's interest in IMFT. If Intel elects to sell to us, we would set the closing date of the transaction within two years following such election and could elect to receive financing of the purchase price from Intel for one to two years from the closing date.
Micron owns 51% of this joint venture, and they are eligible to get financing directly from Intel for the purchase of the remaining 49%. That is a pretty favourable deal for Micron. While that hasn't been announced, and may not happen given that both companies appear keen to keep working together on 3D XPoint technology, it is still interesting that this announcement was indeed made in January 2018.

Intel: Press Release.
Micron: Press Release.
 
 

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