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Micron Announces First 2.5-inch PCIe Enterprise SSD

Micron Technology, Inc., one of the world's leading providers of NAND Flash and advanced solid-state storage solutions, today announced that it has developed a 2.5-inch enterprise solid-state drive (SSD) based on a PCIe interface. The solution combines a high-performance PCIe interface with a hot-swappable 2.5-inch form factor that creates new options for enterprise server performance scalability and serviceability.

Because the 2.5-inch form factor allows PCIe SSDs to be integrated into the front end of the server (like traditional data storage drives), customers can easily service the drive or scale performance - without ever powering down the server.

Intel, Micron Update NAND Flash Memory Joint Venture

Intel Corporation and Micron Technology, Inc., today announced that the companies have entered into agreements to expand their NAND Flash memory joint venture relationship.

The agreements, which are designed to improve the flexibility and efficiency of the joint venture, include a NAND Flash supply agreement for Micron to supply NAND products to Intel and agreements for certain joint venture assets to be sold to Micron. Under terms of the agreement, Intel is selling its stake in two wafer factories in exchange for approximately $600 million—the approximate book value of Intel's share. Additionally, Intel will be receiving approximately half of the consideration in cash and the remaining amount will be deposited with Micron, which may be refunded or applied to Intel's future purchases under the NAND Flash supply agreement. The agreements also extend the companies' successful NAND Flash joint development program and expand it to include emerging memory technologies.

Micron Biggest Shareholder of Inotera Memories

Micron Technology emerged as the biggest shareholder of Inotera Memories, with 40% stake in the company. This follows Nanya Technology's decline in shareholding from 30% to 26%. Micron had recently taken up new shares of Inotera in a private placement for about NT$5 billion (US$169.1 million), or NT$6.55 per share. DigiTimes notes that the fresh investment by Micron will help expedite DRAM and NAND flash capacities in Taiwan, Japan, and the US; which will helpD RAM makers to deliver integrated DRAM/NAND flash solutions to clients to improve ASPs and profitability, according to Inotera president Charles Kao.

Source: DigiTimes

Elpida's Exit from DRAM Industry Will Have Huge Consequences

In case Elpida is unable to repay its debts due in April and goes insolvent, marking its exit from the DRAM industry, the consequences for not just the DRAM industry, but also the PC industry as a whole, will be huge, note industry observers. On the 15th, Eplida released a statement on the assumed going concern in the company with regards to its debt situation. The company has been unable to recover from its condition despite injections of capital backed by no less than the Japanese government.

Elpida has to repay nearly 40 billion JPY US ($505.8 million) to the government, and another 80 billion JPY (US $1.02 billion) in short-term bank loans. Frantic negotiates are on between the company and its long list of creditors that include the Japanese government and other banks to seek an interim relief from the default, even as the company searches for a cash-source that would alleviate the situation and make it survive. Elpida's situation is different from that of Qimonda, it's larger, has more technologies in the pipeline, and has recently set up 30 nm-class mass-production and is testing 20 nm-class production. In other words, it has much greater potential as a company that contributes to the industry, if it survives. Its exit will leave the industry imbalanced, and dominated by Korean DRAM makers such as Samsung and Hynix, and American Micron Technology, a step closer to oligarchical price-controls, observers note.Source: Xbit Labs

Micron Announces Public Memorial Service, Memorial Funds for Steven R. Appleton

Micron Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq:MU), today announced details involving the public memorial service and memorial funds for Steven R. Appleton, longtime Micron Chairman and CEO, who passed away Feb. 3. The public memorial service will be held Feb. 23 beginning at 10 a.m. MT at Taco Bell Arena on the campus of Boise State University.

Memorial funds have also been established in Mr. Appleton's name with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Boise State University Foundation. The Micron Foundation has donated $25,000 to each of the funds in honor of Mr. Appleton.

Micron Launches New Product Category of Low-Standby-Power DDR3Lm

Micron Technology, Inc. is extending its legacy of memory leadership by introducing a new product category of low-power DDR3 solutions targeted at the tablet and ultrathin markets. These 2-gigabit (Gb) and 4 Gb "DDR3Lm" solutions focus on low self-refresh power (IDD6) for longer battery life, while maintaining the high performance and cost effectiveness of PC DRAM.

The first 2 Gb DDR3Lm will provide up to 50 percent self-refresh power savings versus standard 2 Gb DDR3L while driving performance up to -1600 MT/s when needed. Micron's 4 Gb DDR3Lm product delivers the same optimized power efficiency as the 2 Gb part, with a reduced chip count that is ideally suited for ultrathin and tablet customers. Both 2 Gb and 4 Gb DDR3Lm will be adopted into Micron's 30-nanometer (nm) class to further optimize the power and performance features, with the 4 Gb device hitting a 3.7mA IDD6 target in standby mode, yet still supporting speeds up to -1866 MT/s.

Micron Technology Appoints Mark Durcan as Chief Executive Officer, Director

Micron Technology, Inc., today announced the appointment of D. Mark Durcan as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company. Mr. Durcan will also serve as a Director on Micron's Board of Directors. The appointments come after the company reported that Steven R. Appleton, longtime Micron Chairman and CEO, passed away in a Feb. 3 airplane accident in Boise.

The Board of Directors also announced the appointment of Director Robert E. Switz as Chairman of the Board and Mark W. Adams as President. Mr. Switz has served as a Director since 2006 and is the former Chairman and CEO of ADC Telecommunications. He has previously served as chair of the Micron Board's Audit and Governance committees. Mr. Adams joined the company in 2006 and served most recently as Vice President of Worldwide Sales.

Micron CEO Steve Appleton Dies In Plane Crash

CNN is reporting Micron CEO Steve Appleton has died in a small-plane crash in Boise this morning. According to CNN, 'Appleton was flying a Lancair fixed-wing single-engine plane that crashed at 8:58 a.m. local time at Boise Airport' Said a spokeswoman for the airport. She could not confirm whether the accident took place at takeoff, landing or during flight.' No other details are currently known.

Micron was founded in Boise in October 1978, and it became a public company in June 1984. The company ranked No. 287 on the 2011 Fortune 500 list. At the end of 2011, Micron employed about 20,000 full-time staffers. Mr. Appleton is survived by his wife and children.Source: CNN

Micron to Buy US $500M Worth Elpida Shares

Idaho-based Micron Technology is reportedly going to spend at least US $500 million in purchasing a stake in its Japanese rival, Elpida, according to a Economic Daily News report. This development closely follows reports of an equity tie-up between the two companies, with a decision emerging in February.

Taiwanese Nanya Technology and Inotera Memories stated in recent reports that DRAM makers should consider uniting their operations as such moves could contribute to the industry's sustainable development. Elpida refused to comment on this latest report. What does this mean to the consumer? The year 2011 has been a bloodbath for DRAM makers as overproduction led to drastic drops in PC memory prices, and a watershed for PC consumers as a result. These latest developments could contribute to the inevitable rebound of DRAM prices in 2012.Source: DigiTimes

Micron, Elpida and Nanya Reportedly Having Merger Talks

According to a Japanese newspaper (Yomiuri), the country's last DRAM manufacturer, Elpida Memory, is fishing for a merger with two other memory companies, US-based Micron Technology and Taiwan's own Nanya Technology.

If it will go through, the merger would create a company better positioned in the memory market, and more capable of fighting South Korean companies like Samsung Electronics and Hynix Semiconductor.

While the company didn't comment on the merger talks, Elpida's President Yukio Sakamoto is said to have made a trip to the US last week to further negotiations with Micron. It's still uncertain how advanced are the talks but a deal could be signed this year.Source: Reuters

Micron Announces Agreement to Acquire Virtensys

Micron Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq:MU), and Virtensys Ltd. today announced that the companies have signed an agreement for Micron to acquire the assets of privately held Virtensys, a provider of PCIe-sharing solutions based in Manchester, England and Beaverton, Ore.

The transaction would further strengthen Micron‘s enterprise storage portfolio by combining Virtensys’ award-winning PCIe virtualization technology with Micron's solid state drives (SSDs), enabling data centers to share local storage across multiple servers.

DRAM Suppliers: Oligopoly The Only Way Back To Profitability?

The random access memory market is a fiercely competitive one. Also, the yearly high PC shipment volume cycles of yesteryear are now history, pushing the various memory manufacturers into the red – and staying there. Well, it seems like Elpida is feeling the pinch more than most, because much of their debt has come from the Japanese government’s recapitalization program and must be repaid by the end of April 2012. It looks like they can’t pay this off so easily and due to this pressing deadline are looking for cash wherever they can get it, so it looks like merging with one of their rivals such as Toshiba or Micron might help them out of this predicament. Ultimately though, everyone in the DRAM market is hurting now, so it looks like fewer players are needed, so that they can work more like an oligopoly to return to profitability.

While great for helping them to survive, this isn't such good news for the end customer, who will end up seeing higher prices for their memory and a much slower decline in prices, if any. There's lots of detailed analysis and facts and figures over at X-bit labs.

Barclays Capital Downgrades Intel, Freescale, Spansion; Upgrades Micron Technology

Investment firm Barclays Capital lowered its ratings on semiconductor majors Intel, Applied Materials Inc, Freescale Semiconductor Holdings Ltd, Microchip Technology Inc., and Spansion Inc., from "equal weight" from "overweight", meaning that these companies are no longer outperforming, and are doing average, with negligible growth. Towards the end of 2011, Intel adjusted its Q4 forecast, lowering it by $1 billion, blaming factors beyond its control such as HDD supply problems. Weakened PC sales growth is another major factor. On the other hand, DRAM and NAND flash memory maker Micron Technology got its rating upgraded to "overweight", as Barclays notes that the industries Micron is in, are on the verge of a boom. Reacting to this, Micron's shares shot up by 11 percent during trading early this week, sending its shares' valuation from $6.2 billion, up 9 percent to $6.88 billion.

Source: Reuters

Micron Technology, Inc., Reports Results for the First Quarter of Fiscal 2012

Micron Technology, Inc., today announced results of operations for its first quarter of fiscal 2012, which ended December 1, 2011. For the first quarter, the company had a net loss attributable to Micron shareholders of $187 million, or $0.19 per diluted share, on net sales of $2.1 billion. The results for the first quarter of fiscal 2012 compare to a net loss of $135 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, on net sales of $2.1 billion for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011, and net income of $155 million, or $0.15 per diluted share, on net sales of $2.3 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2011.

The company's consolidated gross margin remained at 15 percent for the first quarter of fiscal 2012. Improvements in NAND Flash margins were offset by declines in DRAM. Revenue from sales of NAND Flash products was 6 percent higher in the first quarter of fiscal 2012 compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 due to an 18 percent increase in sales volume partially offset by a 10 percent decrease in average selling prices. Revenue from sales of DRAM products was essentially unchanged in the first quarter of fiscal 2012 compared to the previous quarter, as a 14 percent increase sales volume was offset by a 12 percent decrease in average selling prices. Sales of NOR Flash products were approximately 14 percent of total net sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2012.

DDR4 May Use 3D Stacking Technology

Micron Technology, one of the biggest DRAM companies, has announced that it's working the JEDEC standards organization for computer memory, to standardize a new DRAM interface and die-stacking technology called three-dimensional stacking, or 3DS, which may be incorporated into the upcoming DDR4 standard. X-bit labs has a nice summary of how 3DS works:
The idea behind 3DS is to use specially designed and manufactured master-and-slave DRAM die, with only the master die interfacing with the external memory controller. 3DS technology uses optimized DRAM die, single DLL per stack, reduced active logic, single shared external I/O, improved timing, and reduced load to the external world. This combination of features can improve timing, bus speeds, and signal integrity while lowering both power consumption and system overhead for next-generation modules, according to Micron.

Intel and Micron develop first-ever 128 Gb NAND Flash memory chip

Flash buddies Intel and Micron have today announced a significant breakthrough in terms of NAND density, the first 128 Gb (16 GB) MLC NAND memory chip. Manufactured on 20 nm process technology, this 128 Gb chip complies with the ONFI 3.0 specification (enabling speeds of up to 333 megatransfers per second) and can be used for new, high-capacity solid state drives, as well as for next-generation tablets, smartphones and other portable devices.

According to Intel and Micron, this milestone was made possible by the use of a new, innovative cell structure that 'breaks the scaling constraints of the standard NAND floating gate cell by integrating the first Hi-K/metal gate stack on NAND production.'

IBM to Produce Micron's HMC in Debut of First Commercial, 3D Chip-Making Capability

IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Micron Technology, Inc. announced today that Micron will begin production of a new memory device built using the first commercial CMOS manufacturing technology to employ through-silicon vias (TSVs). IBM's advanced TSV chip-making process enables Micron's Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) to achieve speeds 15 times faster than today's technology.

Micron's Hybrid Memory Cube features a stack of individual chips connected by vertical pipelines or “vias,” shown above. IBM’s new 3-D manufacturing technology, used to connect the 3D micro structure, will be the foundation for commercial production of the new memory cube.

IBM will present the details of its TSV manufacturing breakthrough at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting on December 5 in Washington, DC.

JEDEC to Host Mobile Memory Event at 2012 International CES

JEDEC Solid State Technology Association, the global leader in the development of standards for the microelectronics industry, today announced its participation in the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 12. CES, produced by the Consumer Electronics Association, is the preeminent showcase for the worldwide consumer electronics industry. JEDEC’s partner program, Memory Matters: Memory Solutions for Consumer Products and Mobile Devices, will explore how technological advancements and new standards can enhance device performance, reduce power usage and enable compact form factors.

Ever-increasing expectations for device speed and performance, as well as the trend towards smaller form factors, are driving the need for versatile memory solutions. Speakers from Agilent, CST, Micron and Samsung will highlight leading-edge memory solutions for next-generation mobile applications, a new generation of low-power memories for smartphones and tablets, and much more.

Shot Down In Flames: Darling Of The Tech Industry, Rambus

Rambus is the company best known for suing dozens of companies over memory patents that it holds and is suing so prolifically, that many just see this company as a patent troll. It has been accused many times of obtaining submarine patents while a member of the JEDEC group until a decade ago, which it is now fraudulently using to try and extort royalties from every other company using DDR memory and its derivatives. Unfortunately, those lawsuits didn't stick, encouraging Rambus to carry on enthusiastically. Rambus won patent fights against NVIDIA and Samsung for example, who now have to pay them ongoing royalties. However, it looks like Rambus may have bitten off more than it could chew, because it has just lost a $4 billion antitrust lawsuit against Micron Technology Inc and Hynix Semiconductor Inc, erasing more than half of the chipmaker's value as investors abandoned its stock in droves. Rambus stock immediately plunged more than 60% on this good news.

Micron Introduces New 64 GB DDR3 LRDIMM Module

Micron Technology, Inc., today announced a new portfolio of load reduced dual-inline memory modules (LRDIMMs) featuring a 64GB offering. In addition to the standard densities of 8GB, 16GB and 32GB, which are sampling in high volume to several customers, Micron is introducing a 64GB LRDIMM to meet the ever-growing density requirements of servers.

Micron continues its memory market leadership with modules that provide 50 percent higher memory capacity and a performance increase of 33 percent for server applications. Resulting improvements to system scalability can significantly enhance cloud computing, high-performance computing, Web servers, transactional databases, and data analytics while reducing power needs by nearly 10 percent per DIMM slot compared to standard modules.

Micron Unveils RealSSD C400 Series Self-Encrypting Solid State Drives

Micron Technology, Inc., introduced a new version of its popular RealSSD C400, featuring self encryption for unmatched data security. The C400 SED (Self-Encrypting Drive) is based on the Trusted Computing Group (TCG) Opal specifications and provides a hardware-based answer for the increasing wave of data breaches that continue to impact computer users and enterprises worldwide.

Security breaches caused by malicious attacks are on the rise, according to the recent Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report. While it's notable that the increase in small-scale external attacks doesn't rely on highly sophisticated approaches, encryption is widely credited as the first choice for the most affordable security solution for deterring such intrusions.

Micron Debuts World's Highest-Density, High-Performance SPI NOR Flash Memory at 1 Gb

Micron Technology, Inc., today introduced the highest-density Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) NOR memory available, launching 1 gigabit (Gb), 512 megabit (Mb) and 256Mb products in both 1.8V and 3V power supply voltages. Employing state-of-the-art 65nm process technology, the N25Q product family offers the highest-speed quad I/O in the industry and a full set of advanced features and small packages that improve overall system performance and time-to-market in networking, set-top boxes, automotive and a wide range of industrial, computing and consumer applications.

Extending the company's legacy of memory leadership, Micron's new SPI NOR product line balances customers' needs for cost-effective solutions at higher densities while ensuring compatibility among future chipsets. Micron's long-term commitment to customers in the embedded markets is reinforced by Micron's Product Longevity Program (PLP) – a 10-year commitment to provide stable memory architectures for customer designs. The new N25Q products will be offered as part of this program to provide design assurance for its PLP customers.

A-Data Cashes in on Smart Response and Embedded Markets with New mSATA SSDs

Intel's Smart Response technology is doing wonders to the low-cost SSD market. The technology lets low-capacity, usually low-cost SSDs to be used as caches for hard drives, improving the system's overall responsiveness. The technology makes these low-cost SSDs more of a component than a product (such as 2.5-inch SATA SSDs), and hence it makes sense to offer them in the mSATA form-factor. Intel made its headstart by launching the Intel 311 "Larson Creek" series 20 GB SSD that comes in both 2.5-inch SATA 3 Gb/s and mSATA form factors. While mSATA makes it easy to deploy the technology into notebooks, desktop motherboard vendors such as Gigabyte thought it would be nice to give their motherboards an mSATA slot.

Capitalizing on this very market is A-Data, with a couple of new low-cost mSATA SSDs in the ISFM series. First is the ISFM-XM13, an mSATA SSD driven by a SandForce SF-1200 series controller. Even with some of the controller's channels unoccupied (due to obvious lack of space to put NAND flash chips), this card doles out decent transfer rates of up to 250 MB/s read and 170 MB/s write. This card comes in capacities of 30 GB (32 GB with 2 GB overprovisioned) and 60 GB (64 GB with 4 GB overprovisioned). This card uses MLC NAND flash. Next up, is the ISFM-IXM01, that looks to be using a JMicron-made controller. The bigger difference here is the use of SLC NAND flash on one of its two variants, which traditionally offers higher rewrite cycles. The other variant uses MLC NAND flash. The SLC variant offers transfer rates of 90 MB/s read and 90 MB/s write, and comes in capacities of 2, 4, 8, and 16 GB. The MLC variant gives you 150 MB/s read, 120 MB/s write; and comes in capacities of 32, 64, and 128 GB.

Crucial m4 SSD with Higher Capacities and Faster Performance Now Available

Lexar Media, a leading global provider of memory products for digital media, today announced the immediate availability of Crucial m4 solid-state drives in capacities ranging from 64GB to 512GB. Designed for both business customers and general consumers, the Crucial m4 SSD product line incorporates Micron's industry-leading 25-nanometer (nm) NAND flash technology in a 2.5" form factor. Like its Crucial RealSSD C300 predecessor, the Crucial m4 also supports the SATA 6Gb/s interface, opening up the data path between the host processor and the SSD, and resulting in improved overall system responsiveness, including faster boot times and application loads.

The new Crucial m4 SSD reaches read speeds of up to 415 MB/second, a 17 percent increase over its predecessor. Likewise, write speeds on the new 512GB capacity have demonstrated increases up to 260MB/s, a 20 percent boost over the fastest C300 drive1. Ideal for client computing, Crucial m4 SSD products provide benefits for notebooks, desktops, workstations, and industrial applications, including low power consumption, lightweight construction, and resistance to shock and vibration.

Intel and Micron Open Singapore NAND Flash Memory Operation

Intel Corporation (Nasdaq:INTC) and Micron Technology, Inc. today expanded their NAND Flash memory joint venture operations with the official opening of IM Flash Singapore. The US$3 billion facility is expected to employ about 1,200 and is currently ramping production of the companies' industry-leading 25 nanometer (nm) NAND Flash memory. The companies announced the opening of the state-of-the-art 300 millimeter facility at a ceremony with Singapore government representatives, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

"In just five short years, Intel and Micron have successfully collaborated to become the industry's NAND Flash leader," said Steve Appleton, Micron Chairman and CEO. "The opening of IM Flash Singapore marks another significant milestone in our partnership and complements Micron's Singapore operations that serve as our company's Asian hub."
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