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Seagate to acquire SanDisk?

Posted: 19 Aug 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:flash drives  solid-state disc  patent-infringement suit  NAND flash-memory 

Rumours started flying at last week's Flash Memory Summit.

According to sources in the industry, Seagate Technology Inc. is interested in buying all or part of SanDisk Corp. Some analysts dismissed the rumour, saying it would be a bad marriage.

Some speculated that Seagate is only interested in SanDisk's solid-state disc (SSD) unit. An older rumour is that Seagate is interested in acquiring Stec Inc., formerly SimpleTech Inc., a supplier of SSDs and other products.

Seagate recently filed a patent-infringement suit against Stec, which may cause Stec to give in the disc drive maker.

A spokesman for Seagate said the company does not comment on rumours. SanDisk has not responded to e-mails or phone calls about the rumours.

Seagate has a keen interest in flash technology. The company is a supplier of hard drives, but it sees SSDs as a potential threat to its traditional business.

Seagate is looking to hedge its bets. The hard disc drive maker has announced it will start shipping flash drives, also called SSDs in early 2009, initially aiming at products for servers.

Besides the SanDisk chatter, there have been other recent rumours involving Seagate. Seagate could be a buyer of Intel Corp.'s stake in IM Flash Technologies LLC, the joint NAND flash-memory manufacturing venture between Intel and Micron Technology Inc., according to an analyst.

Market abuzz
It's all speculation right now, but rumours are running rampant that Intel will eventually exit the venture, said Daniel Amir, an analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, in a recent report.

Others disagreed. ''We think Intel will probably not exit the flash business as this business eats up N-1 and N-2 process technology capacity,'' said Craig Berger, an analyst with FBR, in a report issued last week (Aug.14)

''What will Intel do with all its 90nm and 65nm capacity if it exits all flash memory operations? The firm will still have the depreciation associated with that equipment whether it makes flash memory or not,'' Berger said. ''In fact, the whole reason Intel entered these businesses to begin with was so that flash memory could serve as a fab filler. Further, management may think, hope, or wish that solid state drives will come and save the day with respect to flash pricing. We think this is also an unlikely scenario given the enormous supply of memory capacity that Samsung continues to ramp.''

Intel has just introduced a new version of the Robson technology. Intel Turbo Memory, dubbed Robson, uses NAND flash on the board, reducing the time it takes for a computer to power up.

''We continue to believe that this product will not succeed and that NAND in the PC or notebook will have to wait to until Microsoft imbeds into the OS the capabilities to utilise NAND,'' said Avi Cohen, head of research at Avian Securities, in a separate report.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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