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Will Seagate buy Intel's stake in IM Flash?

Posted: 23 Jun 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Intel IM Flash stake? NAND JV? flash memory?

Seagate Technology Inc. could be a potential buyer of Intel Corp.'s stake in IM Flash Technologies LLC, the chip giant's joint NAND flash memory venture with Micron Technology Inc., according to an analyst.

It's all speculation right now, but rumors are running rampant that Intel will eventually exit the venture. "We believe the (joint venture) is unprofitable for Intel and it would be logical for it to exit the partnership if Intel were able to maintain some guaranteed capacity," said Daniel Amir, an analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, in a report. "Seagate would gain the capacity it needs and Intel would have a way out of its money-losing venture while still being a player in the (solid-state disk) market."

Intel has taken a beating in NAND flash in recent times, but the company still has an interest in two ventures: IM Flash and Numonyx, its memory JV with STMicroelectronics NV.

To some degree, there is a conflict between the two ventures. Meanwhile, Seagate is a HDD maker, but that company has some interest in NAND flash, given its recent entry in the solid-state storage (SSD) arena.

"Intel's IM Flash stake could be of value to Seagate, based on STX's interest in SSD, driven by the movement in PC markets to SSD from HDD," the analyst said.

It would also benefit Micron. "For Micron, the other partner in IM Flash, it would take away a potential competitor in NAND cards via Intel and strengthen the JV with a committed long-term partner," Amir said.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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