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SanDisk and Hynix buddy up

Friendship made in Flash

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SanDisk and Hynix Semiconductor have reached a patent cross-licensing agreement covering Flash memory products from both companies and have come to terms over production supply.

The collaboration, announced late Tuesday, included a signed memorandum of understanding - and possible pinky swears - between Milpitas-based SanDisk and Seoul-based Hynix. The agreement outlines a plan for equal capital investments towards increasing production capacity at Hynix for the manufacture of memory components and NAND memory systems. However, no time line was given for bringing these plans to fruition.

The pact will focus on development of x4 Flash memory technology which holds four bits of data per cell at the same cost as today's more standard memory with one or two bits. The agreement is similar to one shared between Hynix and M-systems before it was acquired by SanDisk last year for $1.35bn.

"This cross-license agreement agreement resolves all IP issues between Hynix and SanDisk," said Eli Harari, CEO of SanDisk, "and allows each company to focus on maximizing its opportunities. Hynix has done an outstanding job in NAND flash manufacturing in the past few years, and I look forward to cooperating with Hynix through the joint venture planned between our two companies."

Financial details between the companies were not disclosed in the announcement.

On Tuesday, Hynix also ended pending patent-infringement suits with Toshiba in the U.S. and Japan with an agreement to share semiconductor patents between the two companies. ®

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