Feeds

Market tempts Micronyx to get in the ring

Ringmaster Intel could whip up Micron/Numonyx merger

The essential guide to IT transformation

Comment There are renewed suggestions coming into El Reg that flash suppliers Micron and Numonyx could join up later this month.

The possibility surfaced in September, as it became clear how weak Numonyx was in terms of NAND flash sales. In December Micron recorded its first profitable quarter after several loss-making ones, while iSuppli third quarter 2009 market numbers revealed the relative market positions of the NAND flash producers.

To recap, Samsung and Toshiba dominated with revenue for the quarter of $1.55bn and $1.36bn respectively. Hynix was a distant number three - with less than a third of their revenues - at $394m. Micron was fourth with $305m, in striking distance of Hynix. Intel lagged behind with $240m and poor Numonyx limped in with just $90m.

Intel, Micron and Numonyx have inter-connections. Firstly, Intel and STMicroelectronics jointly set up Numonyx to offload some of their NOR and NAND flash operations. Intel holds 45 percent of Numonyx with STMicroelectronics having 49 per cent. Numonyx is pinning a lot of its hopes on a post-flash future with Phase-Change Memory (PCM), and it and Intel have announced a vertical stacking technology for PCM cells.

Intel and Micron have a joint-venture - Intel-Micron Flash Technologies (IMTF) - which was founded in 2006 to manufacture NAND chips. Lastly, Intel was thought to be wanting to get out of the flash business in 2008 because it was consuming more money than it was likely to make. That story went away and we heard no more about it.

The chatter now is that Intel, acting as the puppet-master, could orchestrate a merger or takeover by Micron of the weaker Numonyx, with its 45 per cent holding going to the resulting Micronyx or whatever it might be called. The IMTF foundry could get Numonyx's manufacturing facilities and Micronyx would inherit the Intel/Numonyx PCM expertise and assets. STMicroelectronics would need to agree to this and, if it did, then there is nothing that Numonyx could do to prevent its owners, Intel and STMicroelectronics, selling it or merging it with Micron, if Micron were to agree.

A Micron-Numonyx combination would have, at first glance, $395m revenues and would just leapfrog Hynix into the number three NAND supplier position. Will Micron CEO Steve Appleton and his board see benefits from bringing Numonyx on board and from PCM technology combining NAND and DRAM attributes, with Micron being involved in DRAM as well? There will be a lot of examination of future NAND market segment growth with much attention paid to the rise of mobile internet devices, (MIDs). Google's Nexus 1 smartphone is expected tomorrow and there is Apple's hoped-for iSlate in a few weeks time.

If MIDs are going to be the PC of the 2010 decade, then flash manufacturing volume capacity will be needed and buying it in rather than building vastly expensive new fabs will look like a good deal. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Pay to play: The hidden cost of software defined everything
Enter credit card details if you want that system you bought to actually be useful
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
HP busts out new ProLiant Gen9 servers
Think those are cool? Wait till you get a load of our racks
Silicon Valley jolted by magnitude 6.1 quake – its biggest in 25 years
Did the earth move for you at VMworld – oh, OK. It just did. A lot
VMware's high-wire balancing act: EVO might drag us ALL down
Get it right, EMC, or there'll be STORAGE CIVIL WAR. Mark my words
Forrester says it's time to give up on physical storage arrays
The physical/virtual storage tipping point may just have arrived
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.