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OCZ opens wide and swallows Indilinx

Embedded SSD controller tech gives it deeper penetration into new markets

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Speedy SSD maker OCZ is buying fabless Indilinx, which makes controller software and silicon for SSDs, especially embedded SSDs.

OCZ is based in San Jose and privately held Indilinx is headquartered in Bundang, South Korea, where it also has a research and development centre. There is an office in Milpitas, not far from San Jose. The acquisition is friendly, with Indilinx continuing its operations under its founder and president Bumsoo Kim and chief technology officer Hyunmo Chung. The company was started up in 2006 by ex-Samsung NAND flash people. It designs controller silicon and software, such as the Barefoot and Amigos products, and sells to a range of OEMs, including OCZ.

By and large its products are not used in the fastest consumer SSDs nor in enterprise SSDs. OCZ uses SandForce controllers for its fastest products, such as the Vertex 2, RevoDrive, Deneva enterprise drives and a coming Vertex 3 drive family. Indilinx has new controller technology, called Tinkerbell, which is a high-performance e.MMC (embedded Multi-Media Card) 4.4x device for mobile consumer internet devices such as smartphones, tablet computers, notebooks and navigation systems. It can transfer data at 104MB/sec, at Double Data Rate, for both sequential and random I/Os, according to Indilinx. This makes the devices snappier in their response, OCZ claims, and it adds that Tinkerbell can replace ordinary SSDs embedded in such products.

OCZ sets a lot of store by Tinkerbell and some 20 other patented flash inventions, but the big payoff is an expanded opportunity for OCZ in the consumer mobile internet device area. This was alluded to by OCZ CEO Ryan Petersen in a canned statement: "This combination ... provides a unique opportunity for OCZ to ... expand our reach into embedded markets."

Indilinx will continue its existing operations – but now will have OCZ resources behind it. OCZ says it will continue to use externally sourced controllers including the SandForce ones.

The price is $32m of OCZ shares, there being no cash element and thus no walk-away money for Indilinx founding staff. With Western Digital buying Hitachi GST partly for its SSD operations, this OCZ move is a further indication that consolidation is beginning to be a factor in the NAND flash industry. ®

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