Diablo & Netlist flash DIMM fight moves to trial by jury

We've tried jaw-jaw, now let's war-war

The world of developing server storage flash DIMMs is holding its breath – with settlement talks having failed, Netlist’s legal action against SanDisk’s technology source, Diablo Technologies, has moved to trial by jury.

Diablo is being sued for IP theft by Netlist in front of a Californian District Court* jury.

Diablo had a development relationship with Netlist, which ceased when the former worked out how to put flash chips in memory DIMM sockets using its Memory Channel Storage concept.

The technology facilitates the storage of data in flash DIMMs, instead of using them as power-fail back devices for memory DIMMs.

Netlist accused Diablo of stealing its own IP instead of developing its own, and sued.

As part of the legal process Diablo has been prevented from shipping any more MCS products to SanDisk and, effectively, a potential $1bn server flash DIMM market is on hold. Diablo is appealing the ban.

SanDisk’s acquired Smart Modular Technologies business unit, headed by John Scaramuzzo, produces faster-than-PCIe access ULLtraDIMMs, using Diablo’s MCS technology. It provides them to Lenovo, Huawei and SuperMicro for use in their servers to speed data access with lower access latencies than PCIe flash.

Although SanDisk can ship its ULLtraDIMM inventory to these three it can’t get any more product from Diablo. These vendors are sitting impotently by, as SanDisk has no alternative ULLtraDIMM technology source.

At the trial opening a Netlist lawyer alleged Diablo had gained a 22-month head start by using Netlist IP.

Diablo lawyers agreed there was a development agreement with Netlist but asserted that Diablo had not broken its terms, and any advances were based on its own work.

The case, which commenced on Monday 9 March, could take weeks to resolve. The trial continues. ®

*The case number is 4:13-cv-05962 (Netlist, Inc v. Diablo Technologies, Inc).

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