Print 90 comment(s) - last by Cheesew1z69.. on Dec 18 at 9:24 PM

Anobit acquisition could be the biggest purchase of a hardware maker in Apple's history

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) can't hide its love flash.  Apple is immersed in a over decade long passionate affair with NAND flash memory, which it uses for storage across all of its mobile devices and in its computer SSDs.

I. Apple Pulls an OCZ

Now Apple is reportedly in talks to absorb a major part of its flash supply chain, and is reportedly in talks to purchase Israeli flash memory fabless chipmaker Anobit.

Anobit is a small firm founded in 2006 in Herzeliya Pituach -- an affluent beach-side district on central Israel's Mediterranean coast.  Today the company operates subsidiaries in the U.S. and South Korea.  Its core business is the tiny chips that allow super-fast, reliable access to flash memory, flash memory controllers.

Apple already licenses Anobit's controllers for use in its iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air.  

Anobit wide

A good flash controller is incredibly valuable to SSD makers or companies who use flash components in their devices.  Just ask OCZ Technology Group Inc. (OCZ), whose SSDs have been dominating the enthusiast market, thanks to their slick Indilinx controller, which suffers little of the bugginess of LSI Corp. (LSI) subsidiary SandForce's controllers.

OCZ apparently found the South Korean controller maker Indilinx so invaluable that it bought it (and its 20 patents) for $32M USD in stock. This purchase was followed in turn by LSI's $322M USD acquisition of SandForce, a deal driven by SandForce's broad market base, which offset its poor controller stability.

Now Apple is expected to follow in suit, potentially folding in Anobit to prevent competitors from gaining access to its technology.  News of the deal broke [translated] from the the Israeli publication Calcalist.

Reportedly the acquisition price could hit as high as $400M-$500M USD, a boon for Anobit investors, who have thus far poured $97M USD in venture capital into the startup.  The acquisition would also grant Apple control of Anobit's 21 patents (and the 74 more currently in the submissions process).

II. Longevity, Performance Differentiate Anobit's Mobile, Enterprise Controllers

Thus far Apple's only past hardware acquisitons have been slightly smaller -- a $278M USD purchase of PA Semi in 2008, and a $121M USD purchase of Intrinsity in 2010.  If the purchase of Anobit proceeds, it would be the first major acquisition in the young tenure of new CEO Tim Cook.

Anobit has a very valuable specialty, which could drive Apple to make the purchase.  Reportedly, its technology for detecting "bad" memory cells in MLC (multi-level cell) flash memory is the best in the industry.  That allows cheap MLC to replicate the typically far-better endurance of expensive SLC (single-level cell) flash.  Long-term longevity is still a concern for flash drives, so this is a very valuable technology.

That comes in handy for Anobit's enterprise offerings, which promise "4 Terabytes write per day for 5 years".  With Apple increasingly deploying storage-heavy large-scale data centers to support technologies like the iCloud, this could come in handy.  If the reliability issues could be removed, Apple could switch its servers over to using solid state drives (flash prices allowing) removing one more piece of the latency equation for its cloud users.

iCloud plus Anobit
Anobit's enterprise-ready SSD controllers could give a boost to Apple's iCloud.

The core specs on Anobit's embedded controller (used in the aforementioned MacBook Air, iPad, and iPhone) are pretty sweet to:
  • 666 MB/s data transfers
  • Works with up to 256 GB / 16 dies of NAND
  • "Ultra low" power consumption
  • Support for 20nm and sub-20nm NAND
  • Dual host interface (provides faster data piping to the rest of the system)
Anobit claims its controller is the "highest performance" tablet or smartphone flash storage controller.  We're sure some other companies would disagree with that assessment, but it's at least safe to say that Anobit is no performance slouch.

Anobit is a fabless firm, which means it lacks chip production capacity of its own, instead paying third parties chip fabricators like GlobalFoundries Inc. to actually put its proprietary designs onto chips.

We'll keep you updated if Apple goes through with its reported plan to fold in this crucial piece of its flash supply chain.

Sources: Calcalist [Translated from Hebrew], TechCrunch

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RE: Oh goodie!
By ApfDaMan on 12/13/2011 1:06:13 PM , Rating: 2
As much as I hate Apple with every fibre of my being, I don't think so... I think Jobs just had this eternal, unfathomable hatred for Android, and Apple are trying to carry on his legacy.

But if it did start happening I wouldn't be surprised.

RE: Oh goodie!
By name99 on 12/13/11, Rating: -1
RE: Oh goodie!
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/13/2011 3:38:31 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, if it was actually blatantly copied, that would matter. But since it's not, well, it's not.

RE: Oh goodie!
By ICBM on 12/13/2011 3:52:15 PM , Rating: 2
By this logic shouldn't he have hated KDE since they had an OS X like setting?

RE: Oh goodie!
By Reclaimer77 on 12/13/2011 4:25:34 PM , Rating: 1
Android started off as a Blackbery clone.

There is and never has been an "Android" made phone. Just fyi. Do you mean Samsung?

RE: Oh goodie!
By DeluxeTea on 12/13/2011 8:42:32 PM , Rating: 2
Feel free to live in Steve Jobs' RDF. The real world may be too much for you to handle. ;)

RE: Oh goodie!
By TakinYourPoints on 12/13/11, Rating: -1
RE: Oh goodie!
By Reclaimer77 on 12/14/2011 12:16:50 AM , Rating: 2
It's ancient history now. Sorry Apple, but it's time to compete openly and let the consumer choose. Apple can't be granted a monopoly on mobile devices based on such vague concepts as style and shape. "Styling" is a subjective measure and NOT something the patent system was meant to guarantee. Same thing for "looks".

Also it's really getting annoying how you Apple fanbois keep confusing Android with the phone makers. Google does NOT design the handsets or build them. The "copy cat" HTC phone in the link of yours was designed and built by HTC, NOT Google. Why is this so hard to understand? Google isn't selling phones, they only sell Android!

But anyway I think it's time you stop being that guy, you know the one who still argues the 30 year old Xerox vs. MS vs Apple GUI argument, and realize the world has moved on. It doesn't matter anymore who came out with what first. Just deal with it.

RE: Oh goodie!
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/14/2011 8:17:18 AM , Rating: 4
It's pretty sad that you are basing an OS on the looks of the actual PHONE . Android is the OS in case you didn't know.

RE: Oh goodie!
By retrospooty on 12/14/2011 9:49:16 AM , Rating: 2
"Ah yes, pesky reality"

I love how you Apple fans think Apple has any case in its assertion that it is being copied.

Apple copied Palm/Handspring far FAR FAR more than any other phone or tablet maker ever copied Apple. For them to cry foul is just ridiculous and you know it. IF you didnt realize that, you need to do so now.

I am not taking any credit away from Apple, they made smartphones fun to use and advanced the platform in great ways. For that, we all thank them, but to claim their designs are being copied is just hypocritical.

RE: Oh goodie!
By Piiman on 12/14/2011 6:20:38 PM , Rating: 1
its a prototype and there were other that looked more like iPhones. And really SO WHAT! it happens every day. Did you notice we have many different car manufactures that all make cars with 4 wheels? There is NOTHING new about other companies making similar competing products. Its just that SJ thinks he's is the only one allowed to do it and as convinced the iSheep he is a God and no one should be able to make anything that God has stolen from someone else.

Do you ifanboys really think no one would ever make a touch screen phone to compete with the iPhone? That doesn't make it a copy and in case you don't know it that is what makes competition good for the consumer, (yes even for iSheep) or would you prefer to be buying your iPhone for $2000.00. Get over it SJ stole ideas just like everyone else nothing new here other than Steve Jobs ego.

RE: Oh goodie!
By ati666 on 12/14/2011 8:27:44 AM , Rating: 1
there is something fishy about your story name99.

and so what Android copied iOS, its a free market after all. We need competition or else there will be no innovation .

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh
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