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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: The whole stack
By Tony Swash on 12/15/2011 5:35:25 AM , Rating: 1
You know nothing about me except that we have different opinions about some consumer durables. That's all. Do people who disagree with you always upset you so much?


RE: The whole stack
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/15/2011 8:23:11 AM , Rating: 2
We all know you are an iTool loser. That's all we need to know.


RE: The whole stack
By Pirks on 12/15/2011 3:10:41 PM , Rating: 2
We know you are a dumb anti-Apple troll. That's all we need to know. You can't even counter Tony's arguments intelligently, you just swear at him. Grow up.


RE: The whole stack
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/15/2011 3:47:44 PM , Rating: 2
His responses are the SAME EVERYDAY , there is NO intelligence, and you certainly have none and that has been proven over and over. Yet, you still keep yapping your flap like you have something to contribute. Also, 99.9 percent of your posts are for, guess what? APPLE! You aren't liked here by ANYONE, the sheer amount of -1's should give you a clue of that. I swear, you and Tony both have some serious MENTAL issues.


RE: The whole stack
By Pirks on 12/15/2011 4:22:57 PM , Rating: 2
You can swear all you want but your unobjectivity shines here, the fact is that you only troll Apple and never troll any other US company that behaves the same speaks eveything about who you really are.


RE: The whole stack
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/15/2011 4:30:26 PM , Rating: 2
The fact is, and I told you this already, you don't have a CLUE what or what I don't do. And again, and I pointed out, 99.9 of your posts are on APPLE subjects, yet I am the troll. LOL!


RE: The whole stack
By spread on 12/16/2011 11:32:43 PM , Rating: 2
I know you're a loser who worships a shiny toy. Every time I read an article here, yup you're always talking about Apple.

You must put in so much time an effort into this. Don't lie. We know you do. You're like that Zune guy, remember him? Here:

http://media.photobucket.com/image/zune%20guy/OKSt...

You're like that but replace Zune with anything Apple. It's scary and I feel sorry for you. But you're not alone, there's many losers like you worshipping Apple. Not many people (except for Zune guy) will do the same for Microsoft because they realize that it's just a product. It's meant to be used for work.

But you don't. You're so passionate to the point where you troll these forums. I don't think I've ever seen an article without you commenting in some way or form about Apple.

I feel very very sorry for you. I pity you. It must suck living your life as a loser and your only source of passion and happiness is talking about Apple products and Apple Corporation.


"We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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