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: The whole stack
By retrospooty on 12/15/2011 7:37:50 AM , Rating: 2
"Hey retro, can you explain this thing to me? Why is cheesy singling out Apple like the other US companies are not tough with competitors and only Apple is the tough one? Do you understand this or are you as lost with cheesy's "logic" as me? "

Dont get me caught up in your convoluted logic, and you are the last person that should be insulting anyone else's reasoning skills (How's RIM workin out for ya?)

RE: The whole stack
By Pirks on 12/15/2011 2:58:47 PM , Rating: 1
Working out quite well, thank you, Playbook is still the best tablet, tried some Android HTC tablet yesterday in an AT&T store and Galaxy Tab 10.1 too - both still shitty and slow compared to QNX. Nothing new here retro, move along :)

RE: The whole stack
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/15/2011 4:28:44 PM , Rating: 1
Yes, to bad it's not selling well, and that RIM is a failing company as of now. Shitty and slow eh? Like your brain?

RE: The whole stack
By retrospooty on 12/15/2011 4:56:52 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, now stock has dropped to 1/10th its previous high. From 150 to 15 in 3 years. No problem at all because the palybook is the best tablet on the market. So good they can charge $499 for a 7 incher... Oh, wait. it was selling so badly they had to drop it to $199. ROFL.

RE: The whole stack
By Pirks on 12/15/2011 9:32:07 PM , Rating: 2
1. Revenue of $5.2 billion, up 24% from last quarter
2. BlackBerry smartphone shipments of 14.1 million, up 33% from Q2
3. Subscribers up 35% year-over-year to almost 75 million

Now you can keep trollin retro :)))

RE: The whole stack
By retrospooty on 12/16/2011 7:16:19 AM , Rating: 2
Great, keep on with the "pick and choose" facts. Its working wonders for Balsilie and Lazardis. Most noteworthy is revenue. Its absolutely tanking in a majorly bad way , yet, if you just look at 1 quarter, and only present that data, everything is fine. No problem here.

Still the same old song. Just like the Iraqi minister of communications, insisting they are winning the war and have beaten the US troops back to the border as US tanks roll by outside of his office.

RE: The whole stack
By retrospooty on 12/16/2011 7:32:12 AM , Rating: 2
Wow... I just took a look for fun. Rim's stock dumped another 10% overnight.

Earnings down 71%

Exactly as I predicted QNX that was already delayed from Q1 to "mid 2012" is now put off until late 2012. And that is early on. Expect more delays as the time gets closer.

Keep on fiddling Nero. Its working wonders for Balsilie and Lazardis.

RE: The whole stack
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/16/2011 9:23:57 AM , Rating: 2
Oh the irony....

After years of inferior product, sagging earnings, recent unexplained multiple continent outages and product delays, RIM executives this week capped off a disastrous 2011 with more bad news. The company shattered any hope of seriously competing with iOS and Android in 2012 with the news that their Blackberry 10 smartphones, originally slated for "early 2012" are delayed until late 2012 (read: 2013). The company also took an un-needed PR hit last week when two drunk executives were forced off a flight for being violently and ridiculously drunk. The reality-TV meets AOL level of total dysfunction has more than a few people wondering exactly how RIM co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie still have jobs.

RE: The whole stack
By retrospooty on 12/16/2011 10:17:10 AM , Rating: 2
It boggles me how long this is taking them.

IOS was intro's in early 2007 and released in June 2007. Even slow as molasses Palm came out with a competing offer 2 years later (WebOS) - and they are totally disfunctional. Its now been almost 5 years and RIM still has no Phone OS to match.

Beyond that, what is taking them so long with QNX. It WAS released on the playbook earlier this year in at least decent form. Its not getting great reviews, but it is a good OS with alot of promise. What is taking 1 1/2 years from Playbooks working QNX release to get it on a freegin phone? WTF!!! , by the time they release it, we may not be looking at IOS6 and Android 5 like I originally thought... We will be looking at IOS7 and Android 6.

RE: The whole stack
By Pirks on 12/15/2011 5:52:17 PM , Rating: 1
Hold it cheesy, hold it right there, otherwise you'll go too far by saying RIM doesn't sell 'cause it's shit and hence Apple sells so much stuff because their stuff is the best! Then you'll look like a total dumbo 'cause you also troll them all the time hehehe :) Wanna look like an idiot one more time eh cheesy?

RE: The whole stack
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/15/2011 10:41:49 PM , Rating: 2
Wanna look like an idiot one more time eh cheesy?
You look like an idiot enough for both of us, so I'll let you handle it since you are the master of it.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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