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Micron is buying out Intel's share of their joint Optane fab

By Koh Wanzi - on 16 Jan 2019, 12:07pm

Micron is buying out Intel's share of their joint Optane fab

IM Flash Technologies

Micron is going ahead with the next step of its break up with Intel. The two companies have shared a long alliance on storage technology, but they are now going their separate ways. Last October, Micron announced that it would exercise its right to buy out Intel's share of IM Flash Technologies, a joint venture in Utah that is currently the center of R&D and production for 3D XPoint memory. 

Fissures began to appear in their alliance a year ago when they announced that they would no longer co-develop NAND flash memory, after several years of manufacturing their own NAND flash at their own fabs. The two also announced later that they would split on 3D XPoint memory development, so it only makes sense that they wouldn't continue to share the IMFT fab in the long run. 

However, IMFT is currently the only place that manufactures 3D XPoint, so Micron's buyout of Intel's 49 per cent stake, or roughly US$1.5 billion, in the fab will mean that Intel may have to buy the memory from Micron until it can start production somewhere else. That said, it has the option to put off the sale for up to one year. 

Intel markets its 3D Xpoint memory as Optane, while Micron has dubbed its version QuantX. However, the latter has never actually brought products to market. The two will still complete work on the second-generation of Optane to be completed this year, after which they will pursue their own plans for the technology. 

Elsewhere, in a likely unrelated move, Intel is also discontinuing its Core+ branding, which encompasses processors or devices that come bundled with Optane memory, citing a lack of demand. Intel also released its own statement stressing that Micron's move was not a surprise, and that it intends to continue expanding the Optane product family.

Source: Micron

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