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Apple May Spend Half a Billion on Israeli Flash Startup

Apple already uses Anobit's flash memory in many of its devices-and, a report says, is willing to spend up to $500 million for the company.
By TechIsrael Staff
First Publish: 12/13/2011, 8:57 PM

Anobit Genesis-S Series SAS SSD
Anobit Genesis-S Series SAS SSD
Business Wire

Israel is about to find itself in the thick of the fierce competition between Apple and the companies that make Android-platform smartphones – and specifically Samsung.

According to a report in Calcalist, Apple is interested in spending between $400 and $500 million for Israeli startup Anobit, a maker of improved flash memory for cellphones and portable devices. According to Calcalist, Anobit chips are already integrated into Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air – and on Samsung devices as well.

The purchase, if it comes about, would grant Apple exclusivity to Anobit's products, cutting off a supply of sophisticated flash memory for Samsung, probably setting back Samsung's release of new devices while the company seeks new suppliers.

And replacing Anobit might not be so easy. While there are plenty of flash memory manufacturers, very few, if any, have enhanced the product the way Anobit has. Anobit has developed and patented a technology called Memory Signal Processing, which, according to the company, greatly enhances endurance of the flash memory chips that are at the heart of the storage systems of devices today.

Besides endurance, the technology also lowers production costs, the company says; Anobit's MSP technology enabling SLC (one bit-per-cell) endurance and performance with MLC (two bits-per-cell) NAND, and MLC endurance and performance with TLC (three bits-per-cell) NAND, resulting in a significant reduction in cost-per-bit.

Among the innovative products Anobit has come out with lately is a solid state hard drive (SSD) that comes in various configurations up to 400 GB. The lower production costs made possible by Anobit MSP allows the company to sell its branded Genesis SSDs for significantly less than those made by other companies – and it lasts longer too, supporting user data writes of 10 times the drive capacity per day for 5 years.

Anobit announced today  that it had shipped more than 20 million of its MSP-based high-performance embedded flash controllers for smartphones, tablets and media players in just the first half of 2011. Many of those controllers are now in the new models of Apple's iPhone, the 4s, which has proven to be extremely popular and is likely to boost sales for Anobit significantly during the second half of the year.

"For too long, the high prices of SLC SSDs and concerns about MLC SSD endurance have slowed the adoption of flash memory storage in the enterprise. Anobit Genesis SSDs effectively neutralize both of these concerns," said Prof. Ehud Weinstein, Anobit CEO. "By delivering true enterprise-class SSD reliability at affordable MLC SSD prices, Anobit Genesis SSDs unlock the full promise of solid-state enterprise storage."

Apparently, Apple has unlocked the promise of Anobit's mobile flash products – and wants to make it its own, for a cool half billion!