What Next for 3D XPoint? Micron to Buy Intel's Share in 3D XPoint Fab
Micron on Thursday announced plans to acquire Intel’s stake in IM Flash Technologies, a joint venture between the two companies. IM Flash owns a fab near Lehi, Utah, which is the only producer of 3DXPoint memory that Intel uses for its premium Optane-branded solid-state storage products. Once the transaction is completed, Intel will have to ink a supply agreement with Micron to get 3D XPoint memory after the current agreement finishes at the end of 2019. This will have important ramifications for Intel's 3D XPoint-based portfolio.
Under the terms of the joint venture agreement between Intel and Micron signed in 2005, the latter controls 51% of company and has a right to acquire the remaining share under certain conditions. Intel already sold Micron its stakes in IM Flash fabs in Singapore and Virginia back in 2012, which left IM Flash with only one production facility near Lehi, Utah (pictured below).
Early this year the two companies decided to fold their NAND flash R&D partnership, which made a jointly owned production facility somewhat useless for the long term as Intel and Micron were going to develop their own process technologies and memory devices going forward. Then in July the two companies announced plans to discontinue their joint development of non-volatile 3D XPoint memory after completing design of 2nd generation 3D XPoint, further dissolving any need in joint manufacturing operations in the mid-term future. As it turns out, Micron is set to exercise its right to call Intel's interest in IM Flash and buyout its stake for about $1.5 billion starting from January 1, 2019, the company said on Thursday.
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