Intel, Micron end collaboration on 3D XPoint NVM
The companies were closely aligned in the past and formed a joint venture wafer fab in Lehi, Utah, known as Intel Micron Flash Technologies (IMFT) in 2006. However they have been drawing apart recently. They announced a similar parting of the ways over the development of 3D-NAND flash memory early in 2018 (see Intel, Micron call time on 3D-NAND collaboration).
The two companies have not revealed any information about the materials or the switching mechanism used in their 3D XPoint NVM since it was launched in 2015 and came to market in 2017. Nonetheless it is widely considered to be based on chalcogenide phase-change memory technology, something never denied by the two parties.
Intel has made use of 3D Xpoint memories to introduce Optane solid-state drives (SSDs) for use in data centers in 2017. These SSDs have low latencies and greater endurance compared with SSDs based only on NAND flash memories.
The two companies said that technology development beyond the second generation of 3D XPoint would be pursued independently by the two companies so they could optimize the technology separately for their respective product and business needs. Manufacturing will continue to be done at the joint venture IMFT wafer fab.
“By developing 3D XPoint technology independently, Micron can better optimize the technology for our product roadmap while maximizing the benefits for our customers and shareholders,” said Scott DeBoer, executive vice president of technology development at Micron, in a statement.
“Intel has developed a leadership position delivering a broad portfolio of Optane products across client and data center markets with strong support from our customers,” said Rob Crooke, senior vice president and general manager of non-volatile memory solutions group at Intel, in the same statement.
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