Apple confirms acquisition of flash memory maker

Apple won't say how it plans to use Anobit's NAND flash memory technology

Apple today confirmed that it has acquired Anobit Technologies, an Israeli maker of solid state drives for data centers, according to the Reuters news service.

While Israeli news outlets have repeatedly stated that Apple had purchased Anobit for about $500 million, neither Apple nor Anobit would confirm the deal.

Apple would have to acknowledge the acquisition in its quarterly financial results to be released later this month. Reuters reported Wednesday that an Apple spokesperson did confirm the purchase but would not disclose its plans for Anobit.

Anobit uses consumer-grade NAND flash memory technology to make storage products for data centers.

"Yes ... we did buy Anobit," Apple spokesman Alan Hely said in an e-mail to Reuters. "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

Apple is the industry's largest consumer of NAND flash technology, so acquiring Anobit would give it a means of addressing reliability problems that arise as solid-state memory shrinks in size.

Apple already uses Anobit's flash technology in some of its products.

Anobit has produced two generations of Genesis SSD technology. The intellectual property that sets it apart from other SSD manufacturers is a controller that uses firmware it calls Memory Signal Processing (MSP), a type of ECC.

The MSP technology increases the signal-to-noise ratio, making it possible to continue reading data even as electrical interference rises.

The MSP controller technology also extends the endurance of standard consumer-grade multilevel cell (MLC) flash from about 3,000 write/erase cycles to more than 50,000 cycles -- making MLC technology suitable for heavy-duty cycle applications, such as relational databases.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment from Computerworld.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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