Micron is following through with the next step in the breakup of their long alliance with Intel for storage technology. As announced last October, Micron is exercising their call option to buyout Intel's share of IM Flash Technologies, the joint venture in Lehi, UT where several generations of flash memory were developed and the current center of R&D and production for 3D XPoint memory.

The public acts of the Intel/Micron breakup began a year ago with the announcement that the two companies would no longer co-develop NAND flash memory, going their separate ways after the completion of R&D for their 96-layer design. The companies have for several years been manufacturing their own supplies of NAND flash each at their own fabs, and they have rather different priorities so that part of the split is neither surprising nor will it have a huge impact on the storage market in the short term. Several months later, they announced a similar split for 3D XPoint memory development. With 3D XPoint R&D for the two companies set to diverge, it is natural that they would not continue to share the IMFT fab. Since IMFT is the only place currently manufacturing 3D XPoint, Micron's buyout of Intel's 49% stake in IMFT will likely force Intel to buy 3D XPoint memory from Micron until Intel can spin up production elsewhere.

Intel and Micron are expecting to wrap up development of their second generation of 3D XPoint memory in the first half of this year. Neither company has provided any updates on this recently, and Intel has continued to announce new Optane products using their first-generation 3D XPoint. Micron has yet to publicly announce any 3D XPoint products, though they have announced that such products will be under their QuantX brand.

Though their intentions have been public for months, Micron could not actually exercise their call option until the beginning of 2019. Intel now has the option of postponing the closing of Micron's purchase for up to one year from today, and Micron doesn't expect the deal to be finalized for at least six months. Micron expects to pay about $1.5 billion for Intel's stake in IMFT. Intel has issued a statement reiterating their earlier statement that today's action from Micron was expected and that Intel has been planning for this for some time. They have not yet disclosed when or where they expect to begin manufacturing 3D XPoint at one of their own fabs, but in the meantime Intel maintains that their plans to continue expanding the Optane product family will continue uninterrupted.

Source: Micron

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  • HStewart - Monday, January 14, 2019 - link

    It sounds like with all the enhancements in Intel labs, and Intel getting out Micron Lab, that Intel does not need this technology.

    I am expecting Intel to announce a new technology that is intended to replace 3D X Point and make it obsolete. Just a guess based on recent Intel announcements.

    But it sounds like Micron does not fit Intel future plans
  • Teckk - Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - link

    So, Intel spent years and $$ on something to make it obsolete after the 1st gen of the products itself? What happened to 3DXP DIMMs?
  • HStewart - Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - link

    Maybe the DIMMs use another process and not from Micron - if I was Intel - I would do that
  • Teckk - Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - link

    Who has the capability to manufacture 3DXP other than Intel and Micron?
  • deil - Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - link

    Well it was to slow to grow it, or to greedy to make anyone depend on it....
  • Lord of the Bored - Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - link

    Umm, I'm not sure how you get "Intel wants out of this fab" from "Micron exercises option to buy Intel's half of a partnership"

    This has nothing to do with Intel's designs. This is purely Micron's show here.
    Intel has the option to tell Micron to hold off until the year 2020. THAT is the extent of their influence on this decision.
  • HStewart - Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - link

    Basically for news about Intel investing in new - Intel is removing the Fat in its process - in this case Micron stuff.
  • Yojimbo - Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - link

    But Intel had no choice one way or the other. It was Micron's choice.
  • edzieba - Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - link

    Or they'll use the several years (the writing was likely on the wall some time ago) head start + $1.5bn bonus to spin up another line for 3D XPoint. Intel are selling every die IMFT produce, while Micron... aren't. Can'tthink of a good reason to just abandon all the work put into the Chalcogenide process right as the entire industry is beating its head against the Silicon ceiling.
  • HStewart - Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - link

    All I saying is Intel does not need Micron anymore - and they likely have a replacement coming.

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