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Intel hopes for SSD boost in memory asset sale to Micron

Intel is selling its stake in two wafer factories to its joint-venture partner

Micron Technology has bought out Intel's stake in two wafer factories that are part of a NAND joint venture between the two companies in a move they said will expand the supply of flash memory.

Intel has sold its stake the factories in Singapore and Manassas, Virginia, to Micron for about US$600 million. Intel will receive half the amount in cash, while the rest will be deposited with Micron and be applied toward future purchases.

The deal liquidates Intel's share in IM Flash Singapore, which was one of the two memory joint ventures with Micron. Intel's stake in the other joint venture, IM Flash Technologies, will remain at 49 percent, while Micron will retain 51 percent. IMFT was established in early 2006.

Micron will supply NAND chips to Intel as part of the deal. Intel sells solid-state drives and also uses flash memory in servers and consumer-related products.

Intel will retain its share in a plant in Lehi, Utah, which is part of the IMFT joint venture. The facility produces the 20-nanometer NAND flash memory, and Intel and Micron last year announced mass production of 64Gb NAND flash using the advanced process. The companies also showed off a 128Gb chip that can store 1 terabit of data in a fingertip-sized package.

In addition to NAND flash, Micron also makes DRAM and NOR flash. Micron was the third-largest NAND flash maker behind Samsung and Toshiba at the end of 2011, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli.

It's been a busy month for Micron. The company in early February appointed Mark Durcan as CEO, quickly replacing former CEO Steve Appleton who died in a plane crash. The company also tried to differentiate itself in the struggling DRAM market by launching low-power 2Gb and 4Gb DDR memory modules for ultrabooks.

The sale of the wafer factories is expected to close in the first half of this year, the companies said.


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