Again in March of this yr, Micron introduced that it might be getting out of the 3D XPoint enterprise completely, abandoning the expertise and placing its sole 3D XPoint fab up on the market. Now a brief few months later, Micron has secured a purchaser for the fab – and it’s not Intel. Slightly will probably be Texas Devices who picks up the fab, shopping for it off of Micron for $900 million with plans to transform it over to analog and embedded processors.
The sale of the Lehi fab is the newest and closing chapter in Micron’s years-long efforts to unwind its non-volatile reminiscence three way partnership with Intel, IM Flash. Over the past decade Micron has acquired Intel’s share of the enterprise in a number of phases, culminating in buying the crown jewel of the previous partnership, the Lehi, Utah 3D XPoint fab, in 2018. Since then, Micron determined that it might dissolve its 3D XPoint partnership with Intel completely, culminating with the corporate abandoning the expertise completely, leaving Micron with a contemporary fab that it didn’t have a right away want for.
To that finish, Micron put the fab up on the market earlier this yr, and has shortly discovered a purchaser amidst the continued chip crunch. And whereas former companion (and present buyer) Intel was the most definitely candidate, they weren’t a shoe-in. As our personal Billy Tallis put it on the time “Intel isn’t assured to be the client of the Lehi, UT fab. They’ve likely had alternatives to take action earlier than as Intel and Micron unwound their partnership”.
As a substitute, the reminiscence fab shall be going to Texas Devices, who’s shopping for the constructing – however not all the instruments. Although designed for 3D XPoint manufacturing, the Lehi fab is in any other case a contemporary, 2 million sq. foot fab that may course of 300mm wafers and is quickly able to being transformed to different makes use of; and that is the route TI shall be taking issues. The corporate is at the moment planning to equip the fab for the manufacturing of analog and embedded processors on the 65nm and 45nm nodes, with the flexibility to take the fab “past these nodes as required.” For Texas Devices this shall be their fourth 300mm fab.
In the meantime the remaining reminiscence instruments that TI isn’t shopping for shall be additional property for Micron, who shall be conserving a few of them and promoting the remainder. In response to the corporate’s press launch, a few of these instruments are getting redeployed to different Micron fabs, some have been offered, and but different instruments are nonetheless up on the market. Micron doesn’t point out who the instrument consumers are, however given the specialised nature of the gear, it wouldn’t be too shocking if Intel have been amongst them. Total, Micron is valuing the instruments at $600 million, bringing the full worth of the transaction to a cool $1.5 billion.
The sale is anticipated to shut on the finish of the yr, at which level TI shall be placing out provides to retain all the Lehi workers because the fab will get transformed over to TI’s analog and logic processes.
Lastly, for the only real firm to really use 3D XPoint reminiscence, the sale of the Lehi leaves in query Intel’s personal 3D XPoint manufacturing plans. Having offered their share of the fab to Micron, Intel transitioned to being a buyer of the world’s solely 3D XPoint fab in late 2019 – an association that left the fab working within the crimson for Micron, as Intel’s 3D XPoint orders weren’t sufficient to completely make the most of the fab. IM Flash collectively developed Intel’s present (second-generation) 3D XPoint reminiscence expertise as effectively, and it’s believed that the Lehi fab has been producing all of that reminiscence for Intel.
So it stays to be seen simply how Intel shall be impacted, because the sale places a operating clock on how for much longer they’ll purchase 3D XPoint reminiscence from the third-party fab. Finally Intel might want to setup their very own fab – doubtless in Rio Rancho, NM, the place their 3D XPoint R&D takes place – however thus far the corporate hasn’t introduced any such plans.
Sources: Texas Devices, Micron