Israel's flash memory companies have not been forgotten. One of the more prominent of them, Anobit Ltd. yesterday showed proof of its potential. Intel Capital led a $32 million financing round in the company, bring the total amount raised by the company to over $70 million.
,Anobit was founded in 2006. It develops technology for the control and management of NAND flash memory processors, which do not erase data when electricity is cut, which are used for data storage. Large amounts of information are stored by computer and telecommunications devices, such as smartphones, for private customers.
Several of Israel's top high-tech entrepreneurs are behind Anobit: chairman and CEO Prof. Ehud Weinstein; president Ariel Maislos; and Ofir Shalvi. In addition to Intel Capital, investors include Pitango Venture Capital, Battery Ventures, and strategic investors.
Weinstein, Maislos, and Shalvi have been involved in a long line of semiconductor and telecommunications companies. They include Libit Signal Processing, which was sold to Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN) for $365 million in 1999; and Passave, which was sold to PMC Sierra Inc. (Nasdaq: PMCS) for $300 million in 2006.
Most of Anobit's 140 employees came from Libit and Passave, as well as from flash memory developers Intel Corporation (Nasdaq: INTC), SanDisk Corporation (Nasdaq:SNDK), and Saifun Semiconductor (now part of Spansion Inc. (PinkSheets: SPSNQ)).
Anobit announced the financing round at the Intel Capital CEO Summit in Silicon Valley. At the summit, Intel Capital announced $77 million in investments in 18 companies.
Intel Capital is not an ordinary corporate venture capital fund. Its investments strongly emphasize the financial side; in other words, it intends to make a large return on the investment, and some of the investments announced yesterday include companies that operate in technology fields remote from Intel's business.
Anobit's technology, however, has a very clear interface with Intel, emphasizing the strategic aspect of the investment. Six months ago, Anobit launched a SSD flash memory product line, based on NAND flash memory, which are designed to replace the magnetic hard drive currently used for the memory infrastructure of PCs, servers, and storage systems. In the not-too-distant future, when storage will be mostly based on NAND flash memory, analysts believe that the connection between Intel processors and Anobit flash memory technology will give Intel's products a competitive edge.
The problem with SSD solutions is their price, which is relatively high per bit of memory, although the solution provides faster access. The technology experience of Anobit's founders is not in memory, but in signal processing. Anobit has applied this know-how to create algorithms to correct errors in memory. These algorithms are integrated into the devices' command and control systems, providing greater compression of memory onto cells and maintaining their reliability.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 17, 2010
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