In a brief news release from Intel this afternoon, the chip firm has announced that it has closed on the first stage of its deal to sell its SSD business to SK hynix. As of today, SK hynix has now formally acquired the bulk of Intel’s NAND and SSD businesses, as well as the company’s NAND fab in Dalian, China. Intel will continue to hold a small stake until 2025, and in the meantime Intel’s former SSD assets have been spun-off into a new SK hynix subsidiary, Solidigm.

The Intel-SK hynix deal was first announced in October of 2020, with the two companies inking a deal to transfer over Intel’s NAND and SSD operations over to SK hynix over a several year timeframe. The deal, valued at $9 billion, would see Intel retain all of their Optane/3D XPoint technology and patents, while SK Hynix would receive all of Intel’s NAND-related business, including the Dalian NAND fab and Intel’s SSD business interests.

Now, with approval of the deal from all of the necessary regulatory bodies, the two companies have been able to close on the first part of the deal. The “first closing,” as Intel puts it, has transferred the Dalian fab as well as part of Intel’s SSD IP portfolio to SK hynix. Some employees are also being transferred – essentially all those who aren't working for the fab or are involved in R&D. In return, SK hynix has paid Intel the first $7 billion of the deal.

The rest of the deal is set to close in three and a half years from now, in or around March of 2025. From now until then, Intel will continue to use the Dalian fab to manufacture NAND wafers. To do so, Intel has held on to some of their NAND-related IP, their R&D employees, and the fab employees. All of those assets will then finally be transferred to SK hynix once the deal fully closes and SK hynix pays Intel the final $2 billion.

Finally, SK hynix is taking the Intel assets they’ve acquired thus far and placing them into a new spin-off company, Solidigm. The standalone subsidiary, whose name is apparently a play on “paradigm” and “solid state storage” has set up shop in San Jose, and is being run by former Intel Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group SVP and GM, Rob Crooke. Solidigm, in turn, has inherited Intel’s current NAND SSD product lineup; this includes Intel’s 660p and 670p client SSDs, as well as their D3/D5/D7 data center SSDs, which are now in the process of becoming Solidigm products.

Source: Intel

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  • regsEx - Sunday, January 2, 2022 - link

    Yeah, that's quite a large mistake Intel made.
  • mode_13h - Sunday, January 2, 2022 - link

    That depends on their ambitions for Optane. If they think they can somehow "save" Optane, while NAND is getting increasingly commoditfied (don't forget the looming prospect of China's impact on the NAND business), then it could be a sound strategy.
  • Samus - Monday, January 3, 2022 - link

    I don't think SK is after IP per se, they're after patents.
  • Samus - Monday, January 3, 2022 - link

    Not after IP meaning, I don't think they care much about Intel's tech. Maybe Optane, but in its current form, na.
  • mode_13h - Monday, January 3, 2022 - link

    That's an awful lot to pay for patents. It's even a lot to pay for their fab.

    Intel SSDs aren't that stand-out, which suggests Intel doesn't have a lot of unique technology. We know their cell designs aren't even the best in the industry. If SK Hynix simply needed some SSD patents, you'd think there'd be cheaper acquisition targets or even licensing deals they could arrange.
  • ABR - Friday, December 31, 2021 - link

    "The standalone subsidiary ... has setup shop ..." "Set up" (as one would speak it); "setup" is a noun.
  • Silver5urfer - Friday, December 31, 2021 - link

    Very unfortunate. Investor greed killed Intel inside out. They sabotaged with the lack of innovation and pressure during 10nm issues. And then they made BS mergers and all like Mobile Eye, and other junk ruining the CPU business. For SSD NAND Intel SLC and MLC drives used to have top class performance long back way before than Samsung started with 850. Unfortunately all that left is useless fat. They even axed 5G and gave it away for peanuts to that scum Apple corporation, which wanted to crush Qcomm by that monkey on top of a mountain Hock Tan of Avago Broadcom.

    Optane also dead for consumer, look at that P5800X, world's fastest, most durable, excellent technology breakthrough. It has 148PB of endurance compared to the 860 Pro 4TB MLC which is now very rare in the market's 4.8PB. And insanely high speed no BS SLC caching, no DRAM drama no nothing. Just blistering performance. Axed. 3DXP is dead Utah fab sold off, they say they have NM fab for Optane for Enterprise. Investor greed reducing the R&D innovation for this new Big.little copypaste half cooked garbage formula is pushed for so many generations because BGA thin and light use and throw garbage make a real load of money.

    I hope SKH does something good. Samsung also however dropped the MLC now. Shame how the lowest common denominator garbage gets the most green light.
  • JayNor - Friday, December 31, 2021 - link

    I believe we'll see Optane DIMMs moved to pcie5/cxl.mem in 2022 on Emerald Rapids, freeing up the DDR5 controller to move to higher data rate.
  • Oxford Guy - Saturday, January 1, 2022 - link

    WalMart and McDonald’s. Very often, success is a race to the bottom.
  • mode_13h - Sunday, January 2, 2022 - link

    > look at that P5800X ... compared to the 860 Pro 4TB MLC

    Don't compare an enterprise drive with a consumer model. There are higher-endurance enterprise NAND-based drives. You can find some of them reviewed here:

    > Investor greed reducing the R&D innovation

    Also, I think Gelsinger is doing a lot to spur new innovation at Intel, but it'll take years to know for sure. There were several other things they did which showed they're not without courage or commitment: scrapping Xeon Phi in favor of a more traditional GPU approach to HPC, cutting their losses on Nervana in favor of Habana, the Barefoot and Rivet Networks acquisitions, to name a few. It was also smart to bring on Jim Keller and invest in advanced packaging techniques, which are only starting to bear fruit.

    > Shame how the lowest common denominator garbage gets the most green light.

    Perf/GB wins the day. For most people, write caching provides just as good an experience as they'd get with a lower-density drive that doesn't use use a write cache, but at a lower cost. Your beloved Samsung is one of those who pioneered that technique.

    If you simply can't accept the performance compromises of write caching, you always have the option to buy a write-oriented enterprise drive.

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