December 20, 2011, 1:21 PM — Apple has purchased solid-state drive (SSD) maker Anobit, an Israeli start-up that makes storage products for data center use out of consumer-grade NAND flash memory.
According to the Israeli newspaper Calcalist.com , Apple paid about $500 million to purchase the private company.
According to published reports, Anobit's executives gathered employees at its Herzliya headquarters to inform them of the completion of the Apple deal.
Apple already uses Anobit's flash chip technology in the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air laptops. According to reports, Apple would use Anobit's technology to increase the flash memory in its devices, as the cost to produce it would be significantly lower than purchasing it from a third-party provider.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted about the deal stating, "Welcome to Israel, Apple Inc. on your first acquisition here. I'm certain that you'll benefit from the fruit of the Israeli knowledge."
Neither Anobit, nor Apple would immediately confirm the acquisition.
Anobit has produced two generations of its Genesis SSD technology . The intellectual property that sets it apart from other SSD manufacturers is its controller, which uses firmware it calls Memory Signal Processing (MSP).
The controller technology extends the endurance of standard consumer-grade multi-level cell flash from about 3,000 write/erase cycles to more than 50,000 cycles -- making MLC technology suitable for high-duty cycle applications such as relational databases.
"You're either using a more advanced controller with consumer grade NAND or your leveraging enterprise-class NAND. Anobit's approach is to use the cheapest NAND they can find and then use their more advanced controller technology," said Jeff Janukowicz, a research director at IDC.
Anobit is not alone among SSD processor makers who can extend MLC NAND's reliability. For example, Sandforce makes a processor that uses data compression and RAID architecture to get around the limitations of MLC.
Sandforce uses 24-bit/512-byte error correction code in its flash controllers to extend the life of MLC-based SSDs. "However, the fundamental issue is that the signal quality is declining, and Anobit's technology helps to get a 'cleaner' signal," said Gregory Wong, an analyst with Forward Insights.
Anobit's Genesis 2 T-Series SSD