Samsung Electronics and Toshiba Corp., two of the world’s largest suppliers of NAND flash memory, said on Monday that they have licensed to one another the rights to produce, market and sell memory with the specifications and trademarks of Samsung’s OneNAND and Toshiba’s LBA-NAND memory chips. As a result, both companies will be able to serve each other’s customers.
A direct effect of the reciprocal arrangement, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will have a broader choice of suppliers for each premium memory chip, thereby reducing any potential risk of over-dependence on a single supplier for any of the selected chips. The arrangement is expected to result in increased availability of premium-performance OneNAND and LBA-NAND flash devices worldwide.
The move also poses some danger to those companies, who back so-called ONFI (open NAND flash interface), namely Intel Corp. and its allies Hynix Semiconductor, Micron Technology, Phison Electronics Corp. and Sony Corp., as it will become harder for them to expand by signing contracts with Samsung’s and Toshiba’s clients and persuade them that dependency on a single flash memory supplier is a risk.
Under terms of the agreement, Samsung will license product specifications of its integrated OneNAND and Flex-OneNAND “fusion” memory chips to Toshiba, while Toshiba will license product specifications of its single-package LBA-NAND and mobileLBA-NAND flash chips to Samsung. Both companies will develop and market products that are compatible with the respective original-source technology. Samsung and Toshiba each plan to release products next year based on the respectively licensed product specifications.
Samsung’s OneNAND and Flex OneNAND are fusion memories that integrate a NAND core, SRAM, error correcting engines, and logic circuits in a single chip with a NOR interface. Flex-OneNAND’s capability of partitioning SLC and MLC allows it to provide a highly flexible and cost-effective flash storage solution for consumer electronics and other applications. By providing optimized software along with OneNAND, Samsung can help users easily design OneNAND into their platforms for high performance while reducing total development time.
Toshiba’s LBA-NAND and mobileLBA-NAND are non-volatile memories that integrate a controller and NAND flash memory in a single package. Pin assignment and the command sequence are compatible with conventional NAND flash memories, but logical address access methods are utilized. LBA-NAND is designed for use in mobile consumer products, such as digital audio players and personal media players, and mobileLBA-NAND are for mobile phones. Both support developers in minimizing development costs and shortening development times for new and upgraded products.