Korean semiconductor fabricator SK Hynix has announced a deal to acquire California’s Link_A_Media Devices.
Hynix manufactures NAND flash memory for SSDs and mobile applications in addition to other memory and semiconductor products. Hynix is the second largest memory products manufacturer by revenue behind fellow Korean firm Samsung.
Back at Computex, Corsair announced announced a new line of high performance SATA III SSDs based on a new controller from Link_A_Media Devices (LAMD). Later, LAMD announced that it was offering turn key controller and firmware solutions to other manufacturers.
With the purchase of LAMD, Hynix now has the ability to offer SSD firms a package of Hynix flash paired with the LAMD controller and firmware for client applications. Owning a fab is a huge competitive advantage for Intel/Micron, Toshiba/SanDisk, and Samsung (which produces the largest amount of NAND, most of which is used in mobile devices). Hynix, the smallest NAND fabricator by volume, hasn’t really shown much interest in getting their own solid state drives off the ground. Presumably, the move to acquire a relatively new entrant in the controller game is a step toward getting complete Hynix solutions out for OEM system manufacturers and possibly even vertically integrated, Hynix-branded retail units.
Hynix announced a LSI SandForce 2281 powered drive only a few short days ago, but not much is actually known about it. While even Intel uses SF flash processors in some of their drives, Hynix may want to differentiate it’s future offerings by creating a completely integrated product like the Samsung 830. Samsung makes the 830’s controller, DRAM cache, NAND flash, and firmware.
Hynix is also one of the largest suppliers of DRAM, and their current OEM connections could help in paving the way for getting future Hynix SSDs in laptops/ultrabooks and desktops along with Hynix DRAM. Becoming a supplier for the OEM SSD market is difficult and time consuming, as larger companies like Dell have stringent validation and testing requirements. With LAMD in it’s portfolio, Hynix can now take the steps necessary to getting an integrated Hynix drive out quickly. Since global business acquisitions don’t happen overnight, the chances are good that Hynix already has prototype drives with the LM87800 controller from LAMD (or a variant) in testing now.
Hynix’s financial fortunes have been waning amids several consecutive quarterly losses. If Hynix can capitalize on the LAMD acquisition, it could have a way back to both profitability and higher visibility.
According to the Wall Street Journal, SK Hynix is paying $248 million for Link_A_Media Devices.