LSI To Acquire SandForce, Beef Up Storage IC Biz With Flash Controllers


Storage and networking semiconductor maker LSI this week unveiled plans to acquire SandForce, one of the top developers of processors for controlling Flash memory in solid state drives, PCIe cache devices, and similar products.

The acquisition for $322 million cash, is expected to close early next year subject to federal review, said Gary Smerdon, vice president and general manager for LSI's Accelerated Solutions Division.

LSI and SandForce are no strangers to each other. LSI has been a strategic investor in SandForce since 2009, and uses the SandForce controllers as part of the LSI WarpDrive, a PCIe solid-state storage card aimed at accelerating application performance in industry-standard servers.

LSI currently offers a complete family of storage-related semiconductors, including processors for hard drives, RAID, custom controllers, and its WarpDrive products, Smerdon.

"We have a complete family of products in our portfolio, with one missing piece: Flash storage processors," he said.

Once the acquisition closes, LSI will have brought over all 185 employees of SandForce into a new business unit that will focus on developing products for existing customers and targeting new customers, Smerdon said.

However, that task should be easier than in the past given the market reach of LSI, he said. "Now they'll have the LSI umbrella," he said. "With some customers, SandForce was considered a startup. So this acquisition is important for customers."

It is also important for LSI's own WarpDrive Flash storage-based cache device.

"This is a big plus for us," he said. "This acquisition will allow us to better articulate our differentiators because we will own the technology, and can take the technology up a notch or two by having it in-house."

LSI is not the first this year to acquire a Flash storage controller company. SSD maker OCZ this March acquired Indilinx.

And, in a turnaround form of acquisition, SSD controller maker SanDisk this Summer acquired SSD maker Pliant Technology.