Micron-Lexar Duo Poses No Threat To SanDisk

As reported on Wednesday (March 8), in a bold entry into the flash-memory card, USB drive and other end-user markets, Micron said that it has acquired Lexar Media. The deal is valued at $688 million in stock.

The move propels Micron (Boise, Idaho) into the flash-card business and puts the memory chip maker in direct competition against SanDisk. It also pits Micron and its flash-memory partner, Intel Corp., up against the formidable team of San Disk and its fab partner, Toshiba Corp.

The move is seen as a net positive for Lexar (Fremont, Calif.). The deal propels the company out from being in a “difficult position” as a fabless supplier of NAND-based flash-memory cards, according to a new report from American Technology Research Corp.

Still, SanDisk has a big lead over the Lexar-Micron duo in terms of price and technology in the arena. “The Micron/Lexar combination is a follower in this market,” according to the report.

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“We do not believe the competitive landscape will change much since we believe SanDisk has a significant price advantage over Micron,” according to the report. “Even with Micron buying Lexar, we believe SanDisk will still maintain [a] a 40-50 percent share in the NAND flash card market.”

SanDisk, along with its fab partner, Toshiba, are making NAND-based, multi-level cell (MLC) flash memories at linewidth geometries down to 70-nm on 300-mm wafers. In 2007, the companies are expected to realize 40-to-50 percent of its sales on MLC products based on 55-nm technology.

In comparison, Micron is making single-level cell (SLC) NAND devices down to 90-nm on 200-mm wafers, according to the analyst.