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Solidigm CEO: Spinning Out Of Intel To SK Hynix ‘Gives Us The Greater Scale We Need’

‘We’re working on back-end manufacturing capability with the agility to figure out where we want to do the assembly of the SSDs. We have wafer supply coming out of China, and we’ll have wafer supply, a different technology, coming out of Korea. ... We work very closely with the governments to make sure we fully understand what we need to do and are maximizing the supply we can get for our customers,’ says Solidigm CEO Rob Crooke.

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New Year, New Beginning

Intel ended the year 2021 with a bang. The company on Dec. 29 unveiled a two-phase plan to sell its SSD business and certain NAND SSD-associated intellectual properties, as well as its Dalian, China-based NAND memory manufacturing facility, to South Korea-based semiconductor manufacturer SK Hynix, in a deal worth $7 billion. That includes the creation of a new company, Solidigm, owned by SK Hynix. The Korean company is also slated to pay Intel an additional $2 billion after it acquires Intel’s remaining NAND business assets in 2025.

For Intel, the move comes at an interesting time for the semiconductor business. Investment in semiconductor manufacturing is very, very expensive, and Intel is planning huge investments in U.S.-based semiconductor manufacturing. The company in January unveiled plans to invest over $20 billion to construct two new leading-edge chip factories in Ohio, in addition to $20 billion it plans to invest in two new fabs in Arizona.

Rob Crooke, CEO of Solidigm and a 10-year veteran of Intel’s memory business, told CRN that, while the memory business has been a profitable one for Intel, Intel realized that to get the scale needed to continue to serve customers’ growing memory and SSD requirements required a huge investment in scale, and the SK Hynix had the scale necessary.

“The creation of Solidigm, as a subsidiary of SK Hynix, gives us the greater scale we need. ... With the commitment of a growth memory-focused company like SK Hynix and backing of the even larger SK Group, we’re excited about building on what we built at Intel to build something even bigger,” Crooke said.

Crooke also talked with CRN about plans for the companies, supply chain issues, and the possible impact of U.S.-China trade tensions. For details, click through the slideshow.

Final note: Crooke told CRN how to pronounce “Solidigm.” It’s a combination of solid state and paradigm.

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