Apple is reportedly going to use part of its enormous pile of cash to buy an Israeli fabless semiconductor company that specializes in flash storage solutions. Calcalist reports – in Hebrew – that the world’s most valuable company is in talks to buy Herzliya Pituach, Israel-based Anobit for $400 million to $500 million.
If the report checks out, this would mark Apple’s first acquisition in Israel (and the first with Tim Cook at the helm as CEO), and also a rare occasion because the consumer electronics giant doesn’t usually buy non-software companies. The only hardware companies Apple is known to have acquired in the past two decades were Steve Jobs-founded NeXT, Raycer Graphics, Intrinsity and P.A. Semi.
Anobit provides flash storage solutions for enterprise and mobile markets, based on its proprietary MSP (which stands for ‘Memory Signal Processing’) technology. Its solutions are designed to improve the speed, endurance and performance of flash storage systems while driving down the cost.
Anobit’s technology is comprised of signal processing algorithms that compensate for physical limitations of NAND flash, the company claims.
Anobit does not publish a list of customers or references, but says its clients are among the world’s leading flash manufacturers, consumer electronics vendors and storage system providers.
According to Calcalist reporter Assaf Gilad, Apple relies on the company’s solutions for the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air product lines, among other devices. South Korean Hynix is said to use Anobit’s solution for a flash memory chip you can find inside the iPhone 4S.
Anobit says it has 21 granted patents (and 95 in total). The company has raised $76 million from Battery Ventures, Pitango Venture Capital and strategic investors, including Intel Capital.
Apple is likely interested in Anobit for its MSP-powered MSP20xx embedded flash controllers for smartphones and tablet computers, which can significantly boost memory performance. Last August, Anobit announced that it had shipped a remarkable 20 million of said flash controllers.
Anobit was founded in 2006 and is led by co-founder, chairman and CEO Prof. Ehud Weinstein. Prior to co-founding Anobit, Prof. Weinstein was a co-founder and CEO of Libit Signal Processing, which was acquired by Texas Instruments in 1999.
Anobit co-founder and president Ariel Maislos was previously co-founder of Passave, which was acquired by PMC Sierra in 2006. The rest of the Israeli company’s management team members also have impressive resumes, which is certainly another argument in favor of an Apple acquisition.
Calcalist reports that Anobit employs roughly 200 people today.