Intel invests $32M in Israeli SSD startup

Anobit Technology has so far raised $70 in first round funding; company plans to ship MLC flash-based SSD early next year

Intel's investment division Tuesday announced it has invested $32 million in Israeli start-up Anobit Technologies, whose MLC-flash based solid state drive (SSD) for enterprise data centers emerged from its development stage earlier this year.

Intel Capital's investment brings to $70 million the total funding Anobit has garnered since unveiled that MLC-based Genesis product in June.

Anobit called the multi-level cell (MLC) SSD, which it plans to ship soon, as reliable as today's higher-end and higher-cost single-level cell (SLC) enterprise-class flash drives.

Anobit claims that the Genesis SSDs uses special software to extend standard MLC endurance from about 3,000 to more than 50,000 write/erase cycles, an improvement of 20 times compared to average consumer-class drives. Thus the company's MLC technology is suitable for high-duty cycle applications such as relational databases, it added.

The Anobit SSDs come in 200GB and 400GB models with Serial ATA interfaces. By using an external bridge, the devices can use the serial-attached SCSI (SAS) or the Fibre Channel protocol. The drives have a sustained sequential read rate of 220MB/sec. and a sustained sequential write rate of 180MB/sec., according to Anobit.

"Anobit is well positioned to help change the economics of the NAND-based technology landscape with a critical enabling technology for a new generation of performance and memory-intensive computing systems," said Uri Arazy, director of Intel Capital Israel, in a statement. "This funding also reflects Intel's continued commitment to investing in the Israeli technology market."

Anobit has already signed agreements with the number one and number four makers of NAND flash memory memory -- Samsung and Hynix. Both Samsung and Hynix supply SSD technology to Apple, and Anobit's flash memory controllers are currently shipping in multi-million quantities within popular mobile devices, according to a spokesman.

Meanwhile, Anobit is working with enterprise storage array vendors to qualify and bring to market its Genesis enterprise SSDs sometime in the first quarter of 2011. This activity affirms what many in the IT infrastructure community have known since EMC introduced SSDs to its storage arrays in 2008: The future of enterprise storage is solid-state. "This funding will help accelerate the expansion of Anobit's core business operations and enable the company to meet surging demand for its technology and products, used today by world leading NAND flash manufacturers, consumer electronics vendors and storage solution providers," Ehud Weinstein, Anobit's CEO, said in a statement.

Gregory Wong, an analyst at research firm Forward Insights, said that Anobit is not alone among SSD processor makers in producing technologies to extend MLC NAND's reliability. For example, Sandforce makes a processor that uses data compression and RAID architecture to get around the limitations of MLC, he added.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian , or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com .

Read more about storage in Computerworld's Storage Topic Center.

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