Flash memory manufacturer SanDisk is betting heavily on the future of solid-state storage: the company has reached a deal to acquire solid-state drive maker Pliant for some $327 million in cash and equity-based incentives. Pliant makes high-performance SAS solid-state drives designed for enterprise and data center storage solutions, and is working on rolling out PCIe-based storage systems for high-performance servers. The move is strategic for SanDisk—while the company manufacturers flash memory for a wide variety of applications, the company has historically leaned towards consumer products and storage devices for portable devices like phones, cameras, and media players. Buying Pliant puts SanDisk in the enterprise and corporate markets.
“We believe that the combination of Pliant’s innovative technology and enterprise-level system expertise with SanDisk’s high-quality, large-scale MLC memory production is a winning value proposition for customers,” said SanDisk president and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra, in a statement. “Our advanced flash technology roadmap and flash management capability will complement Pliant’s strengths and allow us to lead the way in reliability and performance in the enterprise SSD market.”
Businesses and data centers are increasingly looking towards SSD storage for high reliability with lower power consumption than traditional hard drives. Although solid-state storage is still considerably more expensive than hard drives on a cost-per-gigabyte basis, the costs of flash memory are falling rapidly. Pliant has been a leader in developing multi-level cell (MLC) NAND solutions for enterprise systems—MLC technology enables each cell in flash memory to store more than one bit of information, increasing storage density, often at the cost of higher error rates. Pliant’s technology has been focused on low-error MLC flash storage.
SanDisk expects the deal to close by the end of its second fiscal quarter, subject to regulatory approval. The boards of both companies have already approved the deal.