Yet another SSD controller maker has been assimilated. After OCZ snapped up Indilinx earlier this year, LSI has announced an agreement to buy SandForce. OCZ paid only $32 million for Indilinx back in March, and this SandForce deal is worth considerably more: $322 million in cash. LSI will also cover $48 million in unvested stock held by SandForce staffers.
LSI currently uses SandForce controllers in its WarpDrive PCI Express SSDs, and the acquisition was clearly made with the enterprise market in mind. The press release also mentions notebooks and specifically ultrabooks—as much as it seems silly to separate those two categories, the SSDs found in ultra-slim designs use much different form factors than the standard 2.5" drives that slot into the average notebook. Those 2.5-inchers also end up in desktop systems, although the press release doesn't mention that market specifically.
SandForce has quite a few high-profile drive partners, including Corsair, Kingston, OWC, and OCZ. With little name recognition in the consumer market, I would expect LSI to continue to supply those partners with controller chips. However, there could be some conflict with OCZ, which uses SandForce chips its own line of PCIe SSDs. Most of OCZ's PCIe offerings are much cheaper than the $8,500 asking price for a 300GB WarpDrive, but there's certainly potential for more direct competition, especially with PCI Express looking like the future of solid-state storage interfaces.
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