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Micron Launches New Hard Drives

Idaho-based memory chipmaker Micron Technology confronted rival Intel on Thursday with a new line of hard drives targeted at data centers just as the two firms are on the cusp of formally ending a more than a decade-long joint venture that developed the technology.

Beginning in 2006, Micron and Intel partnered together to take the so-called 3D cross-point memory technology to market. To make them quicker, the technology uses three-dimensional characteristics on storage chips.

Micron said it would acquire Intel’s share of the joint venture, called IM Flash Technologies, for $1.5 billion (about Rs. 10,600 crores) a year later.

New chip hard drives are faster than previous solid-state drives. That caught the imagination of data center owners doing computer jobs such as deep learning, where artificial intelligence technology ingests vast amounts of data to learn new tasks.

Earlier this year, Intel released the second generation of its technology version. Micron is now moving into the market, seeing what a handful of customers are doing with it.

“This is just the very, very beginning,” Micron Chief Executive Sanjay Mehrotra told Reuters at a launch event in San Francisco. “These kinds of technologies do take multiple years before are they broadly deployed.”

Thursday, Micron unveiled their Intel rival, a machine that they named X100. The computer itself is a hard drive that can be connected directly to a database, and Micron says that it is faster than its competitor due in part to a piece of technology called a controller which takes instructions from the processing brain of the server on which information to read or write on the hard drive.

Micron has internally designed the controllers and hopes they can differentiate their goods in the memory industry, where patterns of supply and demand could cause dramatic price changes.

Mehrotra’s strategy since taking over as chief executive in 2017 has been to increase the number of storage products that include technologies beyond just commodity memory chips. About half of the company’s storage revenue now comes from such products, versus 20 percent when he arrived, he said.

“This is hugely attractive,” Mehrotra said of differentiating features. “We are making strong progress there.”

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