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Intel gets cold feet on Micron partnership

Intel appears to be getting cold feet about its partnership with Micron on memory technologies, with the latter company announcing that it is ramping up production in its joint Singapore fab with no support from Intel.

The revelation came during Micron's most recent earnings call with analysts, during which chief executive Steve Appleton claimed: "Intel is currently not participating with the CapEx [Capital Expenditure] in IMFS [Intel-Micron Flash Singapore]. We actually are pretty comfortable with that. Number one, we already have that in our financial models making assumption they are not going to participate. Secondly, we could really use the output for service center customers."

While Appleton seems upbeat about the lack of interest from Intel, pointing out - quite rightly - that it means that Micron will reap all the benefits of increased output from the joint fab, it certainly doesn't fit in with the spirit of the Intel-Micron Flash Technologies joint venture.

During the same call, Micron chief operating officer Mark Durcan confirmed his company's plans to transition IMFS to a 20nm manufacturing process by the middle of next year, offering lower-power memory components that offer improved performance over the company's current 25nm output. Again, it's thought that Micron will be putting up the money to re-tool its joint fab to the new process size, with Intel sitting back and allowing its joint venture partner to take the risks.

Intel currently holds a 29 per cent stake in the overall IMFT joint venture, but if capital expenditure keeps coming from Micron it will see that share decline - which could leave it grasping for capacity if sales of Intel solid-state drives (SSDs) take off in the near future.