We first met Indilinx in early 2009, with its Barefoot controller at the heart of OCZ's Vertex SSD. Until SandForce showed up in 2010 with the SF-1200/1500 series of controllers, the Indilinx Barefoot was the cheaper alternative to Intel. If it wasn't for Indilinx I'm not sure Intel would've had any real competition until last year. 

The OCZ/Indilinx relationship was always a close one, but it's about to get a lot closer. Today OCZ announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Indilinx Co., Ltd for ~$32M in OCZ shares. The deal is expected to close within 30 days.

Why would OCZ acquire Indilinx? To be honest, it's the only way to ensure growth in the future. While OCZ is currently the retail/channel face of SandForce, SF also happens to sell to all of OCZ's competitors. OCZ may get early access to SandForce hardware, but so could anyone else who shows up with a big enough check. Ultimately to stick around in this business OCZ needs to be able to build its own controller and that's what the Indilinx acquisition is designed to allow.

Indilinx was working on its first 6Gbps controller codenamed Jet Stream, however the design never surfaced. Delays do happen in chip design and I'm guessing Indilinx just couldn't make it happen with Jet Stream. 

What does this mean for SSDs today? Probably very little. OCZ will continue to ship SandForce based drives, however at some point I'm expecting to see an exclusive OCZ branded controller. While this move will likely guarantee OCZ's ability to differentiate amongst its smaller competitors, I'm not entirely convinced  it will be enough to compete with the likes of SandForce. We've even seen Intel struggle with that battle. 

Anything can happen though. Two years ago I didn't expect anyone other than Intel to dominate SSDs. A year ago it was SandForce. By this time next year anything could happen.

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  • Azethoth - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    Yes, vertical integration is good, but damn, this is a cut throat market to do it in. Even Intel slipped up and had to go with 3rd party this time around.
  • vol7ron - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    Yeah but $32M seems like a bargain. It's probably a fair price, the company was probably worth less, but the opportunity benefit is greater for OCZ.

    There are still many ways to improve SSD performance through both hardware and software. Personally, I'd first like to see a combination of Intel's wear leveling, with Sand Force's compression algorithm. If someone in the Open Source community would like to implement this, I would be willing to test it out :)

    I'd also like to see what kind of performance impacts higher rated DRAM would have on the throughput.
  • L. - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    "even intel slipped up"

    Now, let's be realistic here, Intel has not been at the peak of *PU research for a while (insert C, G, A, Whatever instead of the *).

    The only thing they did recently that actually made a difference was the core architecture (core 1 to core iX).

    On the general architecture side they copied everything from AMD (the FSB replacement, the integrated mem controller, the multi-core architectures, etc.) and added their core architecture in there (which I admit is really nice, my own cpu is still an old OC'd e6600).

    So CPU side, Intel took 3-5 years developping a new core (don't remember precisely, but between the first athlon and the first C2D, Intel was behind iirc) and did a good job.

    GPU side, Intel has yet to get a single success as they have never beaten nV or ATI (AMD) - and frankly if Voodoo was still on the market, even they would beat the intel chips.

    APU side, Intel sells i3 and i5 stuff that is completely underpowered GPU wise and will be rendered useless (but still sold) by AMD's Fusion (yes, AMD has access to real GPU's).

    On the chipset corner, as long as Intel chipsets battled Nvidia's, EVGA chose nVidia, that says everything imho.

    In the SSD market, Intel has no particular advantage over other companies on the research side (except having lots of moneyz) and as they have shown in the past their inability to do good research in many areas, SSD could just be another of these.

    That being said, the features appreciated on the SF controllers (or any, but I'm taking SF as it's damn decent for today) are going to become standard features very quickly, surely they'll be present in Intel's next controller, as well as Marvell's or Indilinx's (now OCZ).

    So yeah, Intel has money, but that doesn't put them in any good position until they buy the winner of the SSD contest, which might not be decided for another 5 years, when this "new" market settles.
  • Guspaz - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    Bringing up the P4 days isn't exactly evidence that Intel has "not been at the peak of *PU research for a while". Intel has utterly failed to break into the low-end market dominated by ARM, but their tick-tock cadence has led them to dominate the high-end and mid-range, and hold their own against AMD in the low-end.

    APU-wise, the current GPU in Sandy Bridge is faster than any other iGPU/APU on the market, and is on-par with low-end discrete GPUs. AMD hasn't put anything out that competes (yet), so they're not doing half badly. AMD will probably have something out there that can compete soon enough, but at the moment, Intel isn't doing half bad on that front.

    As for the SSD front, yeah, they misfired there. The 510 is a bit of a joke. It's decent, but it's not an Intel chip, and it's not using 25nm flash. It costs more and performs worse than the latest SF drives.
  • formulav8 - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    He is right about Intel copying AMD's cpu overall design.

    Also the latest Intel graphics probably has more nVidia in it than Intel. Kinda like the heart of Intel's latest ssd has a completely non-intel controller in it (A competiters controller at that). Plus AMD's low-end netbook cpu fusion already looks to gives Intel's highest-end graphics a run for its money (I haven't looked at reviews recently though). Intel's graphics doesn't seem to do well in all games. Plus some say they will continue to have bad drivers? I don't know from experience myself. Are they are getting more praise than they probably should? Again I don't know. I just see what from what I read....
  • Strunf - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    "The only thing..."
    And yet they make the best CPUs out there...

    "On the general architecture side they copied everything from AMD"
    Hypertransport is just another bus nothing really huge here, integrated mem controllers, multi-core and so on is nothing really unexpected its just a step anyone could have guessed, after all SOC have been around for a long time...

    "EVGA chose nVidia"
    Is EVGA some kind of reference?...

    "Intel has no particular advantage"
    Stop smoking weed, Intel can make it's own flash, chances are they know it better than anyone else, others rely on 3rd party companies, it's for no reason Intel SSD are rock solid with less than 1/2 returns compared to others.
  • Nentor - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    "GPU side, Intel has yet to get a single success as they have never beaten nV or ATI (AMD) - and frankly if Voodoo was still on the market, even they would beat the intel chips."

    I think you mean 3DFX?

    I don't think Intel has the same public in mind creating GPU as nVidia and ATI do? They just focus on GPU for business/low end user systems.
  • Broheim - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    >>"On the chipset corner, as long as Intel chipsets battled Nvidia's, EVGA chose nVidia, that says everything imho."

    so a company that caters exclusively to gamers would choose the chipset (that at the time was the only one) that supported SLI, what a shocker!

    >>"GPU side, Intel has yet to get a single success as they have never beaten nV or ATI (AMD) - and frankly if Voodoo was still on the market, even they would beat the intel chips."

    because obviously intel tries real hard to be the top GPU manufacturer, right? oh wait...
    the HD2000/3000 is more than plenty for the vast majority of consumers who plays farmville and watch youtube videos... they don't really care about how smoothly they can run crysis.
    quicksync is also stupid and completely useless, amirite?

    honestly I think the 510 is stupid and intel should have sticked with their original plan of X25-M G2 performance at a lower pricepoint (which i hope they still have in the works). synthetic benchmarks aside, it's hard to tell the difference between the X25-M and a "Faster drive" in real world usage.

    as for OCZ buying Indilinx, I think it's great that they now have a new angle from which to screw over customers... /end sarcasm
  • Spazweasel - Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - link

    >> because obviously intel tries real hard to be the top GPU manufacturer, right?

    Correct. Intel IS the top GPU manufacturer in the world (at least as far as PCs are concerned), as most computers do not have discrete video, and therefore use the GPU built into the motherboard chipset. And since Intel is by a large margin the dominant manufacturer of chipsets... well, yeah.

    It will be interesting to see, in the near future when mobile computer sales (smartphones, tablets) are the largest segment of computer sales altogether, which video solution is the number one solution worldwide. For all we know, the worldwide dominant video provider might well be PowerVR or Adreno.
  • will792 - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    Transposed letters: Porbably very little.

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