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Micron's Clever Subterfuge


  • In October of 2019, Micron called Intel's share of IMFT / 3D Xpoint.
  • In March, Micron announced that they will discontinue IMFT & 3D Xpoint.
  • I believe that this is an obfuscation. Don the tinfoil hats.

Sunrise in spring at Micron Technology
Photo by knowlesgallery/iStock Editorial via Getty Images

Last March, Micron (NASDAQ:MU) perplexed everyone by announcing that they "will cease development of 3D XPoint™ ["3DXP"] and shift resources to focus on accelerating market introduction of CXL-enabled memory products".

This statement is

This article was written by

With sadness and heavy heart we inform the loss of Darren Ginter aka Stephen Breezy Research. Darren suffered with prolonged illness in recent years and departed on April 21, 2023. He started his journey with Seeking Alpha in 2012. Deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. We'll miss his valuable contributions to our platform.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------“I shall be obliged to write just as if I were considering a topic that no one had dealt with before me” (AT XI 328, CSM I 328).

Analyst’s Disclosure: I am/we are long MU, INTC, IBM. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

I do not recommend any investment until the S&P PE ratio comes down from the stratospheric levels where it is now. I do own shares in the bankrupt ECD with hopes that there will be a distribution to shareholders after any potential settlement. I have not communicated with the ECD bankruptcy trust since the suit began.

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Comments (322)


An explanation of where things went astray; is this a plausible one?

“The spec sheets were great. Optane/QuantX was to be a whopping 1000× faster than flash, cheaper than DRAM (two important criteria), and tolerate more read/write cycles than flash. To kickstart production, the first products were sold as SSDs (solid state disks). But early reviewers weren’t impressed. Yes, the Optane-based SSDs were faster than normal NAND-based SSDs, but not by the promised huge margins. And they were really expensive. Overall, not a great out-of-box experience, and Optane was off to a bad start.

In hindsight, the standard SSD interface was to blame. The underlying memory technology was indeed fast, but the interface masked Optane’s benefits. “Even with hypothetical zero-latency memory, an SSD with an NVMe interface is only about 6× faster than a conventional NVMe flash SSD,” says Handy.

Over on the motherboard side, things weren’t going well, either. Intel’s intention was to integrate an Optane interface directly onto its processors, much the way DRAM interfaces appear now. You’d have Optane DIMMs alongside your commodity DRAM DIMMs. That would make Optane a must-have feature (literally) on certain Intel-based systems. Not coincidentally, it also locked out AMD and other chipmakers, because the unique DDRT interface was proprietary to Intel. Even Micron couldn’t make compatible DIMMs.

In practice, Intel was late to its own market. On-chip support for Optane memory didn’t appear on Xeon processors until two full generations later than Intel had intended. And the Optane DIMMs themselves weren’t available until early in 2019. The delays didn’t help with market acceptance. And the price was a problem. Optane memory was still too expensive.”
S_Archer profile picture
@Stephen Breezy Research, @aeeueue eae

So will the Optane/3D XPoint process still be around when this lawsuit ends this year? Micron already abandoned it and it appears to be falling apart for intel.
aeeueue eae profile picture

Kind of a messy article, but it talks of entirely different factors leading to Optane's demise. The cageyness micron and intel reportedly had against each other can be speculated to mean various things.
i_am_seeker_2 profile picture
@aeeueue eae I dunno, I always heard in the past that thermal issues were the big problems that made it impossible for phase change technology to be usable.
However, even if that isn't true with XP, the political issues would have been enough. That article makes Intel sound really dumb.
@aeeueue eae Your right it's a messy article. Interesting that Micron, Ovonics and ECD are still throwing court filings at each other, while filings between Intel and ECD have stopped.

I_am_seeker_2 "I always heard in the past that thermal issues were the big problems that made it impossible for phase change technology to be usable." IBM's Watson computer uses phase change technology.
bubbleking profile picture
@aeeueue eae how is Intel going to get into foundry with this reputation?
I wonder if this little nugget is something to get excited about.

470. Stipulation By and Between Energy Conversion Devices Liquidation Trust and Intel Corporation Re: Pending Settlement. Filed by Defendant Intel Corporation. (filed: 12/23/2021)

From: Docketbird
absarokeedave profile picture
@sdac03 What was stipulated (agreed by both) between parties? Thanks
@absarokeedave Maybe sdac03 found something I didnt. But I havent seen any details. Also, Micron isnt part of this settlement, yet. Legal briefs between the ECD trust and Micron are still flying fast and furious.
G H profile picture

Thanks for keeping an eye on this. I can't find that filing; have you got a link to it online somewhere accessible to the public? The most recent filing on "Case No. 12-43166" that I can find was on Dec 15, 2021:


in which the court agreed that the complainant (the ECD Liquidation Trust) was allowed to add another complaint, alleging new evidence of Intel fraud, even though the original deadline to do so (May 3, 2021) had passed.
I wonder if the attached article about Samsung's MRAM is something to get excited about, perhaps MU should revive its Automata project?

Stephen Breezy Research profile picture
It looks like they're heating up on the legal spaghetti.


Depositions and subpoenas. This isn't going to be over for some time.
@Stephen Breezy Research Actually that means the delays are over and it is progressing. Should be done in a year'ish
Stephen Breezy Research profile picture
Are we there yet?

I have a feeling that this is why Micron is down.


Thursday, August 12, 2021

Order Extending Deadline for Micron Technology, Inc. to Respond to Plaintiff Energy Conversion Devises Liquidation Trust's Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint . (nlt)
Related: [-] 287 Stipulation filed by Defendant Micron Technology, Inc.

Order Denying Plaintiff's Ex Parte Motion for Expedited Hearing Related [+]. (jmk)

Corrected Brief Corrected Brief in Support of Motion to Continue Discovery Deadlines and for Standstill Pending Completion of Mediation Amending Proposed Fact Discovery Completion Deadline to be January 14, 2022 Filed by Plaintiff Energy Conversion Devices Liquidation Trust Related [+]. (Sgroi, Joseph)


I wish that I had a better link but they took down the kccllc.net/ecd public site (now all of the links in my previous articles are dead) and put a giant red warning on the pacer site for the Eastern District of Michigan Bankruptcy site after this article was posted.


They really want to keep us out.
aeeueue eae profile picture
@Stephen Breezy Research
Is there no end to how long they can drag this out?
Do they actually expect to build a better case than they already have through new findings?
Is this a strategy to get to wait and see what new memory type micron brings to market, while holding Micron's new memory type hostage, requiring a bigger sum for a settlement deal if it's to happen earlier?
Stephen Breezy Research profile picture
@aeeueue eae

The Rambus suit took a decade to settle. To me, it seems clear that Micron isn't going to release any next-gen memory until the suit is over so ECD is doing more discovery to see what that next-gen memory will be.

But they are still in mediation as all of this is happening. So they could strike a deal at any time. But the fact that Micron wants an expedited hearing seems to be a smoking gun (i.e. they don't want the new discovery).
i_am_seeker_2 profile picture
@Stephen Breezy Research If their next-gen memory is as valuable as you imply, Micron surely would have forked over a billion dollars by now or a 1% royalty figure to get the case settled so that they could get on with it. And they may well have kept Lehi in order to have a fab read to move into for production.

Not that no one has said that before.
Stephen Breezy Research profile picture
So, Micron just sold the IMFT fab to TI for $900MM. Let me get this straight. They buyout Intel's half for $1.5 billion, implying a value of $3 billion. Given the sale price, that leaves $2.1 billion on the table.

They must have really wanted that intellectual property.
Growlzler profile picture
@Stephen Breezy Research ,

How soon we forget. TI sold Micron their memory business in 1998 for $0.10 on the Dollar...,


BTW: Having a good laugh as well - something about what goes around...,
G H profile picture
@Stephen Breezy Research

What you write usually makes sense to me (which I suspect puts me in an exclusive group). But what you've written about the fab sale to TI doesn't. When Micron paid Intel $1.5B, my impression was that was purely for the physical fab, any associated chip inventory, and the contracts/acquisition costs of the active employees and suppliers at the time. No IP was transferred, because as a founding IMFT partner Micron already had rights to all IMFT's IP. And I'm quite sure Intel retained its own IP rights (ie. Micron didn't buy any exclusivity), since Intel said they plan to fab gen-2 3D XPoint for their Optane-brand SSDs themselves.

What am I missing?
Growlzler profile picture
@G H ,

You're absolutely right and thanks for straightening out the narrative on that point.

ECD Shareholders should be getting royalties from Samsung also.
doggiecool profile picture

ECD shareholders, should have already written off their losses on their taxes and consider themselves fortunate.
Growlzler profile picture
@Stephen Breezy Research ,

A Cinematic Study of Mechanisms of Phase Change Memory

"Just imagine something you did 43 years ago became a hot subject in the semiconductor and PC industries. I'm a retiree from Xerox. In 1969 at my younger years, I wrote a dissertation at Iowa State University on how to use the different phases (amorphous or crystalline) of a glass-like material (chalcogenide) to store "1" or "0" for computer memory; it is called the phase change memory (PCM.) Besides the dissertation I also made a 16 mm movie on the mechanism of phase change memory (PCM.) at that time. In the early 70's I did work in the characterization of PCM. Then I joined the management rank of Corporate America.

Recently I was awaken by an article in Science that described chalcogenide PCM has the potential for major applications in non-volatile memory and it became a hot subject in the semiconductor and PC industries. This motivated me to show our old movie to few PCM researchers at Cambridge University and at the Chinese Academy of Science and they commented that our 1969 movie still has remnant value in contributing to the understanding of the switching mechanism of PCM, even in 2012. Therefore, I would like to share this study with you here. I would like to thank my granddaughter, Isabella Havas, who helped me to convert the original 16 mm movie into the digital format and put the whole thing together on youtube for me.

PCM is still in the very early stage of its commercialization. But Samsung has incorporated PCM into one of its smartphones and they also have announced plan to market a 8 GB PCM module.

Hope you will enjoy this video.

Charlie Sie (chsie@aol.com)"


I really like the "Flash"...,

johndkopta profile picture

That is just a wondrous post there good Professor G.
Thanks for making my day.

Little background of good Dr. Sie:


(He also makes mention, no surprise, in the Ovshinsky bio, "The Man Who Saw Tomorrow".)

The #1 Top Forty tune from January 1969 when Dr. Sie published his dissertation (sorta fits, somehow):


Peace and thanks once again my wise friend.
Timmy41 profile picture
@johndkopta Good info
S_Archer profile picture
@Growlzler PCM was the new thing and in early stages of ramp in 1974, 1994, 2004, 2015, 2019, 2020. Its older than flash memory by 2 decades. Samsung is using it for NOR type memory. Just like Micron did 8 years ago.

The problem is that it is not better than anything. It is different . (This comes from interview with former OUM company veteran). 90% of the work on this was done by Intel or ST (or their love child, Numonyx)
Mr_Jones profile picture
@Stephen Breezy Research - any thoughts on this?

Intel’s Trojan Horse into the Foundry Business | Co-packaged Silicon Photonics is Intel’s Path Forward for IDM 2.0

Fireside chat:

10:25 mark - Inventory practices transitioning from 'just in case' to 'just in time'.

I think I love this!
Growlzler profile picture
@Stephen Breezy Research ,

I find of interest the chain of events – especially as regards the initiation of the divorce between Micron and Intel in February 2016. The "blow-up disagreement" that neither company can or will talk about...,

"Que sais-je?"

G H profile picture

My intuition concurs with yours... and @Stephen Breezy Research's. Mine was shaped by the content and also the tone of the March 16 conference call, which I just replayed. Nothing significant has changed for me in the subsequent 10 weeks. I wish I knew how to download it, since it will disappear sometime next March, and I haven't been able to find a transcript of the Q&A anywhere (the prepared remarks are at investors.micron.com/... ). The audio is here for anyone who wants to relive that momentous occasion: edge.media-server.com/...
The Q&A starts at 12:10.
Stephen Breezy Research profile picture


I was just reading this article and Intel's Pappas said the following:
Intel's Pappas, who chairs the CXL board, said Micron's shift away from 3D XPoint in favor of CXL with other memory technologies was a "non sequitur."

"In my mind, 3D XPoint and CXL are made for each other," Pappas said.
________________end quote_______________________

They're completely different technologies: 3DXP is a memory technology just like DRAM. CXL is a bus technology just like DDRx, NVMe, PCIe, etc.

You can run 3DXP on any of those bus technologies. Hence my use of the term "subterfuge". Something is up at Micron and I think that they are posturing for a settlement with ECD.
rt94103 profile picture
@Stephen Breezy Research " I think that they are posturing for a settlement with ECD."

I agree, and posted that belief back on March 23rd...

doggiecool profile picture
as I have eloquently stated before... "3DXpoint? Put a fork in it"

normally when a money pit comes to an end, a company will save face by submitting patent applications on everything under the sun. Throw it all against the wall and see what sticks.
C185 profile picture
@doggiecool Optane is ramping and Intel said months ago it's being deployed in over 1/3rd of Fortune 500 companies and still more companies are enabling it. You can stick a fork in your delusions.

Intel filing memory patents is the norm. It's a key component of platform enabling. Intel even used to be a DRAM manufacturer.

2S-1C 4F2 cross-point DRAM array

1s-1t ferroelectric memory

Efficient analog in-memory matrix multiplication processor
doggiecool profile picture
and HPQ files for similar XPoint patents over 5 years ago
C185 profile picture
@doggiecool those aren't 3D XPoint patents. As usual you didn't get the point.
@Electric Phred

We havnt heard from you recently, and by the way, do you still like ARVN?
Electric Phred profile picture
@Fred. L. jumped back into MU a bit early and have been averaging down and writing shorter term calls against my 2023 leaps. Had the May 14th expiration to pocket today.

yes, very much still in ARVN and will be putting out an article after this conference on protein degradation, where Pfizer and Arvinas are both presenting: www.drugdiscoverychemistry.com/... An Arvinas competitor, privately held Progenra, is giving a talk on using PROTACs and protein degradadation on SARS CoV-2. What do you suppose a Covid cure, vs. a mere vaccine, would do for Pfizer and Arvinas.? If the SA editors hassle or delay me on this I will try Motley Fool or perhaps even bitclout.com Conference is May 18-20 and I have a very solid draft in the can, awaiting conference remarks from Arvinas, Progenra, and Pfizer. This is gonna be big.
aeeueue eae profile picture

Interesting comments by MemVerge co-founder and CEO Charles Fan.

"Fan said: “In 2 – 3 years we’ll see two to three CXL-interfaced SCM (Storage-Class Memory) products made at higher capacity and lower cost than DRAM.”

He cited Resistive RAM (RERAM) as a potential technology for this."

"Who is making them? Fan said: “We’re under NDA and they have not publicly announced anything. They are major established players of Intel and Micron class.”

This is hinting at Samsung, SK Hynix and maybe Kioxia/Western Digital. Whoever they are, MemVerge plans to support their CXL-connected technology out of the gate."
bubbleking profile picture
Trendforce report on DRAM
S_Archer profile picture
@bubbleking Good info... What happened to the Chinese company? no revenue?
bubbleking profile picture
@S_Archer CXMT? Probably ramping their 3 year old DRAM. Netlist is probably going after them after Micron does.
S_Archer profile picture
@bubbleking Actually, we looked into the patent issues. funny story.... you might see CXMT sue others and win in the next year or so. They spent way too much time (8 years) formally acquiring IP that others have been using since the owners were out of business and the other DRAM companies were treating it as obvious. Micron is furious that CXMT bought the IP rights and plans to use it against others. This is how patent law works. Samsung once bought an entire company for the sole purpose of using patents against someone currently suing them. Lawyers ..... ugh.
S_Archer profile picture
Nice to see crazy is still available on SA after COVID.

Micron is abandoning PCMS and 3D Xpoint. It turns out people don't want it and the revenue is not growing... too slow and too expensive. Micron is selling Lehi as a logic Fab. Employees are included with the Fab. Intel will announce its plans over the next 6-12 months. It will include end of life costs and writeoffs.

Sorry... SB .... it wasn't the miracle technology you thought it was. It did waste a few billion for Micron and Intel
Stephen Breezy Research profile picture

>Micron is abandoning PCMS and 3D Xpoint.

No - Micron said that they were only abandoning 3D XPoint which could mean a couple of things: (1) technically, Micron's version of 3DXP was NVMe-only. Since there was no mention of PCMS (for those who can read properly), this could simply mean that they've got a new, better PCMS coming, as I have outlined in the article above.

But, apparently, you missed the fact that an Intel exec shot down Micron's implications and even went to the point of indicating that they have a 3DXP/CXL product coming. Here's the link for that one as well, in case you missed it:


Intel's Pappas, who chairs the CXL board, said Micron's shift away from 3D XPoint in favor of CXL with other memory technologies was a "non sequitur."

"In my mind, 3D XPoint and CXL are made for each other," Pappas said.

Pappas revealed Intel product plans "have 3D XPoint going on to CXL in the future." He stressed that he is not part of Intel's product teams but asked the general manager if he could mention the roadmap, which Intel has yet to publicly disclose. Intel sells its 3D XPoint-based SSDs and persistent memory modules under the Optane brand name.
S_Archer profile picture
@Stephen Breezy Research Jim's job is to push Optane for CXL. He does that well. But he abmitted that Micron abandoned 3DXP and PCMS and did so without telling Intel ahead of time.
Stephen Breezy Research profile picture

And you know this because?
NOW WAIT A SECOND HERE - I read your article and have just started reading the Court's decision on the motion to dismiss the lawsuit. (BTW- in these motions the court has to assume all the allegations of the plaintiff are true.) While it's a complicated and convoluted situation, the Court has emphasized (in bold print) that under the contracts ECD was entitled to 2% royalty per year (just 2% mind you) of all revenues from Ovonyx and Ovonyx had the right to sell or license its IP as the majority of the board deemed fit. On top of that ECD and Intel have rights of first refusal in the sale of stock in Ovonyx under certain conditions. The court also put that in bold print also. Now, as I said, I've just started reviewing this convoluted situation, but let's assume for the moment that ECD's rights are limited to the 2% of the revenues generated by the IP that was transferred to the defendants, including Intel and Micron. Let's also assume that the IP transferred is STILL going to be used and is not being independently created.
It doesn't seem to me that 2% of the top line revenue is going to impact the bottom line of the defendants all that much.
You mention the words trillion dollars. Well assuming that the top line is a trillion dollars, that would give ECD $20 billion dollars for each trillion generated. That doesn't seem terrible for the bottom line of Micron and Intel if they are going to keep (on the top line) $980 billion dollars of revenue. Just my perspective based on those assumptions. Maybe that's why the Court put off the case to let the defendants try to settle the matter rather than litigate it for the next upteen years.
Stephen Breezy Research profile picture

What about a clawback on the right of first refusal. Also, I need to emphasize that the value in industrial-scale phase change and ovonic switching is NOT MEMORY. Rather, the value is in AI and FPGA.

Is it any wonder that they put cSwitch out of business after they commercialized phase change and ovonic switching for FPGA uses? The rest of the industry simply couldn't keep up.


The cSwitch CS90 FPGA product *was shipping* and the customer feedback was overwhelmingly positive because there was no other product like it. And there still isn't.

They've got to make sure that ECD doesn't clawback that technology on the right of first refusal.

It is priceless technology. Don't worry about the memory products. And wait until you see the AI tech...
doggiecool profile picture
@Stephen Breezy Research
i've asked this before....

who is ECD? They don't exist anymore.

Is ECD effectively 1-2 lawyers representing past shareholders?
If so, MU/INTC could easily hire those 1-2 lawyers with a signing bonus of $10M

Case closed.

lawyers are like the Hydra from mythology....hire those two and another four sprout up out of nowhere.
Financial articles from geeks who understand all of the underlying dynamics are my favorites. Well done, and thanks for writing, @Stephen Breezy Research.
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