Saifun’s Boaz Eitan: M-Systems’ x4 claims impossible
M-Systems CEO Dov Moran: It will be a pity if in a few months he’ll have to feel uncomfortable about what he said.
Gitit Pincas 20 Jun 06 19:13
The rivalry between two of Israel’s top technology companies, Saifun Semiconductors Ltd. (Nasdaq:SFUN) and M-Systems Flash Disk Pioneers Ltd. (Nasdaq: FLSH) has gone up a notch. Last month, M-Systems, run by chairman, president and CEO Dov Moran, unveiled its revolutionary x4 technology for storing four memory bits on each flash memory cell. Several months early, Saifun, run by CEO Dr. Boaz Eitan, unveiled its Quad NROM technology, which does the same thing.
The two companies are not direct competitors, and M-Systems explained at the time how the two companies could coexist, and why their markets and targets for the technologies were different. Flash memory is a type of memory processor that guarantees the preservation of information even when the power source is disconnected. It is therefore an excellent solution for battery-operated devices, such as digital cameras, music players and cellular telephones.
Eitan sounds very categorical when talking about M-Systems’ technology. One of the world’s leading physicists in non-volatile memory (NVM), he told “Globes” today in a special interview, “As a physicist, I tell you that to do what M-Systems says it can do requires flash manufacturers to produce a new flash with sixteen layers. I don’t care that people say that this is possible and could happen. I’m telling you - and remember this well - it’s impossible to create such a flash. Period. No tricks or tall tales. Furthermore, if someone knows how to make a 16-level flash, which I reiterate is physically impossible, then we can create technology enabling eight-bit storage in each memory cell. But as I said, it’s impossible.”
Eitan adds that in the event that a flash memory maker were to produce a 16-level flash, M-Systems would be the company that would succeed in cleaning up the information, attaching to it the best system, and using it to create the four-bit memory cell. “It is a very good company. I know this, I was recently a member of its board,” he says. “I’m not a commentator on M-Systems. And I can say that I don’t doubt Dov Moran. I think he truly believes what he says. But physically, there is no such thing. Everyone in the market can believe what they want, but in a year, or two, or four, we’ll have the full picture, and we’ll see who’s right. After all, we can’t both be right, M-Systems and I, can we?”
M-Systems recently announced the establishment of an internal audit committee to examine options grants at the company. At the same time, the company cancelled a planned offering. Moran is not prepared to talk about the matter, but he is willing to respond to Eitan. “I’m pleased to get a certificate of honesty from Boaz Eitan. That’s wonderful. As for his comment that we cannot do what we said we did; it’s a risky statement, and I wouldn’t talk that way. I don’t think that Boaz knows what happening at every fab in the world, and it will be a pity if in a few months he’ll have to feel uncomfortable about what he said. But it’s not my job to advise him. He’s a very smart man who usually knows what he’s doing.”
Moran adds that M-Systems already has working samples, and that the x4 technology exists. “The real question isn't whether it’s possible or not to do what we say, but at what level of reliability we do it and how good it is. Boaz is a physicist. I’m not; I’m a systems man. As such, I say that we what created around the flash is reliable enough and can function superbly. It’s true that there are inherent problems at 16 levels, but the system we built solves them.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il - on June 20, 2006