Report: Apple could turn Anobit purchase into development center, R&D VP Ed Frank touring Israel

Calcalist, a daily business newspaper published in Israel by the Yedioth Ahronoth Group (which also publishes Yedioth Ahronoth, the country’s most widely circulated newspaper) on Tuesday ran a story claiming Apple was actively engaged in talks to buy fabless flash memory chip maker Anobit for as much as half a billion dollars. In a follow-up story this morning, Calcalist reports that Apple’s senior research and development executive Dr. Edward H. Frank is already touring Israel, investigating possibilities of an Apple-run development center as numerous Silicon Valley technology giants already operate R&D centers in the country, including Intel, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Broadcom, Yahoo!, eBay and China-based Huawei, to name just a few.

Apple’s Frank is a member of Carnegie Mellon University’s Board of Trustees and chairs the university’s Inspire Innovation campaign. He is apparently holding meetings with a bunch of Israeli startups who are hoping to wow the world’s most valuable technology company with next-generation solutions promising to bring flash storage prices down while substantially extending the lifespan of flash memory chips. The delegation headed by Frank has already met with executives at Intel Israel, the Calcalist story claims.

Globes chimed in with information from sources that “Apple has hired Aharon Aharon, a veteran player in Israel’s high tech industry, to lead the new development center”.

Should the Anobit deal go through, reporters Assaf Gilad and Meir Orbach write, Apple may be interested in further acquisitions of other Israeli startups specializing in innovative flash storage solutions. This includes XtremIO which develops server-based storage systems and its rival Kaminario, as well as DensBits which specializes in controller based signal processing to improve the operation of flash memory chip processors.

DensBits licenses its technology which improves flash memory chips’ reliability to about 100,000 deletions – twice that of its nearest competitor Anobit – helping reduce the prices of flash memory chips dramatically. Both DensBits’ and Anobit’s technology is believed to be licensed by many flash memory chip makers. Specifically, South Korean Hynix uses Anobit’s solution for a flash memory chip inside the iPhone 4S. Interestingly, Apple co-Founder Steve Wozniak is lead scientist for a competing enterprise SSD operation called Fusion I/O.

Ed Frank can be seen in the below clip talking about his experience at Carnegie Mellon University and how it continues to influence him today.

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