Samsung Invests in Flash Startup Fusion-io

Samsung has invested in Fusion-io, deepening the relationship between two significant players in the fast-growing flash-storage business.

The South Korean company, a major supplier of NAND flash silicon, invested "millions" in Fusion-io, said Fusion-io President and Chief Technology Officer David Flynn, though he declined to give a more specific figure. Also as part of the announced deal, the two companies will jointly evaluate technology for new applications of solid-state storage, he said.

Flash storage, widely used in consumer electronics, is playing a growing role in enterprises because it offers a more efficient alternative to HDDs (hard disk drives) for high-speed access to data. It is also emerging as a fast, power-efficient storage alternative for mobile PCs.

Fusion-io specializes in storage devices that plug directly into PCI Express (PCIe) slots in servers, rather than SSDs (solid-state drives) that use traditional HDD form factors or interfaces, Flynn said. Founded in 2007, it has continued to win funding despite a tight investment environment. In April, the company took in US$47.5 million in funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners and other investors, including Dell Ventures. Earlier this year, Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, already a member of Fusion-io's board, became its chief scientist.

Samsung is the primary supplier of flash for Fusion-io's products, though Fusion-io has qualified other vendors' chips, Flynn said. While the companies work together, they also compete, as Samsung makes its own solid-state storage devices.

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