Scientists discover polar domain walls in antiferroelectric materials

Storing more and more in an ever-smaller space – what sounds impossible is in fact just part of the daily routine in information technology, where for decades, increasing amounts of data have been successfully stored on media with ever higher densities. An international team, including researchers from Forschungszentrum Jülich, has now discovered a physical phenomenon that could prove suitable for use in further data aggregation. They found that domain walls, which separate areas in certain crystalline materials, display a polarization, potentially allowing information to be stored in the tiniest of spaces, thus saving energy. The results of this study have been published in the latest edition of the journal Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4031).

Scientists from Forschungszentrum Jülich, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland, and Xi'an Jiaotong University in China, have investigated so-called antiferroelectric crystals with the help of the most advanced electron microscopes and computer simulations. These materials possess no electrical polarization and for this reason, seemed up until recently to be of no interest for such applications. The researchers have now discovered that certain areas within these materials do indeed exhibit ferroelectric polar properties.

Ferroelectricity is generated when displacements of positive and negative ions result in the formation of electrical dipoles. The magnitude and orientation of these dipoles, also known as polarization, can be altered using an external electric field and is able to maintain itself without any additional current until it is overwritten. Ferroelectric materials are for this reason already used, for example, to store data on train tickets.

The ferroelectric areas that the researchers have discovered are only around two nanometers thick and could therefore one day be used to store data in a tenth of the space that magnetic materials use. They form the boundaries between identically-structured areas of the otherwise antiferroelectric materials.

"We can imagine these materials as being like three-dimensional patchwork objects made from regularly-arranged building blocks, which are the domains", explains Dr. Xiankui Wei, visiting scientist at the Peter Grünberg Institute and post-doctoral researcher at EPFL. "Within each individual building block, the polarization is absent due to cancellation of oppositely arranged electric dipoles in the basic structure unit. However, the boundaries or 'walls' between domains are polar."

Investigations using atomic resolution electron microscopy, with the help of a technique developed at Forschungszentrum Jülich showed that each wall is uniformly polarized. To change the polarization and write the data, the only requirement is a voltage pulse, as the polarization is then stored until overwritten. As no current is necessary, this uses less energy than magnetic data storage does.

"What is especially exciting in terms of applications is the special arrangement of the walls", reports Prof. Nava Setter of EPFL; under the microscope it is possible to see at relatively low magnification, that the domains are separated from each other by long, parallel walls. The position of the strain-free walls is variable – upon application of an inhomogeneous electric field, they move either closer together or further apart. The researchers intend to investigate these phenomena in more detail, as the ability to accurately control the mobility and density of the walls are important requirements in terms of technical applications. 

Seagate Technology and Xyratex Ltd have entered into a definitive agreement under which Seagate will acquire all outstanding shares of Xyratex in an all-cash transaction valued at $13.25 per share, or a total of approximately $374 million, including approximately $80 million in cash on Xyratex’s balance sheet as of August 31, 2013. The consideration represents a premium of approximately 27% per share over Xyratex’s stock price at the close of trading on December 20, 2013.

Xyratex has developed a hard disk drive (“HDD”) capital test equipment business. The acquisition of this business will further strengthen Seagate’s vertically integrated supply and manufacturing chain for disk drives and ensure uninterrupted access to important capital equipment. The acquisition also expands Seagate’s storage solutions portfolio by adding Xyratex’s industry-leading enterprise data storage systems and high-performance computing business. Seagate will operate this business as standalone entity and will focus on opportunities to improve and expand the business.   

“This is a strategically important acquisition for Seagate as we continue to focus on delivering best-in-class storage solutions for our customers,” said Dave Mosley, President of Operations and Technology at Seagate. “As the average capacity per drive increases to multi-terabytes, the time to test these drives increases dramatically. Therefore, access to world-class test equipment becomes an increasingly strategic capability. As a premier provider of HDD testing equipment, Xyratex is an important partner and we are excited to integrate these important capabilities which will considerably streamline our supply and manufacturing chain for our core HDD business. We are also pleased to acquire Xyratex’s storage systems and high-performance computing business, which provides us additional opportunities to serve our customers with a broader array of storage solutions.”

“Xyratex is very pleased to become a part of Seagate’s industry-leading organization,” said Ernie Sampias, Chief Executive Officer of Xyratex. “Seagate shares our commitment to innovation and the critical role that test plays in providing the best storage products at the lowest possible cost. After a thorough strategic review process in which we evaluated a wide range of alternatives, the Xyratex Board of Directors determined that this all-cash transaction with Seagate maximizes shareholder value through an attractive premium, and also affirms the significant value that our employees have created.”

The transaction has been approved by Xyratex’s Board of Directors and is subject to customary closing conditions, including review by regulatory bodies and approval by Xyratex shareholders. Baker Street Capital, Xyratex’s largest shareholder, has agreed to vote its shares in favor of the transaction. The transaction is currently expected to close in mid-calendar year 2014. Seagate expects to finance the transaction from existing cash balances and the transaction is not subject to any financing conditions.

Seagate currently expects the transaction to be neutral to Seagate’s earnings per share in its fiscal year 2015. Seagate expects positive cash flow immediately following the transaction and expects revenue contribution to be between $500-$600 million in its fiscal year 2015. 

Allen & Company LLC served as financial advisor and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati served as primary legal advisor to Seagate in connection with the transaction. Credit Suisse served as financial advisor and Latham & Watkins LLP served as legal advisor to Xyratex.

Rampalli will also be appointed to the Board of Directors

QLogic has announced the appointment of Prasad Rampalli as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective February 3, 2014.

“We are very pleased to have Prasad join the QLogic team as President and Chief Executive Officer,” said H.K. Desai, Executive Chairman, QLogic. “Prasad has strong technology experience, demonstrated execution skills, and is highly strategic; crucial traits to successfully manage the current business and develop a long-term growth strategy for the company.”

“I am very excited to join the QLogic team,” said Prasad Rampalli. “QLogic has built a solid business and I am enthusiastic about the incremental growth opportunities that I see ahead in the next generation enterprise data centers, as well as other expansion opportunities in transformative IT solutions.”

Mr. Rampalli has over 30 years of experience working with Intel and EMC and has held significant transformational leadership roles across information technology, solutions and platform business units. At EMC, he previously served as Senior Vice President, EMC Solutions Group, and most recently served as Senior Vice President, Cross Business Unit Engineering.

Named to CIO Magazine’s Top 100 Honoree List in 2001 and 2002, Mr. Rampalli holds a master’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Texas, Arlington and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, India.

Jean Hu, who has served as interim Chief Executive Officer since May, will continue her role as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

Silver Lake Partners to Support Transaction with $1 Billion Investment in Avago

  • Positions Avago as a leader in enterprise storage
  • Expands market position and brings valuable system-level expertise in wired infrastructure
  • Diversifies revenue and scales up Avago across multiple attractive end markets
  • Significantly and immediately accretive to Avago free cash flow and EPS on a non-GAAP basis
  • $200 million of annual operating synergies expected by the end of fiscal year 2015

Avago Technologies Limited and LSI Corporation have entered into a definitive agreement under which Avago will acquire LSI for $11.15 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $6.6 billion. The acquisition creates a highly diversified semiconductor market leader with approximately $5 billion in annual revenues by adding enterprise storage to Avago’s existing wired infrastructure, wireless and industrial businesses. The combined company will be strongly positioned to capitalize on the growing opportunities created by the rapid increases in data center IP and mobile data traffic.

“This highly complementary and compelling acquisition positions Avago as a leader in the enterprise storage market and expands our offerings and capabilities in wired infrastructure, particularly system-level expertise,” stated Hock Tan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Avago. “This combination will increase the Company’s scale and diversify our revenue and customer base. In addition to these powerful strategic benefits, as we integrate LSI onto the Avago platform, we expect to drive LSI’s operating margins toward Avago’s current levels, creating significant additional value for stockholders.”

“This transaction provides immediate value to our stockholders, and offers new growth opportunities for our employees to develop a wider range of leading-edge solutions for customers,” said Abhi Talwalkar, President and Chief Executive Officer of LSI. “Our leadership positions in enterprise storage and networking, in combination with Avago, create greater scale to further drive innovations into the datacenter.”

The transaction is expected to be significantly and immediately accretive to Avago’s non-GAAP free cash flow and earnings per share. Avago currently anticipates achieving annual cost savings at a run rate of $200 million by the end of the fiscal year ending November 1, 2015, the first full fiscal year after closing.

Under the terms of the agreement, LSI’s stockholders will receive $11.15 in cash for each share of LSI common stock they hold at closing, which is expected to occur during the first half of calendar 2014. Avago intends to fund the transaction with $1.0 billion of cash from the combined balance sheet and fully-committed financing from the following sources:

  • A $4.6 billion term loan from a group of banks; and
  • A $1 billion investment from Silver Lake Partners, which is expected to be in the form of a seven year 2% convertible note with a conversion price of $48.04 per share or preferred stock with equivalent economic terms.

The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies and is subject to regulatory approvals in various jurisdictions and customary closing conditions, as well as the approval of LSI’s stockholders.

Dot Hill AssuredSAN Pro 5000 Storage Arrays in a VMware Environment with Veeam Backup and Replication Score Top Marks for High Reliability and Performance at a Winning Price

Dot Hill Systems has announced that Northwest Missouri State University has selected Dot Hill AssuredSAN Pro 5000 real-time, autonomic tiered storage to support campus backup systems and to support virtualization and Exchange servers across the university network.

Founded in 1905 and located in Maryville, Missouri, Northwest Missouri State University has an enrollment of approximately 6,500 students representing 45 states and 30 countries. To address its escalating computing needs, the university sought to expand existing storage infrastructure for improved scalability and efficiency, and to support the school's virtualization initiatives. Working through reseller Choice Solutions, the university's IT team evaluated options and selected Dot Hill AssuredSAN storage for its excellent performance, functionality and price point, as well as its suitability for virtualized environments.

"In addition to outstanding performance, a very intuitive user interface and an extremely small footprint, it was the price point and level of reduced fees offered by the Dot Hill AssuredSAN Pro 5000 that really sealed the deal for us," said Timothy Carlyle, director of network computing, Northwest Missouri State University. "We won't have maintenance fees for three years, and now have ample storage to last through that same time frame and beyond."

The university's two Dot Hill AssuredSAN Pro 5000 Series arrays, each boasting 32TB of capacity, are located in two different buildings on campus and are 80 percent virtualized on servers. The arrays run in a VMware environment with Veeam backup and replication, creating seven days of snapshots. Once a week, systems back up to tapes, which are transferred to an offsite location. Three weeks' worth of data is stored for all Northwest Missouri State campus servers.

AssuredSAN 5000 Pro Series: Seriously Smart, Real-Time Tiered Storage — Ideal for Higher Education

The AssuredSAN Pro 5000 Series takes tiered storage to a new level — beyond competitors' batch migration schemes and into a new era of autonomic, real-time data tiering.The AssuredSAN Pro 5000 automatically manages 'hot' and 'cold' data in real-time to deliver storage performance when it's needed most. Powered by Dot Hill RealStor technology, the AssuredSAN Pro 5000 responds minute-by-minute to changes in data requirements, moving the most heavily accessed data up to the SSD tier, while detecting less active data and moving it to a lower tier. This data migration happens in real-time, without policy setting and human intervention.

"The Dot Hill AssuredSAN Pro 5000 is ideal for educational institutions such as Northwest Missouri State, which are looking for exceptional performance and support for virtualized environments at a price point that is cost effective," said Jim Jonez, senior director of marketing, Dot Hill. "Our AssuredSAN Pro 5000 blends a high-performance SSD tier and high-capacity rotating disk drive tiers with our patented RealStor autonomic, real-time tiering software to provide fast, reliable delivery of data in VMware vSphere environments."

Dot Hill serves major universities, such as the University of Pennsylvania, Ohio State and the University of Sussex and numerous others throughout the United Kingdom and the United States, through Dot Hill's network of specialized storage channel resellers. The Dot Hill channel offers exceptional knowledge of storage and virtualized environments as well as a deep understanding of the education and research sectors.

Installation services and support were provided by Choice Solutions, a fast-growing, nationwide systems integrator offering a broad range of IT solutions, including virtualization, storage, application and desktop delivery, network infrastructure and security. Choice Solutions' experienced team of engineers and sales and support staff helped Northwest Missouri State with technology selection and deployment, by conducting a thorough analysis of the university's IT goals and strategies.

"Dot Hill's high performance, reliable storage products with five 9's of availability are a vital part of our portfolio of solutions for business, education and government customers," said Jim Steinlage, president and CEO, Choice Solutions. "The Dot Hill AssuredSAN Pro 5000 is a best-in-breed solution that is helping Northwest Missouri State maximize efficiency and capitalize on its virtualization initiatives."

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