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Ex-Seagate CEO Watkins back with chip start-up

Bill Watkins turns up on the board of a start-up developing a way to pack more high-density chips into devices.

A few months after being ousted as chief executive of Seagate, Bill Watkins is back with a new start-up that's cooking up ways to pack high-density flash memory chips into small devices.

Bill Watkins
Bill Watkins Erica Ogg/CNET

Watkins is now a board member of Vertical Circuits, which is developing a "silver ooze" intended to make already small devices, like laptops and handheld gadgets, even thinner, The New York Times reports.

Vertical Circuits' main business is working on "3D stacking," which looks to decrease the space between memory chips by stacking them on top of each other, thereby creating smaller devices. The "ooze" is a patented substance that creates electrical connections between chips, taking away the need for wires to join them. Vertical Circuits says it takes out 1.6 millimeters of space between chips.

Watkins told the Times he's amazed by how valuable that space is for some companies: "The thing that has stunned me is how much a Dell or Apple will pay for thinness...there's a big difference for them between 2 millimeters and 1 millimeter on some of this stuff."

Vertical Circuits isn't announcing which companies it has partnered with yet, and it still has yet to turn a profit. Both are coming sometime in "the next few quarters," the company says.