Last month, a report from a Japanese news publication claimed
Sony will sell its
chip making business to Toshiba. Specifically, the facilities used to
manufacture the Cell Broadband Engine – the CPU powering every PlayStation 3
console – would be sold to Toshiba in a deal that would complete sometime in
The day following the initial report, both Toshiba and Sony publically denied such
a deal. Sony’s been restructuring its chip business for months, but Sony
spokesman Tomio Takizawa said “nothing concrete has been decided,” regarding
its Cell Broadband Engine plant. Toshiba spokesman Keisuke Omori also said
nothing has been decided on such a deal.
Today, just a month after the initial report, Toshiba and
Sony announced intent to establish a joint venture that will produce high-performance
semiconductors, which not only includes the Cell Broadband Engine but also the RSX
graphics engine. The deal also includes the transfer to Toshiba from Sony Group
the 300mm wafer line fabrication facilities installed in Fab 2 of Sony
Semiconductor Kyushu Corporation's Nagasaki Technology Center (SKC) by the end
of March 2008.
The new joint venture company, which has yet to be formally
named, has a planned establishment date of April 1, 2008. Ownership
of the joint venture will comprise of 60 percent Toshiba Corp., 20 percent Sony Corp., and 20 percent
SCEI. Planned capitalization for the venture will be approximately 100 million
According to the joint statement, the facilities will
continue to use the 300mm wafer line fabrication, with focus on 65nm process
semiconductors. Toshiba and Sony Group will together target migration to 45nm
process mass production, which will also logically extend to chips used in the SCEI’s
game console. Current PlayStation 3 chips are built on the 90nm process.
Even with Toshiba’s majority control of the new company, the
manufacturing plant will still serve regular orders for the production of chips
used by Sony’s games machine. Toshiba says it will also use the facilities to expand
and enhance its system LSI business.
The joint venture will move Sony back closer to its core
business of consumer electronics, while Toshiba will gain another foothold on
the semiconductor business. Toshiba recently announced a new chip
called SpursEngine, which is based on the Cell architecture that is aimed primarily
at graphics applications. The new facilities opened to Toshiba give the company
greater flexibilities in its chip design and production, such as in the case of
quote: Sony is making a smart move considering they've been loosing so much money manufacturing the expensive components that go into its gaming consoles.
quote: Who woulda thought that they would brocker such a deal with Toshiba, who is their main competitor in the HD playback war
quote: Toshiba says it will also use the facilities to expand and enhance its system LSI business.