The investment, to be spent over the coming three years, formalizes -- and quantifies -- the agreement that Sony, IBM and Toshiba announced last August regarding the "Cell" processor that will power the next Playstation and possibly other Sony consumer electronics devices, too.
While Microsoft's Xbox uses Intel and Nvidia processors, and Nintendo uses IBM and ATI processors, Sony said the investment in its own chip manufacturing capability is important to differentiate itself from rivals. The system-on-a-chip (SoC), code-named "Cell", will have features as small as 50 nanometers, and will incorporate chip-making materials pioneered by IBM (copper wiring, silicon-on-insulator transistors and low-k insulation). Toshiba will contribute its high-volume manufacturing capability and SoC technology expertise. Sony will guide the overall effort.
Out of the total 200 billion yen, 73 billion will be spent during the current fiscal year to build a new semiconductor fabrication line for the 300mm wafers.