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Monday, 12 March, 2001, 16:28 GMT
IBM wins Playstation 3 contract
Sony's Playstation 2
Sony aims to build internet access into Playstation 2
US computer giant IBM has won the contract to produce the next generation of micro-processors for Sony's Playstation 3 games console.

The new chip will be designed for the broadband era, allowing the games machines and other "intelligent" devices to communicate with each other or connect to the internet.

We're aiming to create something fundamentally different

Sony spokesman
IBM's semi-conductor business landed the contract ahead of Toshiba, which built the Emotion Engine graphics processor used in the phenomenally successful Playstation 2 console, launched last year.

Toshiba will retain a close involvement in the new project and will contribute part of the $400m development costs.

Deep Blue

The three companies aim to design a "super-computer on a chip" with a wide variety of consumer applications, they said in a joint statement.

"The result will be consumer devices that are more powerful than IBM's Deep Blue super-computer, operate at low power and access the broadband internet at ultra-high speeds," the statement added.

Deep Blue defeated then world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a high-profile battle pitting man against machine in 1997.

Production of the new chip is expected to start in 2004.

Fundamentally different

It will be developed at the IBM laboratory in Austin, Texas, and manufactured at a new $3bn plant IBM is building in East Fishkill, New York.

The chip will also be capable of massive parallel processing - dividing up complex or time-consuming processing tasks among many chips - and could eventually be used in computer products.

"This isn't just an extension of what we've done in the past," a Sony spokesman said.

"We're aiming to create something fundamentally different."

The chips will aim for features smaller than 0.10 micron, and Sony announced separately it would licence 0.10 micron fabrication technology from IBM.

Internet access

Toshiba and Sony also signed a memorandum of understanding to develop 0.13 micron-sized dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips for the Playstation 2 console, the two companies said in a separate statement.

This will help Sony reach its goal of equipping Playstation 2 with internet access - once a sufficient number of Japanese homes have access to broadband.

Although the announcements came after the end of Monday trade on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, both Sony and Toshiba managed to outperform the market benchmark and posted lighter losses than most other shares in Japan's battered high-tech sector.

Sony ended 1.88% lower at 8,330 yen and Toshiba was off 0.91% at 656 yen, compared with a 3.6% drop in the Nikkei 225 share index.

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See also:

25 Jan 01 | Business
Playstation woes hit Sony profits
24 Jan 01 | Business
Sega considers axing Dreamcast
23 Jan 01 | Business
Sega linked to Playstation, XBox
07 Jan 01 | Business
Gates unveils Playstation rival
15 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Your experiences of Playstation 2
12 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Playstation 2 faults reported
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