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Sony, Tosh team up to produce PlayStation 2 processor

Joint-venture formed to avoid Sega/NEC-style production problems

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Toshiba and Sony are to form a separate company to mass-produce the processor that will drive the next-generation PlayStation 2 games console. The move is designed to avoid the problems rival console vendor Sega faced when its chip supplier, NEC, proved unable to manufacture enough graphics chips. The joint-venture will be 51 per cent Toshiba-owned -- Sony will take the remaining 49 per cent through its Sony Computer Entertainment subsidiary. The company, as yet unnamed, will be established on 1 April and be capitalised at Y100 million ($810,370). The JW will focus on manufacturing the PlayStation 2's 128-bit processor, dubbed the Emotion Engine by Sony and Toshiba, who both co-operated on its development. Volume shipments are expected to begin in the autumn. The console itself will ship by the end of the year in Japan, and in the second half of 2000 into the US and European markets. Sony and Toshiba are clearly keen to avoid NEC's problems. Last year, NEC admitted it was having problems adapting the PowerVR 2 processor developed by UK graphics specialist VideoLogic to Sega's 128-bit Windows CE-based Dreamcast console (see earlier story). Those problems didn't delay Dreamcast's launch, but they did severely hit Sega's sales targets. Originally, the company had predicted sales of one million units by the end of 1998 -- by launch, that figure had been revised to 500,000, with the millionth sale now pushed back to sometime before the end of March 1999. In fact, recent reports in the UK press suggest Sega has only just passed the 500,000 mark, though its poor showing is now due more to a paucity of software that takes full advantage of the console's power than a shortage of PowerVR 2 chips. ® See also PlayStation 2 development to be driven by Linux

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