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Sony behind PlayStation production problems

O.25 to 0.18 micron shift zapped yield of graphics chips

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Sony has confessed that it itself is to blame for some of the "industry-wide component shortages" that it has in the claimed to have limited its ability to ship sufficient PlayStation 2 consoles to meet anticipated demand.

Some time back, Sony decided to upgrade its Nagasaki chip foundry from 0.25 micron technology to a 0.18 micron process. And the shift, which involves making significant changes to the plant, hit production of the PlayStation 2's Graphics Synthesiser chip hard. Basically, it knocked chip yields right down, and Sony is only now beginning to catch up.

"It will take some more time to reach a planned yield rate," a Sony spokesman said, cited by EE Times.

In the meantime, Sony is sourcing 0.25 micron Graphic Synthesisers from its Kokubu factory, but the two together are clearly not enough to get chips churned out at the originally planned rate.

The PlayStation 2's Graphics Synthesiser takes output from the console's main processor, the Emotion Engine, and pumps it to the analog and digital RGB output ports. The Graphics Synthesiser handles the rendering of the final frame from a series of display lists - essentially a list of what to draw and where - generated by the Emotion Engine.

Fewer Graphics Synthesisers means fewer PlayStation 2s, and that's one of the reasons why the company was forced to cut the allocation of machines for the US launch from one million to 500,000. ®

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