Sony on the scrounge for silicon chips

Spare the price of a wee DRAM, guv?

Sony executives are rifling through the rubbish bins of chip factories in a desperate bid to score sufficient parts to keep PlayStation 2s dribbling out of the company's factories.

Well, yes, we exaggerate, but Sony is in talks with Taiwanese companies to get them to up production of key PlayStation 2 parts semiconductor parts, according to Taiwanese business paper the Economic Daily News.

Sony chairman Norio Ohga has been visiting the likes of the TSMC and United Micro Electronics to negotiate outsourcing deals. Currently, almost all of Sony's silicon requirements are being serviced by Japanese companies.

The plan goes beyond PlayStation, to provide parts for many of Sony's IT products, including its digital cameras and camcorders (LCD screens and Flash Memory), digital music players (LCD screens, Flash memory) and cellphones (LCD screens and... er... Flash memory).

The problem for Sony is that many Japanese manufacturers are looking to South-East Asia's fabs for semiconductor components, driven to look outside Japan by the weak Japanese economy and their own production capacity limitations.

Sony isn't new to the game either. It has already begun outsourcing production of some Vaio notebook models to Taiwan, which produces the vast majority of the world's brand and non-brand portable PCs. ®

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