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Sony, Toshiba team on 0.1, 0.07 micron fab tech

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Sony and Toshiba are to co-develop 0.10 and 0.07 micron chip fabrication processes, the two companies said today.

Oddly enough, they said it back in March too, when the pair of them, along with IBM, announced their joint programme to develop a new broadband-oriented microprocessor, codenamed Cell.

Cell is set to be fabbed at 0.10 micron, and sounds like the kind of thing the pair have in mind. The release talks about low-power, mobile-capable and network-oriented chips for consumer applications. Cell has a broader base than the consumer market, but that's certainly Sony and Toshiba's chief area of interest.

Cell will be fairly large as chips go, according to comments made by the head of Toshiba's semiconductor operation, Yasuo Morimoto, in March, so fabrication at 0.1 micron or less will be essential to keeping the part's size and heat-generation characteristics low. Today's release hints at the presence of embedded memory, and that plus all the circuitry required for Cell's massively-parallel multi-processing support mean that the chip's transistor count is likely to be rather on the high side.

Development work will kick off this month at Toshiba's Advanced Microelectronics Centre. The programme will run through to March 2003 - the end of fiscal 2003 - and will have around ¥15 billion spent on it.

This isn't the first time the pair have co-operated on chip development. The Emotion Engine CPU, the basis for the PlayStation 2, was created by both companies and fabbed by Toshiba. ®

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