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Sony to ramp chip spend to $9 billion over three years

Launches home server with 90nm CPU

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Sony plans to spent ¥500 billion ($4.3 billion) over the next three years on chip fabrication facilities and the same figure on chip R&D, the chip giant said yesterday.

This year alone it will spend ¥175 billion ($1.5 billion) on capex and a little less than that on R&D.

Sony has already said it intends to invest ¥200 billion ($1.7 billion) developing a 65nm fab process and building a 300mm wafer plant.

The announcement follows Sony's decision, revealed earlier this month, to combine its various chip development and production operations into a single unit. The new operation is already working on Cell, the next-generation massively parallel processor being co-designed by Sony, IBM and Toshiba. It is also preparing a 90nm version of the PlayStation 2's Emotion Engine CPU which integrates the console's graphics chip on the die.

That part, dubbed the EE+GS@90nm, is the foundation of PSX, the PlayStation 2-based home server Sony announced separately yesterday. The cubic white unit integrates a DVD+/-RW drive, 120GB hard drive, TV tuner and game console. PSX will ship in Japan by the end of the year - giving Sony time to ramp up its 90nm process - and later in 2004 for the US and Europe.

The PSX will ship with an analog TV tuner, though this will ultimately be upgraded to a digital version, Sony said. The product comes from Sony's Broadband Networks Company, and marks the first real convergence product tying in TV, broadband Internet and computing. Microsoft is believed to be working on a similar system as a the next version of its Xbox console. ®

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