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Sony to spend $1.13bn on Cell chip fabs

Sampling H1 2005

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Sony today said it plans to invest ¥120 billion ($1.13 billion) during its next fiscal year on 65nm chip fabrication line using 300mm wafers.

Some ¥36 billion ($340 million) of that total will go toward production lines at IBM's East Fishkill, New York facility.

Of the rest, ¥53 billion ($500 million) will go toward upgrading Sony's Nagasaki fab, and ¥31 billion ($293 million) on a Toshiba plant in Oita, South-west Japan. Toshiba is itself investing ¥42 billion ($397 million) on that facility.

Test production from all three lines will commence during the first half of 2005, IBM said.

The three firms will together ramp up to an output capacity of 15,000 300mm wafers a month, Sony added.

Sony, IBM and Toshiba are jointly developing the 'Cell' microprocessor, expected to be used as the basis for Sony's PlayStation 3. IBM, meanwhile, is also working on the PowerPC-based CPU that will sit at the heart of Microsoft's Xbox 2 - aka Xbox Next - which will go head to head against the PS3.

Both consoles' CPUs are expected to be fabbed at 65nm. The investment is aimed specifically at gearing up for Cell's production.

Sony's 2005 fiscal year commences 1 April. ®

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