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Japanese CE firms partner on 'standard' CPU project

Intel basher?

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Seven Japanese consumer electronics companies and chip makers are to launch their own CPU.

The unnamed part is still a few years away: according to reports, it'll be out by the end of the partners' 2012 financial - not the same thing as calendar 2012, so probably April 2013 at the earliest.

Co-funded by the Japanese government to the tune of ¥3-4bn (£13-18m/$27-36m/€18-25m), the project's design goal is a part that consumes less than 70 per cent on the energy current consumer electronics chippery does.

There's also talk that the chip will be designed to run on solar power, though that's unlikely to be a suitable power source for much of the kit that the chip is destined to be used in - anything that sits underneath a telly, for instance.

As far as we can tell, the part won't use the x8 instruction set, so claims that the chip is intended to mount a challenge to chip giant Intel seem wide of the mark. Processors from IBM, Freescale, Sony and ARM's manufacturing partners seem to be more at risk than Intel's offerings.

While there's not a great deal of competition in the PC processor market, there's plenty of choice if you're looking for a processor to drive a lesser device.

The seven companies behind the chip are Canon, Fujitsu, Hitachi, NEC, Panasonic, memory specialist Renesas and Toshiba, and they all plan to use the chip to define a standard, presumably to help reduce software development costs - internally if not among third-parties.

Crucially, the cross-company project should ensure the chip is a lot cheaper than current offerings, and that's undoubtedly the key driver behind its creation.

Toshiba already has such a scheme in place with Sony that centres on the Cell CPU used in, for now, Sony's PlayStation 3, but soon HD TVs from Toshiba. ®

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