Semi-conductor giant IBM has won the contract to produce the Sony PlayStation 3 micro-processors, ahead of stiff competition from competing manufacturer Toshiba, who built the "Emotion Engine" which currently occupies PS2s the world over. The new chip will be created with the so-called broadband era in mind, although by choosing to go down this route, Sony does rather leave its fate in the hands of domestic telecommunications operators and their rollout plans for advanced Internet services. Sega banked on its Dreamcast arriving in time for the broadband revolution, and after failing to do so, the technology has had to be rebranded in set-top boxes and abandoned as a console format. Nevertheless IBM and Sony are very excited about the announcement, and Toshiba will still be involved, contributing with part of the £400m PlayStation 3 development costs. The IBM-fabbed chip will not go into production until 2004, but the idea is to produce a "supercomputer on a chip", which as you may well remember was the original claim for the Emotion Engine. IBM have claimed that the result of the R&D will be "consumer devices that are more powerful than IBM's Deep Blue super-computer, operate at low power and access the broadband internet at ultra-high speeds". Sony has already agreed to license 0.10 micron fabrication technology from IBM. Eager to distance themselves from irate PlayStation 2 users who want Sony to focus on their console rather than on future projects, Sony issued a statement through a spokesman, who said that "This isn't just an extension of what we've done in the past" and that the system will be "fundamentally different". Toshiba and IBM are also now bound by memorandum of understanding to develop 0.13 micron-sized dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips for the Playstation 2 console, which may well be distributed in the same form as Nintendo's famous N64 RAMBUS "expansion pak", which helps games like "Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask" to realise their full potential. The extra DRAM will help Sony reach its goal of equipping PlayStation 2 with internet access, in Japan at least. Once again though, they rely on domestic telecommunications companies to help them out. Strategic alliances with NTT DoCoMo and similar companies abroad may help them to success, in light of the Sega Dreamcast's failure in this field. Five years down the line, everyone will be equipped with high-speed Internet access, or so say IBM, Toshiba and Sony. Perhaps by then the question will not be whether broadband is able to keep up with Sony though, but more whether Sony can keep up with broadband. Related Feature - Broadband Consoles - A Pipe Dream?
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