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Cell consortium announces further investment

Console giant earmarks 131 billion Yen, consortium partners also invest heavily.

Sony has announced that it is to invest 131 billion Yen (€988m) in chip fabrication facilities for the Cell microprocessor at factories belonging to both itself and Cell consortium partners Toshiba and IBM.

The cash will be used to upgrade production lines in order to allow them to manufacture Cell chips using cutting-edge 65nm fabrication technologies on large 12-inch (300mm) silicon wafers.

53 billion Yen (€400m) is being spent in the coming year on Sony's own plant in Nagasaki prefecture, while the company is also investing 36 billion Yen (€272m) in IBM's fabrication plant in New York and 42 billion Yen (€317m) in Toshiba's plant in Oita prefecture.

Toshiba has announced that it is to match Sony's expenditure on the Oita plant, and is also investing 42 billion Yen there in the coming year. IBM has not revealed the scale of its investment in the Cell line at the New York facility, but it's thought to be on a similar level.

All three production facilities will be fully operational in 2005, with a planned monthly capacity of 15,000 12-inch wafers - each wafer holding hundreds of the Cell microprocessors which will be used to power both the PlayStation 3 and, in future, a range of other consumer devices.

For an initial period, Sony has exclusive purchase rights on all Cell chips produced - a move designed to prevent supplies from being used elsewhere as the company works to fulfil early demand for the PlayStation 3.

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