TOKYO Sony Corp.'s Nagasaki 300-mm fab has begun test production of Cell processors, Ken Kutaragi, Sony's executive deputy president and COO, acknowledged this week. He declined to elaborate.
Sony and IBM Corp. recently announced joint development of Cell processors for workstations to provide a graphics content creation platform by the end of 2004. The first Cell chips will be fabricated at IBM's Fishkill, N.Y., fab, but Sony is also preparing for volume production of the Cell processor, which will be the core of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.'s (SCEI) next-generation game console.
Construction of the 300-mm pilot line began last spring on the first floor of SCEI's Nagasaki Fab 2. The clean room is complete and partially completed production facilities are processing wafers. Installation of equipment will be completed by the end of the year.
Sony and its game subsidiary has thus far invested ¥115 billion (about $1 billion) in the 300-mm fab to establish a 65-nm process. The fab will serve as Sony's base for manufacturing Cell processors and other devices fabricated with the 65-nm process.
Sony has also invest ¥36 billion (about $321 billion) on IBM's 300-mm silicon-on-insulator line at East Fishkill fab. Once the 65-nm SOI process is established there, Sony intends to duplicate the process at the Nagasaki 300-mm fab.
SCEI's Nagasaki Fabs 1 and 2 served as the production base for core chips for PlayStation 2. But with production processes scaling down, the lines now have surplus capacity and are fabricating other devices such as CMOS sensors.
Sony will integrate the two fabs into its main semiconductor operation in July.