Sony to sell PS2 chips to other companies

Just as Sony rolled DVD Video player functions into its recently launched PlayStation 2 (PS2) games console to give it a double role, the company has announced it hopes others will soon start building support for PS2 gaming into their consumer electronics products.

Sony offered no more details on the plan, disclosed at a Tokyo press conference last week, except to say that it plans to sell the PS2 chip set - the brain of the PS2 machine - externally. The plan could see a range of consumer electronics products, including televisions and set-top boxes, doubling as PS2 consoles in the future.

The press conference was held to announce plans to build a new semiconductor production line to increase capacity ahead of the launch of the PS2 in markets outside Japan. Such an increase in chip output is also vital if Sony is to satisfy any demand for the chipset from other companies.

The Tokyo-based unit of Sony said it plans to spend 125 billion yen ($2 billion) during the current fiscal year, ending March 2001, to upgrade an existing line, build a new production line and invest in production at the factory of Oita TS Semiconductor (OTSS), a joint venture between Sony and Toshiba.

Construction of the new production line, which will be situated alongside an existing line in western Japan, is scheduled to begin in July. Completion is currently slated for February 2001, with production to begin April 2001.

The new production line will have a capacity of 6000 units per month, and capacity at the existing companion line will be increased from 10,000 units per month to 12,000 units per month. Both lines produce the graphics synthesiser chip for the PS2.

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