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  • Sony Computer Executive Discusses New Entertainment Machines
  • March 4, 1999 (TOKYO) -- Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCE) and Toshiba Corp. jointly developed a new microcontroller for use in next-generation entertainment machines.
    The two companies released details of the new device at the International Solid State Circuit Conference (ISSCC '99) held recently in San Francisco, Calif.

    Ken Kutaragi, SCE's executive vice president and co-COO, spoke about the objectives of developing the device in an interview with Nikkei Electronics. Kutaragi took the lead in the commercialization of Sony's popular PlayStation game machine.

    Nikkei Electronics: Is the microcontroller that was jointly developed with Toshiba for use in home video game machines?

    Kutaragi: Game software will be just part of content for the machines that incorporate the microcontroller. The new machines will perform differently than the PlayStation. Thus, such new machines will not necessarily replace the PlayStation.

    Nikkei Electronics: How would you describe the new machines.

    Kutaragi: The new machines will be capable of producing images and music interactively. They can produce high-quality, 3D graphics images equivalent to motion pictures, using conventional TV sets. The PlayStation is sufficient in terms of sound quality, but its image quality is not up to our level of satisfaction.

    Nikkei Electronics: Why was Toshiba selected as your partner?

    Kutaragi: Because Toshiba has engineers with whom we wanted to collaborate. The development of the chip required 238 man-years of staff work. I think that we have developed the best microcontroller in the world.

    Nikkei Electronics: It has a chip area of 17mm x 14.1mm, and many debugging functions. Is that because the chip is for evaluation purposes?

    Kutaragi: The microchip is for evaluation purposes. However, the mass-production version of the chip also will incorporate debugging functions. The chip area will be reduced to about 13mm x 13mm using improved production technologies. And the mass-production version may operate at a faster frequency than 250MHz.

    Nikkei Electronics: How is the rendering IC chip to be combined with the microcontroller?

    Kutaragi: Major makers of graphics IC chips must be surprised by the combination. Its pixel engine, CPU core and DRAM are integrated into a single chip. The prototype of the chip has been already completed. It has a larger chip area than that of the microcontroller. We will release something like it soon.

    *This interview was conducted before the March 2 announcement of SCE's next-generation game machine. For details of the new machine's specifications and release schedule, please click here.

    Related story: Sony, Toshiba Design Microchip for Home Game Machines

    (Nikkei Electronics)

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    Updated: Wed Mar 3 18:56:46 1999 PDT