PowerPC plays an ace with Nintendo deal

PowerPC plays an ace with Nintendo deal
David Manners PowerPC has won its first consumer design win – and it has started at the top. By taking the CPU for the next generation Nintendo machine away from MIPS, PowerPC has bagged up one of the most valuable design-ins in consumer electronics. “Over the next ten years we could be supplying $10bn worth of chips,” Guillaume D’Eyssautier IBM Microelectronics’ European general manager, told EW. IBM is to supply a discrete chip to Nintendo – not a core. It will be made on IBM’s 0.18?m copper process and will run at 400MHz. Called Gekko, the chip will be sampled before the year end. IBM is refusing to say whether or not it is able to sell Gekko to other companies. The news is a substantial blow to both MIPS and NEC. MIPS has been the architecture in previous Nintendo machines and 75 per cent of MIPS’ revenues come from that application. NEC has been the manufacturer of the MIPS processors for Nintendo. It has had a close liaison with Nintendo and funded a group of ex-Silicon Graphics designers in a Silicon Valley start-up called Sandcraft to design microprocessors for the Nintendo machine. IBM pointed to the availability of 0.18?m and copper technologies as the key factors in gaining the design win. Gekko will run in conjunction with a graphics co-processor being designed by ArtX of Palo Alto. The two-company Nintendo CPU development mirrors the project to develop the CPU for Nintendo’s main rival, the next generation Sony Playstation, where Toshiba is developing the CPU and Sony Semiconductor is developing the graphics engine. Sony has sold 50 million of its Playstations over the past three years. Nintendo claims to have sold over one billion video games worldwide.


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