The Cell processor has been both a boon and a burden for Sony. The high-octane processor at the heart of the PlayStation 3 has given Sony's console a competitive edge in performance potential for the current generation of gaming hardware. However, its development has also inflicted a significant dent on the Japanese electronics giant's bottom line, costing Sony approximately $1.7 billion alone, according to recent estimates by financial news service Bloomberg.
Last month, Sony confirmed speculation that it would be selling its stake in Cell manufacturing plants to development partner Toshiba. Although financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, Bloomberg reported that the deal will raise $860 million for Sony once final details are arrived upon in March 2008.
This week, Nikkei reports that Sony plans to cease participation in the Cell processor's future iterations. Along with partners IBM and Toshiba, Sony has been researching 32nm and 45nm successors to the Cell processor, which is currently made using a 65nm process--an improvement from the original 90nm process. Sony is currently in negotiations with IBM and Toshiba on the exact date and terms of the pullout. The two reportedly plan to continue development on the chips.
Having cut its involvement with the Cell, Sony reportedly plans to ramp up development on CCD and CMOS image-sensor technology, which is most notably used in digital cameras. Nikkei reports that Sony will invest approximately $720 million in the next three years to expand production of image sensors at its plant in Kikuyo Kumamoto Prefecture.