TSMC is going to produce system-on-chip semiconductors for future versions of Microsoft's Xbox. SOCs are highly specialized chips that integrate multiple electronic components required for a product on a single piece of silicon.
The manufacturing agreement also gives Microsoft, of Redmond, Washington, "direct access" to TSMC's process technology, the companies said.
The SOCs will be manufactured by TSMC, using its Nexsys technology. Nexsys is the brand name that TSMC has given to its most advanced process technologies, including the 90-nanometer process that is currently in pilot production and its 65-nanometer process, which is still in development. The most advanced process technology used by TSMC for commercial production is its 130-nanometer process.
J.H. Tzeng, a spokesman for TSMC in Hsinchu, Taiwan, declined to comment on the specific process that will be used to make the Xbox chips. He did not disclose whether the SOCs that TSMC will produce will be designed by Microsoft or another company.
If the Xbox chips are made using a 65-nanometer process, that would match the technology that Sony Corp. plans to use for production of its Cell microprocessor, which will be used in the company's PlayStation 3 game console.
While the first generation of the Xbox mainly uses off-the-shelf PC components, Microsoft has taken a more active role in the development of chips for the next generation of its game console.
In November of last year, the company announced that it had signed technology licensing deals with several companies, including graphics chip vendor ATI Technologies Inc., chipset vendor Silicon Integrated Systems Corp. and IBM Corp., which makes the Power PC processor. Those licensing agreements enable Microsoft to incorporate technology from these companies into SOCs for the next generation of the Xbox.