Sony supposedly selling Cell semiconductor unit

Posted by Mark Raby

Tokyo (Japan) - Sony is reportedly in talks with Toshiba to sell its high-end semiconductor facilities to Toshiba, including its much touted Cell processor.

The Financial Times reports that the two companies are in serious discussion over the acquisition of Sony's fab lines, which would include the production lines for the Cell processor used in the Playstation 3 hardware.

Toshiba and Sony have not confirmed these discussions.  The Financial Times says the cost to Toshiba is expected to he about 100 billion yen (around $866 million).  In developing the Cell processor, Sony invested more than 200 billion yen.

Sony has previously said it plans to slim down on its "non-core" assets, and is moving to a "fab-lite" model.  Following the current industry trend, it is on track to begin outsourcing more of the production for its components.

Toshiba, Japan's largest semiconductor manufacturer, was quoted as saying, "We are considering many options for strengthening our systems LSI operations."  LSI accounts for around 40% of the company's semiconductor revenues.

The reported acquisition talks come at a time of political pressure as well, as Japan's Ministry of Trade, Economy and Industry has called for increased global competitiveness in the semiconductor industry.