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IBM microprocessors to power Wii

Broadway chips going to Nintendo

IBM has begun shipping millions of microprocessors to Nintendo, keeping the gaming company on track to launch its Wii gaming console as early as November.

The news comes two days after Nintendo competitor Sony revealed it would deliver only half the number of PlayStation 3 video game consoles by the holiday shopping season that its customers had expected.

IBM has been shipping chips throughout the third quarter, and has reached high-volume production, the company said yesterday.

IBM's new 'Broadway' chip is a 90nm (nanometre) process version of the 180nm architecture 'Gekko' chip that Nintendo has been using in its GameCube console since 2001. IBM was secretive about further details of the new chip, saying only that it has a Power Architecture core specially modified for the Wii platform, and that it draws 20 percent less power than Gekko while boosting performance.

But one thing is sure: the Wii deal will earn a lot of revenue for IBM. Nintendo has shipped 20 million units of its GameCube since it launched, and IBM expects that volume to continue with the next-generation Wii platform, said Ron Martino, director of IBM's technology collaboration solutions unit.

In fact, console vendors are expected to ship 135 million gaming units over the next seven years, and IBM will build the chips for most of those platforms, since it also makes the chips for Nintendo's competitors, Sony's PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360, Martino added.

"With the combination of the three main gaming consoles in the world, we more or less dominate this segment," he said. "It's hard to complain about being in the games business."


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