How Sony helped Microsoft produce Xbox 360 chip

An article in The Wall Street Journal details how Sony gave Microsoft a leg up in the console race during the development of the Xbox 360 and PS3. Based on a book entitled ‘The Race for a New Game Machine’ by David Shippy and Mickie Phipps, the story explains how IBM sold key parts of the Cell processor it was developing with Sony for PS3, to Microsoft. This effectively means that Sony helped pay for the Xbox 360 to be developed. Oops!

According to the story, “In 2003, IBM’s Adam Bennett showed Microsoft specs for the still-in-development Cell core. Microsoft was interested and contracted with IBM for their own chip, to be built around the core that IBM was still building with Sony. All three of the original partners had agreed that IBM would eventually sell the Cell to other clients. But it does not seem to have occurred to Sony that IBM would sell key parts of the Cell before it was complete and to Sony’s primary videogame console competitor. The result was that Sony’s R&D money was spent creating a component for Microsoft to use against it.”

‘The Race for a New Game Machine’ (Citadel, 240 pages, $21.95) details the entire next-gen console development war through the creation of the processors that run it. As boring and techy as that sounds, it looks like this could be a decent read.