News Article

Sony Considering Purchase of Factory That Manufactured Wii U eDRAM

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Not really a DRAMa

Occasionally we post news articles not necessarily to reveal anything thrilling, but to try and steady uncertainty making its way around the web that, potentially, isn't quite based on solid ground. When dealing with issues of manufacturing embedded DRAM for Wii U consoles in Japan, figuring out the realities of a situation is unsurprisingly tricky.

In any case, there are reports that Sony is in talks with Renesas Electronics Corp over a potential purchase of the company's Tsuruoka factory; this is to ramp up production of Sony's CMOS technology, a smartphone camera sensor that's a major earner for the company. As Bloomberg reports, Sony's exploring the option of purchasing this plant alongside the alternative of building its own new facilities elsewhere; at this stage they're only initial discussions.

Why's this relevant for Nintendo? It is and it likely isn't. You may have seen reports and comments around the web that the Wii U's embedded DRAM component is manufactured at the factory in question, but it seems that Nintendo's previously shifted production of the component to another major manufacturing company called TMSC. Frankly, the source for this points to Nikkei's home page, but links and online conversations from that time (August 2013) suggest it happened.

Solid, reliable news on this is hard to come by for a simple reason; this is everyday manufacturing business. Plants close, re-prioritise or otherwise, and companies such as Nintendo always look for efficiency savings and the best manufacturing opportunities to cut costs — just observe how the 3DS (even after its heavy price cut in 2011) went from a manufacturing loss to profitability in the second half of 2012.

So there are two scenarios that we can see: Nintendo's eDRAM manufacturing has indeed switched to TSMC and this potential Sony purchase has little to no relevance, or in the event of the potential purchase impacting manufacturing, Nintendo will move elsewhere or strike a deal with Sony; it's likely got a good stockpile of the part in question, too. The latter (deal with Sony or change) seems unlikely in light of the TSMC angle, but it should also be acknowledged that major companies work together and contract each other regularly; they may compete with products, but the nitty-gritting of manufacturing sees corporate behemoths often sharing contracts with each other.

Bearing all of that in mind, and the fact that Renesas initially began to discuss closure and selling the facility back in August, it's highly unlikely this will be an issue for Wii U manufacturing. It's notable that not one of the Japanese industry sources reporting on this potential Sony acquisition (that we were able to translate) mention Nintendo in any way, reinforcing that this is a standard part of manufacturing business.

Unless we hear otherwise with compelling evidence, we'd suggest that reports on this matter shouldn't overly concern Nintendo fans.


From the web

User Comments (26)



TreesenHauser said:

I, too, can't wait to play Super Mario 3D World. Playing previous Mario games for the majority of this month leading up to Christmas when I'll finally play it



DreamOn said:

@Thomas, your attention to detail is as always, very apparent. I shall not worry.

But... Should I worry now that my day one Renesas outfitted Wii U is any little bit less quality than a TSMC?



rjejr said:

Considering how much Apple manufacturing is done by Samsung while Apple is suing Samsung for bilions of $ I wouldn't worry at all about who owns what factory. And Sony and Nintendo get along a whole lot better than Apple and Samsung.



creepingdeth21 said:

@TreesenHauser yeah! super mario 3D world is extemely fun, extremely beautiful and a really great purchase. my family and I are in love with it haha. Listen to the squirrel...



Socar said:

@Big_L91 While I do want to get the game, I cannot help but think that this plays a lot like 3D Land.......But I'll still get the game.....eventually :/



Rafie said:

@mostro328 That's because it is. I have every single Mario (excluding Virtual Boy games) to date and played all of them. I can concur this is certainly better than Galaxy (which is saying a lot) in my opinion. Still, my favorite 2 Marios are SMB3 and SMB World. I believe this game ranks up there with those 2 and Mario 64.



Socar said:

@Rafie But no matter what, I still think 64 was the best and my personal favorite. But then again, its opinions. Also have you played all 200 mario games or you're just talking about super mario series? Cause I barely reached 100!!!!!!! And I still have to get the Wii U super mario's which is the only super mario section left for me.



ULTRA-64 said:

Dram manufacturing would not be done at the same factory as camera sensors, complete different processes......all they have in common is they're both made in tech labs. Just to shut that door



TingLz said:

@rjejr I have actually rarely seen Sony and Nintendo at each other's throats since the fallout in the 90s that lead to the Playstation. They've actually been kind to each other.



unrandomsam said:

If edram is when it is on the same die how can it be done by anybody other than who makes the CPU ?



unrandomsam said:

@Rafie Have you got the Hudson one ? When you finished 3D World did you get any sort of contentment or did you still want more ? (When I finished 3 and World properly then that was enough for me for quite a while - I never get that with Nintendo produced Mario games any more don't know whether it is by design or not. I did get it with Donkey Kong Country Returns when I finished it completely).



Gold_Ranger said:

The biggest question I have is since Nintendo was able to Optimize the RAM really well, will Sony, if they purchase the company, now have access to the Specs of the Chip?



element187 said:

@Artwark your doing yourself a disfavor of holding off on this title. It is nothing like 3D Land,.. The only thing the two have in common is the word 3D in the title.

The level design is just amazing.... I think we are seeing some of the very best EAD Tokyo has done. I still play several levels a day even though I beat the regular campaign last week... It's that good. I went back to play Galaxy and Galaxy 2 today and SM3DW could be the best 3d Mario to date. If Nintendo ever announces dlc for it, say goodnight. It would take the crown.



Socar said:

@element187 I said I'll get the game ok. I too am excited for this game a LOT and I do want to play it but its still not out in Dubai yet and after seeing from how long to beat site, the game sounds very short. But I WILL GET THE GAME STILL!! AS SOON AS ITS OUT IN DUBAI because my Dad said it wasn't there yet.



AugustusOxy said:

Sounds like Sony's typical strategy. Sony is like the two-faced cheerleader in highschool. Pretends to be everyone's friends but can't wait to stab them in the back.

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