New book details how Microsoft used Sony’s Cell processor for the Xbox 360

David Shippy and Mickie Phipps’ new book “The Race for a New Game Machine” has all the videogames industry drama that a person could ask for. The Wall Street Journal recently put up a tight synopsis of the book, detailing how Microsoft was able to nab fundamental specifications for the Cell and have their own chip created around them for the Xbox 360.

According to the book, Sony decided that the Playstation 3 needed to have a brand new processor, unlike anything their previous consoles featured before. In 2001, a partnership was formed between Sony, Toshiba, and IBM to create the chip from scratch. In 2002, Microsoft (looking to build the 360) went to IBM, saw some of the key specs for the unreleased Cell, and contracted IBM to build a processor around those specifications to put into the 360.

The kicker is that Microsoft ended up winning the time war, without having to spend the R&D money that Sony did. Because of a manufacturing error with the first round of chips that Microsoft protected itself against, they were able to release their console in 2005 – Sony’s original target year.

This book doesn’t have spies, ninjas, Master Chief, or pictures of cats in precarious positions with hilariously misspelled captions to explain the predicament. It does have an awesome story to tell, though.

Brad BradNicholson