Sony has acquired a Japanese factory operated by the semiconductor manufacturer Renesas Electronics, a plant that currently produces the eDRAM chip for the Wii U, in order to expand its imaging business, the companies announced this week.
Sony expects to spend a total of approximately 35 billion yen ($342.32 million) on the transaction. That includes 7.5 billion yen during the 2013 fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2014, for the acquisition of the Renesas plant located in the city of Tsuruoka in Yamagata Prefecture. The remaining 27.5 billion yen will be invested in the factory during Sony's 2014 and 2015 fiscal years (between April 1, 2014, and March 31, 2016).
Renesas announced last August that it intended to close the Tsuruoka plant as part of a restructuring plan amid a downturn for the company. At the time, Nintendo said (via DualShockers) that the potential closure "won't have immediate effects on the production of the Wii U."
According to a press release from Sony, the company will use the factory, which will henceforth be known as the Yamagata Technology Center under Sony Semiconductor Corp., to build CMOS image sensors for smartphones and tablets. Sony plans to use the 27.5 billion yen investment for two objectives: Part of the semiconductor manufacturing equipment that Sony is acquiring will be converted to equipment for making CMOS sensors, and Sony will also install new equipment to manufacture those sensors. This is part of Sony's mid- to long-term plan to expand its production capacity for image sensors.
Once Renesas completes the transfer of its Tsuruoka assets to Sony, which is expected to occur by March 31, Sony Semiconductor Corp. will continue to produce certain semiconductors — such as, perhaps, the Wii U's eDRAM chip — at the Yamagata Technology Center for Renesas "for a certain period of time," according to the press release. After that period, Renesas will either shift that semiconductor manufacturing to its Naka plant, located in the city of Hitachinaka in Ibaraki prefecture, or end production altogether.
We're reaching out to Nintendo for more details, and will update this article with any information we receive.