Confirming what has been rumored for weeks, Sony today announced an agreement to transfer a pair of its semiconductor fabrication facilities to Toshiba under a new joint venture, reportedly at a price around $858 million.

The new company, yet to be named, is expected to begin operations on April 1 next year and will take over production of the Cell Broadband engine and the RSX graphics engine used in the PlayStation 3. The line currently produces the Cell using a 65-nanometer process technology but will be transitioned to a more advanced 45-nm, meaning the Cell will be smaller, cheaper and consume less power further reducing hardware costs for the PlayStation 3.

Toshiba, with 60 percent stake in the new company, will appoint the chairman and chief executive. The remainder 40 percent stake will be split equally between Sony and SCEI, which will appoint the chief operating officer and president for the company. This is the latest move in CEO Howard Stringer's aggressive plan to cut non-core business as he tries to restore the company's games division profitability.