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TDK Stacks Up 100GB Blu-ray Storage

David Utter
Expert Author
Published: 2005-05-20

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A prototype of the new DVD arrived in Tokyo yesterday, and it doubles the first generation Blu-ray capacity of 50GB.

The Blu-ray Disc Association has standardized a DVD format where two layers of the disc hold about 25GB each of data. There is no current standard for more than 2 layers yet.

According to a MacWorld report, TDK advanced the timetable for increasing the number of available layers by a couple of years. Discs using four layers were not intended to be available until 2007.

But TDK, holding a Tokyo exhibition of its technology, brought along their Blu-ray prototype. And the prototype can record faster than the current standard (72Mbps vs 36Mbps) in addition to its expanded storage capacity.

According to a TDK spokesman, the company made the increase in storage possible by using a more powerful blue laser, and by making some changes to the material of the recording layer of the disc.

TDK will now propose its standard to the Blu-ray Disc Association for adoption. Standards for single layer and two layer discs currently exist. The single layer Blu-ray disc can hold 135 minutes of high-definition video in MPEG-2 format, and still have room for two hours of standard video.

The introduction of four layer discs once again complicates the conflict between backers of the Blu-ray technology, like Sony, and competing backers of a different standard, HD-DVD, as promoted by Toshiba.

Toshiba had touted a recent update to its standard, by adding another layer to its disc to make it three layers with 45GB of storage. That had made the competition with Sony a closer one, but this development widens the gap again.

Matsushita's president called upon Toshiba
to discontinue its fight over DVD formats. Reports of a possible compromise between Toshiba and Sony were denied by Toshiba, as both companies prepare to bring their respective technologies to the market.

Toshiba will likely introduce DVD players this year with HD-DVD format support. And Sony's forthcoming PlayStation 3, the star of the E3 Expo in Los Angeles, will be equipped with Blu-ray technology.

But the companies run a risk of alienating their potential markets and losing out on sales with their battle, now going on for three years. Dueling formats bring back memories of the damaging VHS versus Betamax wars in the early days of video cassette recorders.

By failing to reach a compromise, like the one reported where Blu-ray would become the new standard and Toshiba would produce the software needed for playback and digital rights management, they run the risk of consumers opting out of purchasing a new blue laser DVD player until a standard format emerges.

Electronics companies and Hollywood concerns have been watching the competition closely, and are certain to be attempting to influence both camps behind-the-scenes to find a solution before the valuable fourth quarter holiday shopping season.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

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