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China downplays new format's challenge to DVD

Posted: 12 Aug 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:video disk? dvd? EVD? Enhanced Versatile Disk? consumer electronic?

Brushing off claims that it is trying to avoid royalty payments to U.S., Japanese, and European companies, a Chinese government-backed research developing next-generation video-disk technology is reporting progress on a new format called Enhanced Versatile Disk (EVD).

Beijing E-World Technology, a collaboration of about 10 Chinese DVD manufacturers, is conducting research sponsored by China's Ministry of Information Industry and the State Economic and Trade Commission. A goal is to develop EVD intellectual property that would allow resolution five times higher than DVDs while helping China's consumer electronics industry escape full royalty payments to the DVD Forum.

However, Hao Jie, E-World Technology's general manager, said EVD is not intended as a competitor to the DVD standard. "EVD is by no means the so-called 'super DVD' or a contender to DVD," Hao said. "EVD is a brand-new technology architecture standard intended for home-media electronics, somewhat similar to the MHP [Multimedia Home Platform], an open and interactive broadcast standard used in Europe."

While EVD has its own development time frame, Hao said it is "currently compatible with DVD for the sake of market transition. EVD does not intentionally evade the basic patents in DVD, such as MPEG-2, patents in video disk owned by Philips and Thomson. But the patent fees involved are less."

He added that EVD also would not require use of the Content Scrambling System, Dolby AC-3, and other patented technologies "since its architecture is different from DVD."

Hao said technical progress on the EVD format includes development of a proprietary control chip that contains patented technology and manufacturing know-how. Other IP being developed includes the format itself, audio, a network interface, and plug-and-play functionality, said Hao. Some components of the new format could be available as products by the end of the year, and work has begun on a single-chip system that integrates new features.

China announced more than a year ago that it was developing a format, called Advanced Versatile Disc, that it said would be used only in the Greater China region, which includes Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. In April, 19 Taiwanese companies came up with their own next-generation standard, EVD, which is basically compatible with China's. The capacity potential is about 1GB higher than that of today's single-sided, one- and two-layer DVDs. Current red-laser technology would be used.

Hao said Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute, the DVD Forum and leading consumer electronics manufacturers are involved in the formulation of the EVD standard. "We have been taking an active part in promoting coordination within the industrial circle," he said.

EVD backers in China are promoting the format as a technology system to be applied to home interactive devices like the Playstation and Xbox game consoles. Hence, they estimate the total market for EVD in China - including video-disk players, home terminal devices and support for high-definition TV services - could approach $4.8 billion.

Hao said parts of the EVD format overlap with DVD patents but most do not, and for the overlapping areas, "patent fees should be paid." But he emphasized that DVD is a "big system" and that a new format need not be compatible with the entire DVD format to work. "Which parts should be compatible depends on which parts are commonly used by consumers. Then it is left for manufacturers to make the final choice."

EVD aims to eventually go beyond DVD. The "global market is certainly our final target after we finish our steps in the domestic-market journey," concluded Hao.

- Lucy Liang

Electronic Engineering Times - Asia

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