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DVD format battle shifts to Japan's CEATEC show

Posted: 06 Oct 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:hd dvd? blu-ray? dvd? toshiba? japan?

Opposing camps in the HD DVD-Blu-ray Disc format battle dug in this Tokyo suburb this week at Japan's largest electronics show, CEATEC, to promote their version of the future of high-definition video.

With Paramount Home Entertainment's announcement earlier in the week that it will back the Blu-ray format while also planning to market its DVD movies in the competing HD DVD format, the format war has, if anything, grown more uncertain.

HD DVD proponents stressed its readiness. The format is scheduled to be ready in Japan by the end of the year, although overseas introduction has been postponed until next spring. The HD DVD booth here displayed nearly 60 movie titles, including some Hollywood movies, together with HD DVD-Video player prototypes by Toshiba, Sanyo and Thomson. Toshiba's slim (12.7- mm height) drive for notebook PCs was also shown.

The Bly-ray booth countered by highlighting a growing list of supporters. BD-ROM player prototypes from nine manufacturers lined the CEATEC booth. BD-ROM disk playback was also demonstrated.

Twenty-four of 148 Blu-ray Disc Association members exhibited at the BD booth, according to Matsushita's Soichiro Mima, manager of its Advanced Technology Integration Team, who is also acting as the vice chairman of the BD promotion committee in Japan.

Version 1.0 of the BD-ROM physical layer was completed in June 2004, but a logical ROM format is still being debated. A final version is expected by the end of 2005. "We are taking the time to include ample new functions, not available with DVD, to the BD-ROM format," said Mima.

Though disk capacity remains a hot technical issue, recording capacity for HD DVD may end up at a maximum of 30 Gbytes using a dual-layer disk, not 40 Gbytes, according to information released here. Toshiba developed a three-layer ROM disk with 45-Gbyte capacity, but the recordable format has not yet been announced.

The HD DVD product family will have two types of rewritable disks called "-RW" (rewritable) and, tentatively, "-RR" (re-recordable). HD DVD-RW corresponds with DVD-RAM, and is suitable for random- access applications. HD DVD-RR will be suitable for serial access, such as video recording.

The HD DVD-RR disk, which has a 15-Gbyte capacity with a single layer and 30 Gbytes with a dual layer, was proposed to the DVD Forum as a format for HD DVD.

A HD DVD-RW single-layer disk with 20-Gbyte capacity was approved as part of the HD DVD disk family by the DVD Forum in September 2004. The dual-layer version was expected to have a 40-Gbyte capacity, but has since been cut by 20 percent to 32 Gbytes. "Through experiments, we found the same difficulty in the dual-layer writable disk as in the dual-layer DVD disks. So we reduced the capacity," said Hisashi Yamada, corporate senior vice president at Toshiba Corp. and a leader of pro-HD DVD camp. "Technically, the disk can have over 30 Gbytes, but it is not yet clear whether the dual-layer disk will be proposed for standardization," Yamada said.

- Yoshiko Hara

EE Times

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