Blue-Laser Storage Moves Closer to Reality
Toshiba and NEC are putting the finishing touches to a
Announcement of the new system, which is expected sometime this or next week, will mark the beginning of a new format battle in the industry, the foundations of which were set earlier this year when a group of nine companies proposed a next-generation format called
Toshiba and NEC, neither of which were among the nine companies that developed the Blu-ray format, are in the "nearly final stage" of completing their proposal for the replacement for DVD, says Midori Suzuki, a spokesperson for Toshiba. An official announcement from the companies together with details of the format is expected sometime this or next week, Suzuki says.
With DVD already established as a consumer video format and slowly gaining ground as a recordable format, the industry has been turning its sights on blue-laser systems.
Data is recorded on an optical disc using a beam of laser light. Because blue lasers have a shorter wavelength than the red lasers are used in CD and DVD systems, the size of the light spot made on the disc is smaller and so less space is required to store each bit of data. This means the
Blu-ray discs will be rewritable, 4.7-inch discs and have a data capacity of around 27GB, enough for two hours of high-definition digital television. In comparison, today's DVDs can store around 5GB of data per side. No details of the capacity of the format planned by Toshiba and NEC are yet available.
Blue lasers are still prohibitively expensive, but a handful of companies have announced plans to begin producing the lasers en masse, a move that is expected to reduce the price to less than $100 per laser, from today's price of around $1,000.
For consumers, such systems are still some way off, and their appearance could be delayed by the squabbling over formats. The nine companies that have proposed Blu-ray include six companies that helped develop DVD: Hitachi, Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic), Philips Electronics, Pioneer Electronics, Sony, and Thomson Multimedia. They have been joined by Sharp and South Korea's LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics.
The situation is somewhat similar to the one that preceded the development of DVD. Before a consensus was reached for a replacement to the CD for video applications, two formats were slugging it out: Super Density from Toshiba and Matsushita, and Multimedia Compact Disc from Sony and Philips.
It also mirrors the battle in the