Blu-ray support hinges on disc copy, says Intel

Intel, which last week announced support for HD-DVD, could also support Blu-ray Disc if it adds certain features, an executive said Tuesday.

Intel, which last week expressed support for the HD-DVD format for high-definition video discs, is open to also supporting the rival Blu-ray Disc format should its backers commit to allowing the copying of content from discs onto home multimedia servers, an Intel executive said Tuesday.

Intel's decision to join the HD-DVD Promotion Group and come out in favor of the format, which it did together with Microsoft, was a departure from the company's usual stance of technology neutrality.

The decision was born out of a belief that the interests of consumers are being ignored as the world's largest consumer electronics, computer and content companies prepared to bring two competing and incompatible high-definition optical disc formats to market, said Donald McDonald, vice president and general manager of Intel's digital home group. He was speaking at a news conference at the Ceatec exhibition in Chiba, Japan, on Tuesday.

The HD-DVD group, led by Toshiba, NEC and Sanyo Electric, is planning to put its system on the market in late December in Japan, while the Blu-ray Disc group, led by Sony and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (Panasonic), is planning to launch its system in 2006. Both are vying to replace DVD as the de facto standard for high-definition movie discs.

"The reason we provided support for HD-DVD is that basically it has committed to several features. Specifically, the mandatory managed copy," said McDonald.

Mandatory managed copy guarantees that consumers will be able to copy the content on their discs to home servers so that it can be accessed from around the home. It will also mean movies can be copied onto portable devices for viewing on-the-go.

"We have not heard an unequivocal statement from the Blu-ray camp to say that you'll be able to have mandatory managed copy without any kind of complications and any kind of issues. So we could be thrilled if they were able to deliver a similar commitment," McDonald said. "The opportunity is for Blu-ray to unequivocally commit to having exactly the same consumer friendly features."

Intel's statement of support doesn't mean its technology won't work with Blu-ray Disc. Like other technologies the company will build the technical support required for the format into its chipsets and devices, he said.

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