Toshiba develops 30G-byte rewritable optical disc

Toshiba has developed a new rewritable optical disc with a capacity of 30G bytes per-layer, per-side and a companion read/write optical head that incorporates a blue laser, the company announced on Monday. These new developments will be publicly unveiled at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which begins in Las Vegas on Jan. 8.

The new optical disc, which measures 12 centimeters in diameter, has a capacity of more than six times that of a similar-sized DVD (digital versatile disc) disc, which has a single-sided capacity of 4.7G bytes. The new disc allows for recording of three hours of high-definition digital video, a Toshiba statement said.

Blue lasers have a wavelength of 405 nanometers, shorter than that of red lasers, which have a wavelength of around 650 nanometers and are used for reading and writing DVD and CD discs. The shorter wavelength means the laser can register smaller dots on a disc and more data can be stored. As a result, blue laser technology has been adopted for the development of next generation optical discs.

Toshiba is not alone with its development. Other Japanese companies have had similar breakthroughs using blue laser technology at the R&D level. Sony Corp jointly developed a 22.5G-byte optical disc with Pioneer Corp. in 2000 and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. succeeded in storing up to 25G bytes of data on each layer of a single-sided, dual-layer 12-centimeter disc.

The capacity of Toshiba's new disc can be doubled with the use of a second layer. However, the company hopes to initially keep it as a single layered disc so that it can be commercialized sooner, said Midori Suzuki, a spokeswoman for Toshiba.

"First of all, we will try to standardize this new development by presenting it at the DVD Forum," she said. Then the company plans to commercialize the product when high-definition digital TV broadcasting starts in Japan, which is expected next year, Suzuki said.

At the same time, the company will also target the format for use in personal computers. Other companies are focusing more on using the discs in audiovisual devices, Suzuki said.

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