HD-DVD rewritable standard approved

The DVD Forum has approved the physical disc specifications for the rewritable version of HD-DVDs (High Definition/High Density-DVDs), taking the format an important step nearer to mass production.

At a meeting in Taiwan on Sept. 22, the association approved version 1.0 of the HD-DVD-RW physical specification, which covers a single-layer disc with a capacity of 20G bytes, Junko Furuta, a Toshiba spokeswoman, said Wednesday.

Version 1.0 is the key specification that allows manufacturers to consider mass production of a product involving new technologies.

The association also approved version 0.9 physical specifications for the HD-DVD-R (recordable) disc at the same meeting. The HD-DVD-R discs will be single-layer 15G-byte capacity discs, Furuta said. Version 1.0 is expected to be approved by the association in February 2005, Yoshihide Fujii, president and CEO of Toshiba Digital Media Network Company, said at a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.

The organization approved version 1.0 of the physical specifications for HD-DVD-ROM discs in June this year. HD-DVD-ROMs will be single-layer, 15G-byte discs or dual-layer, 30G-byte discs.

The physical specification defines the physical properties of the disc such as the number of layers and capacity. The application specifications, which define how data signals are written into the structure of the discs, will be decided before the end of February 2005, Furuta said.

The approval is the latest step between two major formats which are battling to replace DVDs with optical discs that store much more data.

Opposing the HD-DVD format, the Blu-ray Disc format is backed by Sony, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, LG Electronics, Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic), Mitsubishi Electric, Philips Electronics, Pioneer Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sharp, TDK and Thomson Multimedia.

Toshiba, along with Memory-Tech, NEC, and Sanyo Electric said Sept. 27 they were forming an association to promote the HD-DVD format.

Sanyo announced in August that it will produce components and players for HD-DVDs. Sanyo cited the HD-DVD format's ease of manufacturing compared to the Blu-ray. The company became the third major Japanese consumer electronics company to opt for HD-DVD, joining NEC and Toshiba. Memory-Tech is a DVD disc maker.

Last week, Sony Computer Entertainment said its upcoming PlayStation 3 games console will be compatible with the Blu-ray Disc format.

Toshiba expects to start commercial sales of HD-DVD players and recorders in the final three months of 2005, with players to cost under US$1,000, according to Furuta.

The DVD Forum is an association of over 220 consumer electronics, entertainment, software and related companies that determines DVD disc specifications. At the meeting in Taiwan it also approved four audio codecs for HD-DVD, Furuta said.

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Paul Kallender

IDG News Service
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