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NEC Develops First Next-Gen DVD Drive

From NEC’s press release:

NEC Corporation today announced development of technology capable of recording and playing back both current DVDs and next generation DVDs (HD DVD – High Definition & High Density DVD) with a single optical head, and its success in creating a compatible drive based on this technology.

With the spread of high-resolution digital images, big-screen displays, and the start of terrestrial digital TV broadcasting it is anticipated that the need for integration of high-resolution content into DVDs in the home and PCs will grow. As current DVD software has spread rapidly the need for compatibility with current DVDs is an important consideration factor. To date challenges have included the need for two optical heads to develop a device that can play/record both current and next generation DVDs. Success in creating a device with a single optical head enables production of smaller and thinner HD DVDs at a lower cost.

Through this research NEC has realized a HD DVD device with a single optical head that is the same size as current DVDs but which achieves 4 times the storage capacity of current DVDs. It is expected that this will enable smooth transition from current DVDs to HD DVDs.

Development was enabled by the following technology:

1. Compatible head technology developed by using two lasers, the blue laser diode and the red laser diode, as the light source, thus enabling both current DVD and HD DVD discs to be played on a single objective lens.
2. Realization of system operation by overcoming the physical format difference between DVD and HD DVD with functional compatibility by developing large scale LSI.
3. On-going development of playback signal processing technology.
4. Realization of system operation by utilizing current DVD drive system functions.

NEC and Toshiba have proposed jointly developed next-generation large-capacity DVD (HD DVD) technology, which has blue laser diodes (LDs) as its light source, as the next-generation DVD format to the DVD Forum. Two HD DVD format specifications are currently being promoted for standardization. One is the ROM (read-only-memory) disc with 15GB of storage capacity on a single layer and 30GB on dual layers and the other is the rewritable disc with 20GB of storage capacity. In November, the DVD Forum’s steering committee approved the proposed HD DVD-ROM format in version 0.9.

Features of the HD DVD include:

(1) The ability to respond to the Contents-Media industry by sharing manufacturing infrastructure for current DVDs, thereby reducing manufacturing costs.
(2) Realization of a compatibility function enabling the playback of current DVDs.
(3) A cartridge-less disc structure the same as the current DVD, thus making it possible to realize a thin drive suitable for mounting on notebook PCs and adaptable to various optical discs.
(4) Realization of dual-layer large-capacity discs with the same 0.6 mm disc bonded structure as current DVDs, which are considered to be the best format for users, disc manufacturers, contents makers and drive makers.

Expecting that this technology will improve HD DVD significantly, NEC plans to further advance its technology to promote product development. NEC will display the above accomplishments at the International Consumer Electronics Show (2004 International CES) from January 8 to 11, 2004 in Las Vegas, U.S.A.