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TDK Announces Four-Layer Blu-ray Disc

Garden City, N.Y. — Looking to trump the HD DVD format’s triple-layer disc format, TDK formally announced this week development of a prototype quadruple-layer Blu-ray Disc format capable of storing up to 100GBs, or four high-definition movies.

TDK said the new Blu-ray Disc technology records data at 72Mbps, or double the 36Mbps rate of the current Blu-ray Disc specification.

According to a TDK spokesperson, the company originally showed the technology at a trade show in Japan last month, but felt they needed to make a formal statement at this time to take it “out of the rumor mill.”

The existing Blu-ray Disc specification allows for a 25GB single-layer disc and a 50GB dual-layer disc. The new TDK disc would hold four 25GB layers, good for nine hours of high-definition video.

The announcement comes three weeks after Toshiba announced the development of a triple-layer HD DVD, which would give the Blu-ray Disc-rival a total capacity of 45GBs, close to the 50GB capacity of the Blu-ray’s proposed dual-layer disc format. HD DVD also claims to offer disc replicators an easier and more cost-effective method of transitioning their current DVD production lines to the new format.

Blu-ray backers have long-claimed technological superiority to HD DVD, due, among other things, to Blu-ray’s greater disc capacity, which would enable storage of more extra interactive material.

“Although there’s been considerable speculation regarding next-generation Blu-ray Disc capacities, TDK is the first to successfully achieve 100GB in a working, prototype disc,” Hideki Hirata, TDK’s engineering manager, said in a prepared statement.

TDK said its “advanced sputtering technology played a key role in enabling the creation of the prototype 100GB Blu-ray Disc.” The inorganic film formulation “provides absolute stability with narrow track pitches and high-recording densities used by Blu-ray discs. It was said to have achieved 6x (216Mbps) recording speeds in lab tests of blue-laser media.

TDK has also developed DURABIS hard-coating technology that protects the surface of a Blu-ray Disc to allow bare disc handling without a special disc caddy.

According to a spokesperson for the Blu-ray Disc Association, TDK’s new disc format must still receive BDA approval for inclusion as part of the BD standard. There was no word on when that might be made, or if the approval would be made in time for the technology to be included in first-generation U.S. Blu-ray Disc players or recorders, which are expected in 2006.