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Toshiba, NEC In New DVD Format Pact

Tokyo – Toshiba and NEC have joined forces in support of a new high density DVD format that could rival the pending Blue-ray Disc format supported by a group of nine companies led by Sony, according to published reports here.

The new standard, which is based on the current DVD disc structure, is said to be capable of storing over four times the data of the current DVDs, or up to 25 hours of standard definition television broadcasts. The companies plan to officially propose their format to the DVD Forum, an international organization comprising more than 200 companies, according to reports.

Last February, a group of nine companies announced support of the Blue-ray Disc format. The consortium, including Sony, Matsushita, Hitachi, LG Electronics, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp and Thomson, hope their next generation optical disc format, with its up to 50GB of capacity, will be capable of recording high definition format video programming, among other things.

Although at 40GB, the Toshiba-NEC disc offers less capacity, the companies say discs will be less expensive to produce than Blue-ray Discs, and will use a structure similar to DVDs, enabling their use with current DVD production equipment. Toshiba and NEC are said to be planning to launch the first disc for computer data storage next year, with unspecified A/V applications coming some time after that.

Both formats call for use of 5-inch optical discs that are capable of recording, rewriting and reading data. Both formats will also use blue laser technology, which offers a shorter wavelength than red lasers to read more densely packed pit alignments on discs than are used with conventional DVDs, according to reports.

As this was published, Toshiba executives in the United States were still unaware of the specifications for the proposed format.