Ricoh has announced that they've started shipping samples of their BD-R and HD DVD-R media to hardware manufacturers. Thanks to Ricoh-developed inorganic recording materials, these new discs offer high reliability when both reading and writing.

Ricoh Co., Ltd has developed recordable disks for Blue-ray Disk and HD DVD, the next-generation DVD formats, and starts shipping samples to hardware manufacturers.

The samples to be shipped are BD-R and HD DVD-R, write-once disks for Blue-ray Disk and HD DVD respectively. They have a capacity of 25 GB (BD-R) and 15 GB (HD DVD-R), approximately three to five times that of current disks.

By employing highly sensitive inorganic recording materials and high-precision stampers newly developed for next-generation recordable DVDs, Ricoh was able to achieve high reliability when writing and reading data. This will provide an advantage in further speed increases and multilayer structures.
Ricoh plans to ship their newly developed BD-R and HD DVD-R to consumers by the end of the year. More information can be found here. Add a comment
As we reported yesterday, CMC Magnetics reported a fire at one of their manufacturing facilities. While the fire damaged one of their smaller plants, it accounts for 10% of CMC's overall CD-R capacity which could worsen an already tight CD-R supply.
The optical disc maker said the plant, located at Yangmei, Taoyuan County, is a relatively smaller plant. Although CMC stressed that the plant's structure, equipment, and goods are fully insured, sources said CMC's monthly capacity will be reduced by about nine million units due to the fire.

The plant accounted for 10% of CMC's overall CD-R capacity and CMC's CD-R discs mainly support demand from major international brands, the sources stated. Since it takes at least three months to have CD-R discs validated, second-tier makers will not be able to absorb those orders and major competitors Ritek and Prodisc Technology will be the indirect beneficiaries of the fire, the sources indicated.
Needless to say, you can expect CD-R prices to rise next quarter. If you'd like to read more, head on over to DigiTimes. Add a comment
NVIDIA has announced the availability of their new PureVideo technology. With PureVideo, H.264 decoding tasks are divided between the GPU and CPU, offering a smoother frame rate and better image quality than with a CPU alone.
NVIDIA Corporation (Nasdaq: NVDA), the worldwide leader in programmable graphics processing technologies, today announced the immediate availability of new NVIDIA PureVideo technology enabling comprehensive support for high-definition video including hardware acceleration for content based on the advanced H.264 specification.

H.264, which is also known as the Advanced Video Codec (AVC) specification or MPEG-4 Part 10, is one of the digital video codecs specified for the Blu-ray (BD) and High Definition DVD (HD DVD) formats. H.264 delivers two to three times the compression efficiency of the MPEG-2 standard, which is used to create current DVD videos. H.264 has been adopted by both the DVD Forum for HD DVDs and the Blu-ray Disc Association for Blu-ray Discs, and VC-1 has also been adopted by the DVD Forum for HD DVDs.
NVIDIA PureVideo with H.264 support is available now and can be downloaded from their website. Otherwise more information on the technology can be found here. Add a comment
CyberLink has announced that they will be showcasing their new next-generation disc and digital TV solutions at CeBIT later this month. Here's part of their press release:
CyberLink Corp. (TSE:5203.TW - News), a leader in Digital Home solutions, today revealed its product line-up for CeBIT 2006, including software for burning and playing high-definition Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD content, products for sharing media within the digital home, premium content protection, and a world cup digital TV solution.

"As one of the world's preeminent IT events, CeBIT is a great opportunity to demonstrate how our latest next-generation disc and digital home solutions can greatly enhance the user experience for video and TV on the PC," said Alice H. Chang, CEO of CyberLink. "We offer easy-to-implement software that handles the key user requirements for digital home entertainment--recording, playing, and sharing--using sophisticated technology that we've developed over years of experience in this area."
If you'd like to read more, CyberLink's entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Maxell Japan has announced that they will be the first company to ship 12x DVD-RAM media. Here's part of their press release, translated from Japanese using Babelfish:

The Hitachi マクセル corporation (president: The Akai period man), conform to new standard DVD-RAM Version 2.2/12x-SPEED DVD-RAM Revision 5.0 standard the DVD-RAM RAM2 for the data of 6 - 12 time stenography record From March 24th for the first time * we sell the disk, in the world. マクセル individual new high-speed BCM (Bismuth Coupling Material: The bismuth coupling material) the phase change record membrane was adopted, worldwide most speed * 12 time stenography record was actualized as a transfer type DVD disk. It is enabled with high-speed correspondence DVD-RAM drive of 6 time speeds or more which have inscription.
Maxell's 12x DVD-RAM media will ship on March 24th and is expected to cost about 1,000 Yen ($8.61US) per disc. If you'd like to read more, the entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
Bad news for CMC Magnetics. DigiTimes has reported that one of their smaller plants was damaged in a fire.
The optical disc maker said the plant, located at Yangmei in the northern county of Taoyuan, was established in 1999, and is only one of the smaller plants of the company's facilities. CMC stressed that the plant's structure, equipment, and goods are fully insured. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, the company added.
If you'd like to read more, head on over to DigiTimes. Add a comment
According to the German website heise online, Sony has stopped development of its own variant of the Blu-ray format, Professional Disc For Data (PDD). Instead, the company plans to focus on the regular Blu-ray format. Translated from German:
Sony will not develop its memory system further Professional Disc for DATA ( PDD). The PDD is a professional version Blu ray of the Disc and stores 23 GByte on a cartridge Disc. The first drive assemblies came in the middle of 2004 on the market and should offer Plasmons Ultra Density Optical ( UDO) Paroli. According to own data Plasmon as well as HP holds however a market share of 95 per cent with the professional optical LIBRARIES. Udo media store 30 GByte on two sides. Their 5,25-Zoll-Cartridges is compatible to MO media and can be integrated thus into existing MO LIBRARIES - an advantage, which customers have obviously more estimated than the comparatively higher transfer rates of the PDD.
While Sony will not release new versions of PDD, the company will continue to sell the drives through 2007 and offer technical support until 2014. If you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment
The results are in and our readers have chosen the BenQ DW1640 as the top DVD writer for the month of February. Here are the top five drives:
  1. BenQ DW1640
  2. BenQ DW1655
  3. LG GSA-4167B
  4. Plextor PX-716A
  5. Pioneer DVR-110/A10
Your favorite drive didn't make it onto the list? Then go and vote for March's top DVD writer. Add a comment
Earlier this week, Philips announced its plans for the introduction of its first Blu-ray Disc products. These plans include their BD player (BDP 9000), TripleWriter (SPD7000) and Blu-ray media in capacities of 25GB and 50GB.

Philips, a world leader in optical storage and a founding member of the Blu-ray Disc Association, has announced its plans for the introduction of its first Blu-ray Disc consumer products - the home entertainment player (BDP 9000), an all-in-one PC Writer (TripleWriter) and new Blu-ray media (BD-R and B-RE, single layer 25 GB* and dual layer BD-R and BD-RE 50 GB).

The BDP9000 consumer player will be available in the US in the second half of 2006 and the TripleWriter (SPD7000) will be available in Europe and the US in the second half of 2006.
If you'd like to read more about the BDP9000 or the SPD7000, Philips' entire press release can be found here. Add a comment
As we reported last week, an interim agreement has been made available to those companies wishing to license the new Advanced Access Content System (AACS). While this has allowed the Blu-ray and HD DVD camps to move ahead and release their products on time, there is a downside to this agreement. According to an article at Ars Technica, this agreement forces AACS licensees to eliminate analog outputs by 2013.
The AACS Interim Agreement is a 106-page set of rules for those who wish to license AACS, a list that would presumably include consumer electronics manufacturers and many other technology companies. Although AACS includes, among other things, the ability to allow content owners to determine what kinds of outputs HD video is directed towards, the license also includes a forced sunset for most of those outputs. Put simply, AACS licensees must eliminate analog outputs on consumer electronics devices by 2013 to remain in compliance with the license. Forced obsolescence it is.
While phasing out analog will be a downer for some, it probably won't have that big of an impact, especially with the US switching to digital TV by February of 2009. By then most people will have purchased an HDMI compatible TV or the necessary convertors. Anyway, if you'd like to read more, the entire article can be found here. Add a comment