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Panasonic, a supplier of consumer electronics, announced that it had begun pilot production of dual-layer Blu-ray discs that can store up to 50GB of data. The improved storage space will allow movie makers to store more content on a single disc. The dual-layer BD-ROM discs are made using technologies developed by Panasonic.

“Working closely with the movie studios and our replication partners, Panasonic was able to foresee the need for greater disc capacity to give consumers a much richer user experience,” said Eisuke Tsuyuzaki, director of strategy & alliances, Panasonic Hollywood Lab.

The doubling of BD-ROM disc storage capacity is enabled by spin coating technologies developed by Panasonic that create two recorded layers on a single side of a Blu-ray Disc. In the process, readily available inexpensive ultra-violet curable resins are used in the creation of the space layer, cover layer and hard-coat, resulting in a reduction in disc replication costs. Video and other data is then embedded in the layers for playback later using a blue laser-equipped Blu-ray Disc player, recorder or BD-ROM drive-equipped PC.

In order to created dual-layer BDs, Panasonic has modified its existing pilot production line for single-layer Blu-ray discs so that it is able to replicate dual-layer BD-ROM discs with 50GB of storage capacity. The new pilot replication line is housed within the Panasonic Disc Manufacturing Corp. of America, which is located in Torrance, California.

The Torrance pilot production line is able to produce dual-layer BD-ROM discs with the attachment of a dual-layer replication line module to the existing single-layer line. Single-layer 25GB BD-ROM discs are currently being produced on the pilot line with more than 80% yield rates. Panasonic expects to provide sample dual-layer BD-ROM discs to the industry for testing by the end of this month.

Panasonic expects to highlight the new replication process for dual-layer BD-ROM discs at the Blu-ray Disc Association’s booth during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, January 5-8, 2006.

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