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TDK, a leading maker of optical discs, has detailed its recently unveiled 200GB Blu-ray disc (BD), the world’s highest optical disc capacity. Apparently, in order to create the disc, TDK had to increase capacity of every layer by 32%, but it is unclear whether such discs will be compatible with the first breed of Blu-ray optical drives.

Apparently, 200GB BDs sport 6 layers with 33GB per each. In order to fit 200GB over six layers, each layer’s capacity has been increased to 33GB (from 25GB) by using bismuth peroxide as the recording medium, claims CD Freaks web-site citing Tech-On publication of Japan.  When the laser heats this type of medium, it oxidises to form bubbles of air, which affects the laser light in much the same way as pits on traditional CD and DVD media, which is why it is unclear whether the 200GB discs would be compatible with the first Blu-ray optical drives.

TDK said in a recent statement that the company was “in the process of developing the world’s first 200GB Blu-ray disc prototype”, a capacity that is larger than today’s mainstream hard disc drives for personal computers (PCs). TDK has not disclosed any details regarding the technologies set to be utilized with the 200GB Blu-ray discs initially, but it is known that the company had to make some changes to the recordable materials to create the 100GB product.

Traditional single-layer DVDs allow consumers to watch movies in 720x480 (NTSC) or 720x576 (PAL) resolution with Dolby Digital audio. The blue-laser discs will provide consumers 1920x1080 resolution as well as DTS or Dolby Digital Plus audio along with some additional interactive features.

Blu-ray and HD DVD formats compete for replacing the DVD standard. HD DVD discs can store up to 15GB on a single layer and up to 30GB on two layers. Its competitor, Blu-ray, can store up to 27GB per single layer and up to 50GB on two layers, but Blu-ray discs are more expensive to produce. The HD DVD is pushed aggressively by Toshiba and NEC as well as being standardized at the DVD Forum, which represents over 230 consumer electronics, information technology, and content companies worldwide. Blu-ray is backed by Sony and Panasonic, which are among the world’s largest makers of electronics. Among Hollywood studios HD is supported by Warner Bros. Studios, New Line Cinema, Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures, whereas Sony Pictures, Walt Disney, Warner Bros. and Twentieth Century Fox endorse Blu-ray.

A claim about possibility to enable 200GB Blu-ray media is targeted to showcase potential technology excellence of the Blu-ray discs over the competing HD DVD standard, which largest capacity is about 50GB today. It is unclear, however, whether it is possible to increase density of HD DVD layers using new media materials.

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