After several years of discussions, the Blu-ray disc Association (BDA) has officially ratified new Blu-ray disc XL (BDXL) and Intra-Hybrid Blu-ray (IH-BD) specifications that will enable Blu-ray media with 100GB or even 128GB capacities as well as provide users ability to record data onto media with published content. The new versions of Blu-ray will mostly be aimed at professional and consumer applications.
The BDXL specification, which is targeted primarily at commercial segments such as broadcasting, medical and document imaging enterprises with significant archiving needs, will provide customers with write-once options on 100GB and 128GB capacity discs and rewritable capability on 100GB discs. The discs reach these capacities by incorporating three to four recordable layers and will not be compatible with existing drives or players. A consumer version of BDXL is also expected, particularly in those regions where BD recorders have achieved broad consumer acceptance.
“Professional industries have expressed a desire to find optical disc solutions that enable them to transition away from magnetic media for their archiving needs. Leveraging Blu-ray disc to meet this need provides professional enterprises with a compact, stable and long term solution for archiving large amounts of sensitive data, video and graphic images,” said Victor Matsuda, Blu-ray disc association global promotions committee chair.
It is necessary to note that BDXL is by far not the first technology for professional usage that is based on the blue-violet laser with 405nm wave-length. Back in 2003 Sony introduced its Professional Disc (PFD) and Professional Disc for Data (PDD) media types along with recording devices designed for professional video or professional data. PFDs could store up to 23GB of data. In late March, 2007, PDD reached its end of life, but PFD is still being manufactured.
The Intra-Hybrid Blu-ray Disc (IH-BD) incorporates a single BD-ROM layer and a single BD-RE layer so as to enable the user to view, but not overwrite, critical published data while providing the flexibility to include relevant personal data on the same physical disc. This allows for consumer specific applications where combining published content with related user data on a convenient, single volume is desirable. Both the ROM and the RE layers on IH-BD discs provide 25GB of capacity. A natural usage scenario for such discs would be to provide end-users to download additional content onto published discs with movies or video games.
Because both BDXL and IH-BD are specially designed formats with specific market segments in mind, newly-designed hardware is required to playback or record BDXL or IH-BD media. However, because the new media specifications are extensions of current Blu-ray disc technology, future BDXL and IH-BD devices will support existing 25GB and 50GB Blu-ray discs.