Dual-layer 8.5GB recordable DVDs available next year

Dual-layer 8.5GB recordable DVDs available next year

There was good news at this year’s Ceatec Japan 2003 exhibition for users looking to squeeze extra data onto a recordable DVD disc. On show were dual-layer versions of both DVD-R and DVD+R discs that offer almost double the data capacity of today’s standard blank DVD discs.

Pioneer, Koninklijke Philips Electronics and Mitsubishi Kagaku Media, the latter better known by its Verbatim brand name, said they had developed prototype discs that could hold up to 8.5GB of data.

Most DVD-R and DVD+R discs on the market at present offer a data storage capacity of 4.7GB. Anticipating the need to store more data, the developers of the DVD format specified several additional type of disc when the format was decided on in the mid-90s.

The simplest of these disc types, and the most common today, is the 4.7GB single-sided, single-layer disc — that is, a single recording layer that can be used on one side only.

The prototype discs from Pioneer, Philips and Mitsubishi have a single recording side, like current discs, but two recording layers. By adjusting the focus of the laser beam each layer can be targeted without disrupting data on the other. This allows for up to 8.5GB of data to be stored on a single-sided disc, which isn’t quite the data capacity of a double-sided disc but can all be accessed without the hassle of turning the disc over.

Dual-layer discs are already supported under the DVD-Video format and some commercial video discs already use the format.

Pioneer, which developed the DVD-R prototype, plans to propose it as a standard to the DVD Forum when its development is complete.

Philips, which produced the DVD+R prototype with Mitsubishi Kagaku, said its disc was expected to be ready for commercial launch in 2004.

Compatibility with existing drives and players might be an issue.

Both companies noted users would need to purchase new drives if they want to write to the new discs.

Philips said drives were expected with the discs in 2004.

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