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Next-gen red-laser discs prove a hit

12 May 2005

Taiwan’s FVD disc technology attracts the interest of a US firm and prepares to go global.

Taiwan’s new red-laser data storage format, Forward Versatile Disc (FVD), has received a boost with the news that a US firm plans to develop miniature optical drives that use the technology.

Dataplay (DPHI), a Colorado-based maker of micro-drives and optical media, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), to further develop FVD technology.

“The MOU covers all of the applicable technology for our system, including the engine, media and content protection system,” said Bill Almon, CEO of DPHI. “Our cooperative activity will enable us to advance our goals to create a small or micro-optical system standard for portable/mobile applications, license our technology and OEM a complete system.”

FVD is a DVD-like format for storing HDTV content and was developed jointly by ITRI and Taiwan Advanced Optical Storage Research Alliance (AOSRA). It was formally launched in Taiwan at the end of March. Unlike other HDTV discs such as Blu-Ray and HD-DVD which use blue lasers, FVD is red-laser based. It is capable of storing 5.4 to 6 GB on a single-layer disc or 9.8 to 11 GB on a dual-layer disc.

By exploiting Microsoft's Windows Media Video-9 video compression technology, FVD is capable of playing a 135-minute long HDTV film with a resolution of 1920 x 1080i. FVD also adopts an anti-copy mechanism called the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) Content Protection System.

The first FVD players are expected on the market in Taiwan this month for about $175. Companies like IDA Electronics and Actima Technology will be manufacturing the players, with several local Taiwanese firms making the FVD discs.

According to Der-Ray Huang, Deputy General Director of ITRI's Optoelectronics & Systems Laboratories (OES), the market size for FVDs will be known in June/July as ITRI begins promoting the format worldwide.

Author
Manoj Aravindakshan is director of On Target Media, a Singapore-based provider of technology news.

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