December 27, 2005 Last week it was the prospect of 5 terabyte drives, but the buzz of the Gizmag Christmas party was the news that Panasonic has modified its existing pilot production line for single-layer Blu-ray Discs, called BD-ROM, so that it is able to replicate dual-layer BD-ROM discs with 50 gigabytes (GB) of storage capacity. The 5 TB drives are still five years away, but the new pilot replication line is happening NOW at the Panasonic Disc Manufacturing Corporation of America, located in Torrance, California and is sure to be one of the talking points of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next week (January 5-8, 2006). Single-layer Blu-ray Discs have 25 GB of storage capacity for holding video and other data, while current DVD discs have 8.5 GB of storage at most.
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 UV 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.
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 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.
"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.
Panasonic expects to highlight the new replication process for dual-layer BD-ROM discs at the Blu-ray Disc Association's booth at CES.
The additional capacity will allow movies and other High Definition video titles to be stored, along with value-added features, on a single Blu-ray Disc. The BD-ROM format is expected to succeed DVDs as the preferred medium for High Definition movies and other packaged entertainment content for the home as the nation moves from analog TV to digital and High Definition Television.