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Media Technology

Another Competitor for Blu-ray and HD-DVD 137

neutron_p writes "New Medium Enterprises unveils the highly anticipated pre-industrial Versatile MultiLayer Discs, the next generation HD Disc & Drive containing 20GB of storage capacity. VMDs use the current Red Laser technology, so it's easier for DVD factories to switch over. The company is set for launching production and sales of 15 GB, 20 GB, 25 GB and 30 GB Discs & Drives by Fall 2005. The drives will be inherently backward compatible with the existing pre-recorded and recordable DVD and CD formats."
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Another Competitor for Blu-ray and HD-DVD

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  • Is there one? Kind of strange that it wasnt posted either in the /. intro or on the tech news site...

  • Lower Overhead (Score:3, Insightful)

    by r2q2 ( 50527 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .gnugewebrettiz.> on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:40AM (#10806523) Homepage
    I think that the lower overhead because this uses red lazers will be the biggest selling point of the technologly. Since the other alternatives are very radical this seems to be just right. Also since it is adaptable to blu ray at 1 terabyte eventually!!! This stuff looks like it has a much better change of success.
  • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:42AM (#10806527)
    Are they made from copper and tin dics created by the local blacksmith and can also be used as shields if you are attacked by roving brigands?
  • by Phil246 ( 803464 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:48AM (#10806536)
    Cant they just Fking PICK ONE and stop trying to out-do each other in the 'snazzy name dept', so they can pool research and get a better product at the end of the day?
    • its called evolution, if all the companies compete to make the best product, it brings down prices and new technology is developed

      its a win-win situation for the consumer, i welcome it.
      • its called evolution, if all the companies compete to make the best product, it brings down prices and new technology is developed. its a win-win situation for the consumer, i welcome it.

        I do not welcome our new disk format overlords.

        Look what happened to quadraphonic in the 70's. By the time all the smoke of standards wars cleared, all that was left was plain stereo.

        There must be other examples of great ideas that died due to multiple competing standards?
        • by zonker ( 1158 )
          or more recently vhs and beta.

          interestingly, the vinyl music recording standards battle is one of the earliest format wars (discounting early pre-vinyl edison cylinders as their wasn't big industry behind differing designs). the major labels (columbia and rca victor) were trying to promote their differing designs [fact-index.com] to replace the 78 (ever wonder why their are 33 1/3, 45, 78's etc.?). here's some more links for the curious [google.com]...

          all that being said, i think it is really just the early adopters that get screwed
    • Just dont buy any of them yet... wait til theres a winner on this format war.
  • Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by keeleysam ( 792221 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:48AM (#10806540) Homepage Journal
    "The drives will be inherently backward compatible with the existing pre-recorded and recordable DVD and CD formats."
    That may give them a slight lead, but since they are poppin up so late and Sony has already pledged for Blu-reay discs in PS3, and Xbox Next will have it too, if they ever want to see this new format get big they will need soem MAJOR luck, which personally, I dont want them to have, as too many formats isn't going to help us, and will probobly help piracy.
    • ...Sony has already pledged for Blu-reay discs in PS3, and Xbox Next will have it too...

      I wouldn't use "major company support" as a metric for success. Intel threw its weight behind RDRAM, and it was even used in the Nintendo 64, but that didn't stop the world from rejecting it as a substandard solution.

      If another format takes off, then you'll either be seeing "on the bandwagon" support for the PS3 and Xbox Next, or their support for Blue-ray will be marketed as a "feature," in that it would help curb
    • I would like to know what these huge capacity disc are going to be used for. I guess high defintion tv for the rich. I for one will not buy a hd tv until I can get a 36 inch tv for under $500 and my present tv breaks. I do not see them putting 8 movies on one disc and charging around $100 for it. I expect that soon all movies will be on demand and no one will have to locally store them anyway. As for software the vast majority of them do not fill a cd much less a dvd or larger capacity disc.
      • Re:Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dgatwood ( 11270 )
        I don't know about the movie industry, but I plan to use them for data backups. With dual layer 50G blu-ray recordable discs, I could back up the hard drives in my house with only about forty or fifty. Give me an order of magnitude more capacity per disc, and I might even be able to back up regularly....

    • Xbox next will have a bluRay drive? How do you figure that out? Everything leaked or made public about Xbox next points to the contrary...
  • Blu-Ray Killer? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by darkmeridian ( 119044 ) <william@chuang.gmail@com> on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:51AM (#10806548) Homepage
    The prime consideration is that this technology uses current red-laser technology rather than a new blue-laser. This makes it inherently backwards compatible with today's CD-RW and DVDs. It is also cheaper and carries 20 gig on one side, with a 30 gb model available. If we use high-bandwidth XVID/Ogg streams on this, why would we need blu-ray?
    • If we use high-bandwidth XVID/Ogg streams on this, why would we need blu-ray?

      I just bought the Philips DVP642 [amazon.com] Divx/XviD player and I'm wondering why you would buy a DVD+/-RW.

      I'm getting used to putting DVD quality film on 20 cent CDR's.

      Sure (complete) TV seasons on DVD would be nice but since TVtorrents [tvtorrents.net] has become my Tivo, CD works great. Disposable and compatible.
      • I'm getting used to putting DVD quality film on 20 cent CDR's.

        Funny...I'm getting used to putting my full DVD backups (via dvdshrink) onto 20 cent DVD-Rs...Oh yeah, and the burner only cost me 10 bucks, too...

    • I always that the ultimate defeat of Blue Laser would lie at the hands of the Cheat Commandos. [homestarrunner.com]. "Justice rocket backpack rocket, rocket fire!"
  • It doesn't matter (Score:1, Insightful)

    by samael ( 12612 )
    DVDs are good enough for current games/tv and other media.

    By the time the next generation of media finally makes it into production we're going to be downloading everything.

    Seriously - the way that things are going everything's going to be available via download, and unless you're stuck out in the middle of nowhere your bandwidth will be high enough toget it faster than the time it takes you to walk to the shops and back.
    • by kormoc ( 122955 )
      I rather walk to the store and buy halflife 2 then to download it, it's faster, say 200 k a sec, for 700 megs is one hour, and that's only if the servers arn't flooded, at the rate most people were preloading hl2 when it was ready to preload, it was taking multiple hours. I much rather go buy it and install it off of a cd.

      Also, movies and music will be sold as physical disks for *years* to come I'm sure. And what about backing up your mondo disk drives? you perfer a few dozen dvd's or one big hd-dvd or blu
      • I've had HalfLife2 on my PC for weeks now.

        Have you got it yet?

        And I only back up my important documents to offsite - about 100MB goes to a web-based site (ibackup.com)

        Everything else gets backed up to a hard drive on my flatmate's machine - and from his to mine. It's not perfect, but for replacable stuff it's good enough.
      • i sleep 6-8 hours a day. Enough time to download a dvd with current adsl.
        I would rather pick a game before going to bed/work and find it ready when back than having to drive to a store.
        Or do you sit in front of your pc watching to progress bar?

        btw: who buys games at stores? they are most often overpriced and full of idiot leet gamer kidz. And downloading wins agains mail-order anyday.
    • DVDs are good enough for current games/tv and other media.

      Who cares about using them for media? Ever had to keep reasonably up-to-date backups of a few hundred GB of frequently changing data?

      Up to about 200GB tapes work well enough (though the drives cost more than the entire machine they back up, and the tapes alone cost as much as a cheap IDE HDD of the same size, and go quite a lot slower). Above 300GB, a "nightly backup" either requires multiple drives, an even more expensive tape robot (reasonab
    • I don't think so.

      HD has so much more detail that it's not funny. An ATSC bitstream is 20Mbps. A half hour fills up one DVD.
    • No, we're not gonna be downloading everything, if the data footprint of one movie is 20-30 GB. Yes, bandwith available to people is increasing, but even now, downloading low-definition 5GB DVD movies is just at the edge of practicality with a decent connection.

      It's no accident that Netflix moves around more data through the mail each day than the entire internet does in the same amount of time.

  • The redundant department of redundant redundancy called on the telephone....
  • by gumpish ( 682245 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @10:59AM (#10806575) Journal
    Because we all know competition is good and the best technology always wins... right? [wikipedia.org]
  • by purduephotog ( 218304 ) <hirsch&inorbit,com> on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:02AM (#10806590) Homepage Journal
    Really, I currently have 600gb of data archived for photographs and images. That's not a whole hell of alot. 3x200gb Seagates take care of the raiding and assorted 80, 120, 160's (and I Just found another 60 laying around, YES!) handle day to day demands.

    So, as with bluray, All I've got to say is "How soon do your writers and media get down to 1/10th the cost of IDE media (currently reasonably at $0.47/gb).

    A DVD (cheap) can be had for about 40 cents per disk- which doesn't get you much for archiving except the ability to slap it into a jukebox that makes whirling sounds.

    I need a massive data storage solution that I can ship off to friends to keep backups for me that does not rely on moving metal /ceramic disks.

    So, I welcome another format- so long as they MOVE THEIR ASSES and get the price down to what I can afford.

    And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go check Amazon and Outpost to see if they have any more 200gb Seagates for less that $0.47/gb after rebate.
    • Really, I currently have 600gb of data archived for photographs and images. That's not a whole hell of alot.

      Man I was told some people have too much porn, but this is ridiculous!
    • I hear you, friend.
      I gave up on using dvds for archiving. I just calculated that with current HD-prices, and buying quality dvds (with those 150 spindle for only 60 euro things i dont think 1 copy would be enough), ect ect.
      The botton line was: DVDs are cheaper after 300 or 400GB (to amorize the burner), BUT only if you are not calculating time.
      But you need to pack data togeter to 4.3GB, keep some sort of storage sanity, ect.
      Not to mention having huge piles of discs to seek through, pick the right media, hop
      • Ah, but remember that a RAID isn't a backup. Unless you have two arrays in separate machines.

        And unless you're creating 400GB of content a day, it isn't that hard to backup to DVD once, and then archive the changes every week or so.

        I'm currently burning DVDs of my 24,605 songs, and that's above and beyond my rsync backups, etc.
        • Just remember DVD isnt a backup either. My failure per GB per year is about 1000to1 in favour for hds. I had scores of cdr that became faulty, but i have yet to suffer a total HD loss. One near loss (increasing raw error rate) was just compensated by putting a new on in the array, rebuilt, go.
          If anything really BAD happens to take out the whole array, most likely the data loss doesnt really matter compared to other damages (really important stuff is mirrored to my notebook, too)
    • What ever happened to the development of the optical storage cube (remember Star Trek?). I thought someone was developing a laser to write layers inside of a poly cube. I've seen the tacky "etchings" for sale in the souveiner shops but no media reader for them.
  • It may use red lasers, but it won't play in current players.

    As people are upgrading, the phrase "no layer-change pause" will become the marketing mantra of the blue-laser crowd.

    And they will win.
    • As people are upgrading, the phrase "no layer-change pause" will become the marketing mantra of the blue-laser crowd.

      Hardware buffering of the MPEG3 stream to prevent layer change pauses is a lot cheaper than a new and incompatible technology, and most DVD players seem to have it already.

      • Hardware buffering of the MPEG3 stream to prevent layer change pauses is a lot cheaper than a new and incompatible technology, and most DVD players seem to have it already.

        You can't retrofit it, so it means buying a whole new player.

        And adding parts doesn't make players more attractive. Introducing new technologies does.

        The only people who stand to benefit from not changing over to blue lasers is the people who actually make the laser chips for the red lasers and would have to pay a royalty (maybe) to
  • Great, another format war on the horizon. Backwards compatibility is all well and good, but lateral compatibility is just as important. I mean, who wants to put 25gb on a format that may be competed out of the market in a year or two? And because the physical specifications are different (different lasers, etc) I doubt we'll be seeing many multiformat drives. But this is all in the testing phase, hopefully the market can agree on a disc by the time they go to market.
  • DRM crap included (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alwin Henseler ( 640539 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:10AM (#10806629)
    I for one would welcome any new DVD-like format, if it just offers more storage capacity per disc (or $). And reliable recording. But my guess is consumers are really sick of all the format wars as seen with DVD.

    I'm also very fond of the small 8 cm. discs. They fit in your pocket nicely. With PC equipment getting smaller/more powerful all the time, one of the things holding back small formfactor PC's is the size of optical drives/discs. In the past, the small capacity of 8 cm. discs may have been a good argument for keeping those, but with multiple GB.'s storage on even these small discs, that argument isn't so strong anymore. I would welcome it if some manufacturer had the balls to produce a 8 cm. disc only optical drive (about floppy-drive sized), and build an extra small PC around that. Think Nintendo GameCube style, but PC-compatible.

    From the article: "VMD is a high quality format with unparalleled built-in copyright protection .."

    And then there's the DRM issue. With DVD, it doesn't actually prevent consumers from copying/converting discs, but what if this changes? I wouldn't be willing to sink ANY money in it if that were the case.

    If DRM on next-gen optical discs really does become a barrier for consumers, I might start looking to grey import some equipment/discs using non-DRM including China-developed format.

    • With new disc technologies making pits on CDs much smaller to achieve a greater capacity, new problems arise:

      One sweaty fingerprint smudge or a single piece of lint strategically placed in the wrong area could render the disc useless.

      Unless makers of next-generation CDs engineer their products with this in mind, we're all screwed.

      Perhaps a DVD-RAM styled fingerprint and dust-proof plastic cartridge is in order?

      Just a thought...

    • But my guess is consumers are really sick of all the format wars as seen with DVD.

      At least I'm not, I just got a cheap DVD+/-R/RW+CD-R/RW drive. :-)

      The only sign of the format wars I notice is that my standalone DVD player only supports DVD-R (and not DVD+R) but so what? Just buy these for both video and data and you'll never need to care.

      I can only see this becoming a problem if it's technically impossible to design combo-drives like these for future formats, without too expensive drives. However, I ag
    • Its not the size of the media that takes up the space, its the size of the drive itself-

      If you built a SFF with a laptop dvd burner, it would take up a fraction of the space, without sacrificing any features. I'm sure the average laptop DVD drive is smaller than the floppy drive on a desktop... There have been "SFF"'s, built right into the back of LCD monitors for years that use laptop drives....

      If you can afford it, laptops are much smaller and quieter than any SFF- they basically take up NO space, sin

  • See these things? They're gonna replace CD's soon.

    Guess I'll have to buy the White Album again.
  • One of the things that matter for the next-gen media is, whether manufacturers can produce enough units or not. With this new technology, no big-name manufacturer announced the partnership yet.
  • This has all the makings of another another DivX [about.com] story... (crappy PPV sceme aside, of course. ^_^)
  • I wonder whether the discussions on slashdot, on topics such as these, have any influence on the decisions taken by promoters of products. This is because the chatter on slashdot is often quoted by may bulletins on other websites. What do you think?
    • I wonder whether the discussions on slashdot, on topics such as these, have any influence on the decisions taken by promoters of products.

      Yeah right. Keep living in your dream world, where CEO and CTO of every tech company make their decisions based on commments posted on Slashdot
  • Discs tech... (Score:2, Insightful)

    I've never liked the disc technology, I wish there was a better replacement (durable flash drives, or something like that) or maybe the CDs with an extra plastic cover, kind of like the old floppy disks.

    Anyway, spinning disks end up having reading errors, and the reading rate becomes really slow.
    • Unfortunately, I think a lot of that has to do with marketing. With these new formats, the amount of storage is the real selling point, just as it is with hard drives. You always hear about the new huge drive that came out, but how about higher spindle speeds, faster seek times and *gasp* better reliability! I agree with you that if things are going to get better we need to find a way to head toward solid state storage, but it doesn't seem like any of the major manufacturers give a damn.
  • I definately dig the idea of competition helping to create and give us better technology, because, face it, if no one had anything to fight or work against, things wouldn't grow and develop as quickly as they do.

    It's things like this that give us great computer technology especially, great choices as well, instead of a single brand for everything with one company controlling it all. I love choice after all...

    The only problems this runs into, would be, the confusion that arises for the general populace. IE
  • Hm. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:38AM (#10806756)
    The "article" (if you can call it that ... marketing blurb, really) seems like one of those "too good to be true so it probably isn't" things. Time will tell, but odds are if what they're doing is as easy to manufacture as they claim, the other major DVD researchers have probably already thought of it and discarded the idea, and if it is a really complicated affair then the fact that it uses a red laser vs a blue laser probably won't make much difference. I don't know, we'll see, but I'm not holding my breath on this one. Even if they have something, they're up against some pretty tough boys that have a vested interest in seeing their own technology prevail.
  • Videos of Mass Destruction.
  • by nvivo ( 739176 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:56AM (#10806823)
    I remember when I had an 80Gb HD and I needed to buy about 50 CDs to free my hard drive of all the junk i download everyday. So I decided to buy an DVD-Writer and a new 250Gb HD.

    What happened is that i just moved everything from my old drive to the new one. Nowadays I have about 200Gb of stuff in the hard drive that I have no idea when i'm gonna use. I would need about 50 DVDs to free the space... great progress!

    Now, even with this 30gb discs, i would need 7 discs to backup my stuff. :-( Maybe I should just buy another 250Gb drive...
    • I think you're exactly right. I did the same calculation myself and it's why I still don't own a DVD burner. I burn CD's for the car and for friends, but since most of them can now play CD's with MP3 at home and in their car, I don't have to burn very many. And if I want to trade data, I use an external hard drive or let friends FTP from me.

      Most of the data on my hard drive is "consumeable", the sort of thing I watch and delete. Stuff builds up and I don't delete all the useless files, because I have so m

    • great progress!

      I would just like to say, WHAAAAAAA???

      You're actually upset that Hard Drives are getting larger and less expensive?

      Maybe I should just buy another 250Gb drive...

      Yes, that is EXACTLY what you should do...

      Personally, I have one machine on my home network, with 3x 100GB hard drives, to which I back-up about half a dozen other computers.

      Tapes are too expensive for home use, and can't be re-written as many times as hard drives anyhow. DVD-RAM discs might be a good (cheap) option, but they

  • repeats itself
  • Where's the Beef? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ka9dgx ( 72702 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @12:08PM (#10806876) Homepage Journal
    Interesting press release disguised as article, but where's the beef? There are no technical details about how it actually works. They talk about the limitations of two layer structures, but then never actually state how they overcame those limitations.

    I call BullShit, for the second time today, actually.


    • Well, its not bullshit. Sony demonstrated 8 layer blue-ray discs, so there would be no problem doing similar with red lasers and only 2-3GB per layer for 20GB of storage.
      Of couse, imho, to added complexity of multilayers (including long term storage uncertaincies) for outweights the "no blue laser needed" simplification.
  • by benwaggoner ( 513209 ) <ben@waggoner.microsoft@com> on Saturday November 13, 2004 @12:12PM (#10806905) Homepage
    This sounds exactly the same as D-Data's apparently defunct Digital Multilayer Disc format, which also was a multilayer red laser. The CTO is even a Russan/Israeli, although not Eugene Levich.

  • by NoData ( 9132 ) <_NoData_NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Saturday November 13, 2004 @12:25PM (#10806962)
    Just thought I'd point out that their proof of concept (according the press-release-in-article's-clothing) is a "pre-recorded VMD has four layers on one side for an initial capacity of 20 GB...." One quick reference to recordable says:

    "In 2006, the company will start manufacturing cost-effective 50 GB VMD's on Red Laser, for HDTV and Digital Cinema. With minimal changes of its technology, the company can manufacture recordable VMD as well." (my emphasis)

    The fact that the recordable version is referred to as a vague possibility, and (more disturbingly) brought up AFTER a reference to what will happen in 2006, all suggests that we won't see burnable versions of this technology for quite a while. Anyone know where the Blue Laser folks are on getting a home writable version out? That, I think, will really impact user adoption.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      And you can already buy the units from Sony.

      They cost a lot. That's pretty much the only problem with them right now.

      Expect the price to drop when the deman d picks up when the price drops whern the demand picks up... you know the drill.

      Realistically, we (anonymous, but not Sony) are currently aiming at a back-end of 2006 release for the triple-writers. (That is, they will read and write CD/CDRW/DVD+R/DVD-R/Blu at 48x, 40x, 16x, 16x and 2x - bearing in mind that 1x DVD is about 8x CD and it's about the
  • Unless they can include 1 or 2 layers that current generation DVD players can play now, as a red-laser tech (note how I said red-laser) it's doomed to failure already.
    OK, so the manufacturers don't have to invest in new equipment now, but the consumers will have to, and everyone will when the inevitable change-over to blue-laser happens.
    But what really rules it out will be the long long change-over period in which both "normal" red-laser and VMD red-laser discs will have to be produced and sold, that will b
  • I just had a thought ... what if you tried reading a medium with two different colored lasers? Could you get effectively better resolution than with just one laser? By how much? From what I recall from my music classes, the difference between two close frequencies is a lower frequency, not a higher one, so maybe there's nothing here. But I thought I'd ask.
    • I tried drawing it on the board. It does look like you could do better. Two lasers of the same frequency work better than two lasers of different frequencies. If each laser has a resolution that takes one reading per two dots, and you space their readings one dot apart, you can figure out all the dots. Three lasers, three dots per reading, etc. And more lasers than dots per reading add redundancy, reducing error.

      I know, I know, I'm an armchair physicist. Trying to apply digital solutions to an analog
  • VMD is a high quality format with unparalleled built-in copyright protection that offers the most cost effective solution for next generation optical media.

    Great, another promising technology crippled by DRM. This is supposed to be a selling point?

  • I work in the DVD industry, and although I'm not on the cutting edge of the technology debate between Blu Ray and HD, it's my understanding that the technology to write 3 or 4 layer DVD's has been a possibility for a long time. The problem as I understand it is that the factor of error increases quite a bit when you try to write additional layers of grooves on a DVD. The grooves aren't any smaller or denser on the disc, there are just additional 4.2gb (or so) layers being packed into the same space.


  • First of all, I'm quite glad someone has decided to go this route for HD / HD-like discs that have tons of storage. The backwards compatibility is what will win people over. Plus, the name just sounds better. I mean, who would buy something called "Blue-Ray" anyways? ;-P
  • I don't get the concern with "backwards compatibility" (these discs certainly won't be playable on older players, at least from a logical standpoint, if not physical); the blue laser players will be able to play CDs and DVDs back; if not initially, soon after (it's required for mass market appeal).
  • It will record almost all of the movies it will receive. But in a different manner. If we only can show all we can remember...
  • Oh God, apparently new disc formats are emerging with each passing week. What now? VMD? The only bright spot for this technology is its low cost. Alas, it lacks the backing of major electronics and content companies, thereby consigning it to the rubbish heap before it's even hit the store shelf. The fact is that the market will not support more than two formats (see SACD vs. DVD-Audio), and in that particular case widespread adoption has been almost nonexistent. On the other hand, single-format markets (se

I've got a bad feeling about this.