TDK has developed a prototype Blu-ray Disc that can store twice as much data, and record it at twice the speed, as existing Blu-ray Discs.
The disc, unveiled at a TDK exhibition in Tokyo this week, can record data at 72Mbps (megabits per second), double the 36Mbps rate for current Blu-ray Discs. TDK increased the write speed by using a more powerful laser and making some changes to the material of the disc's recording layer.
The first generation of Blu-ray discs can already record data faster than it is transmitted in high-definition TV broadcasts, so the faster recording speed isn't needed there. But it will be advantageous when content is copied from a hard-disk drive to an optical disc for back-up or archiving.
The Blu-ray Disc Association, which is responsible for the disc formats, standardised a 2x version of the read-only BD-R disc and rewritable BD-RE disc in the latter half of 2004, said a spokesman for Sony, one of the major backers of the format.
To achieve the higher capacity, TDK has added two additional recording layers to the disc to take it up to four layers. Blu-ray Disc stores 25GB on each recording layer and the standard currently includes single layer and dual layer versions.
No standard exists for four-layer discs TDK is proposing its prototype to the Blu-ray Disc Association. Sony's spokesperson said the current format road map calls for four-layer discs to debut in the market during 2007.
TDK's development comes hot on the heels of an announcement by Toshiba that it has developed a three-layer HD-DVD disc capable of holding up to 45G bytes of information. HD-DVD is a competing format to Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD's maximum capacity of 30GB had been viewed unfavourably against Blu-ray Disc's maximum 50GB capacity.
According to the Blu-ray Disc Association, a single-layer 25GB disc can typically hold 135 minutes of high-definition video in MPEG-2 format, or 250hours of standard-definition video.
The recent Toshiba announcement brought the formats much closer together and made capacity less of an issue for the Blu-ray Disc camp to trumpet when promoting their technology. The development of a 100GB disc by TDK will likely open up this avenue for the Blu-ray Disc supporters again.