Sony, Philips finalising high capacity CD format

A new high-capacity CD format being finalised by Soy and Philips throws more confusion into the optical disc storage sector.

          Sony and Philips Electronics are in the final stages of formalising a new high-capacity CD format that will offer users more storage space. However, the new format also throws more confusion into the optical disc storage sector.

          The new format, which at present has the unwieldy tentative name of Double Density CD-ROM/-R/-RW, (recordable/rewritable) is expected to be finalised in September, Sony said in a statement Wednesday. It will boost the storage capacity of a CD to 1.3Gb -- double the current capacity of a CD but just over a quarter that of DVD-ROM (digital versatile disc ROM) discs -- but consumers will need to invest in new hardware to use the discs.

          For consumers, Sony spokesman Masami Kato said the new format will offer several benefits. Chief of these will be more capacity than existing CD discs and lower prices than new DVD-based discs, although he was unable to estimate how much cheaper a Double Density CD might be compared to a DVD disc.

          What is sure is that the new format will add to an already dizzying number of choices in the optical disc market. When shopping for recordable optical disc systems consumers already face a choice between 640M byte capacity CD-R and CD-R/W, 4.7Gb DVD+RW (developed by Sony and Philips independently from the DVD Forum), 3.95G b DVD-R, 3.95G byte DVD-R/W, 2.6Gb first generation DVD-RAM discs and 4.7Gb second generation DVD-RAM discs.

          Most of the benefits of the new system will likely be realised by manufacturers of drive hardware and discs. Minimal change is needed to switch to the new format as the system is based on current CD technology, said Kato.

          The new format features a smaller track pitch and pit length to accommodate greater data density, and changes to the error correction scheme, said a Sony statement. The system will also feature a copyright control system designed to prevent illegal copying of data on the discs.

          Sony, in Tokyo, can be found online at http://www.sony.co.jp/.

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