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Brakes slammed on world's fastest DVD drive

Tech support pulled

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The development of the world's fastest DVD and CD drives has hit a hitch - Zen Research has stopped giving free support to firms licensing its technology.

Poor conditions in the PC market are blamed for the move. According to David Aber, Zen's chief financial officer, large manufacturers are concentrating on making the most out of existing technologies rather than investing in fresh developments. So it can't find anyone to pay for its work.

Zen's technology improves the performance of CD and DVD drives by getting the data reading speed up without resorting to higher rpms that introduce the inevitable "wobble factor" that produces distortions, making the disc hard to read.

The technology uses several multiple laser beams to read many tracks concurrently. It uses complex data algorithms to reconcile the data.

LG, Afreey, Actima, and Lite-On are among the driver makers which have licensed Zen's Multibeam technology.

Actima crowed that it would "build the world's fastest DVD drive" in a press release dated 19 March 2001. "Development has started with Zen and production of a high-performance Actima Multibeam DVD-ROM drive is targeted for later this year."

Nothing has appeared yet and Zen says that Actima has known for the last six months that it was going to pull free support. "We're in a tough market, it's not ideal for anyone," said Zen's director of investor relations Mark Way.

Actima's product was to involve the modification of its DVD-ROM mechanisms to accept Zen Multibeam pickups, and the development of a new PC board to accept Infineon's single-chip Multibeam DVD-ROM controller.

Zen's Multibeam division is cutting staff by 65 per cent to 24. For the three months to 30 September it recorded a pre-tax loss of $9 million against $8 million a year earlier. ®

Related Link

Zen/Actima press release

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