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Rivals start to spin Blu-ray, HD DVD alternatives

All the 'Versatile' disc technologies explained

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Finally, there's Taiwan's FVD (Forward Versatile Disc) A single-layer FVD can hold 5.4GB to 6GB of video content or data, rising to 9.8-11GB for a single-sided, double-layer disc. That's sufficient for 135 minutes of 1920 x 1080i HD content, the format's backers claim.

Idar FVD player

FVD went on sale in November 2005, around the time EVD began to come to market. Both seek to avoid the licensing fees the DVD, HD DVD and BD owners require Asian manufacturers pay to use their technology.

Holo, world

But let's not forget the rogue element: the companies pursuing holographics storage. As we reported on Monday, Lucent off-shoot InPhase is touting its Tapestry holographic system, which is expected to debut later this year offering 300GB of storage on a DVD-sized disc. The data can be read at a staggering 20MBps. InPhase reckons it can get that up to 23MBps and the storage capacity to 1600GB (1.6TB). Maxell has licensed the technology to bring it to market.

Maxell holographic storage system

Meanwhile, Japan's Optware, backed by Fuji Photo and others, is pushing HVD (Holographic Versatile DIsc), a DVD-sized disc (again) that holds 1TB and can transfer data at a rate of 1Gbps, 40 times the speed of DVD, according to the developer. It's working to define HVD as a standard, though with a more modest capacity of 100GB for ROMs and 200GB for cartridge-enclosed HVD-RW products.

It's impossible to say how many of these will ever make it to the mainstream. The holographic systems have the potential to make a lot of noise in the enterprise storage market before maturing sufficiently - ie. becoming cheaper - to provide the foundation for the post-BD/HD DVD era, though there's a limit on how high a home video's resolution needs to be, which in turn sets a limit on the maximum necessary storage for a consumer medium.

As for the other, red-laser based systems, there's certainly market niches they can address, but whether they'll be able to shout above the noise the consumer electronics and content industries are going to be making about the BD and HD DVD formats seems unlikely. Not without some strong industry voices on their side, at any rate. ®

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