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Sharp boosts blue-laser diode production

Blu-ray, HD DVD component dearth coming to an end?

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Sharp has begun mass-producing blue-laser diodes, a move that may help alleviate the current dearth of this critical component for Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD drives.

Sharp began volume production last month, shipping 150,000 diodes from its factory in Japan, the company said yesterday, according to a Reuters report. Sharp also said it plans to ramp up production through 2007 to 500,000 units in 12 months' time.

In addition to Sharp, the big blue-laser diode makers are Sony and Nichia. Sony's output has gone almost entirely into Blu-ray Disc drives destined for its PlayStation 3 games console. Nichia hasn't been able to supply sufficient diodes for every other drive manufacturer. The upshot: next-generation optical drives announced earlier this year have missed mid-year and later shipment windows.

Sharp's entry into the market should help ease the situation, and as Nichia also ramps up its output, prices of Blu-ray and HD DVD drives should fall. ®

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