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Sony and Panasonic plan 300GB Blu-Ray replacement for 2015

Will anyone bother with a standards war?

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Sony and Panasonic have announced a partnership to develop a new format of optical storage disc for data archiving to replace Blu-Ray, and plan to get a 300GB disc in the market by the end of 2015.

In a canned statement the two companies said they had "a proven track record in developing Blu-ray Disc format technologies, and by actively promoting the adoption of a new standard for next-generation high-capacity optical discs, they intend to offer solutions that preserve valuable data for future generations."

That translates to "we rule the roost for the moment and may as well set the standard now before anyone else does."

The dynamic duo plans to sell the discs to the archiving industry in cartridges for automated storage and retrieval of data that's not needed very often but too important to delete. The two companies touted the water and dust-resistant qualities of optical as reliable form of long-term storage as a key selling point.

While the two didn't say anything about commercial media players in the press release, the format would go some way to alleviate the data glut of proposed 4K resolution media which dazzled at CES this year. Both Panasonic and Sony demoed 56-inch OLED UHDTVs at the show, and Blu-Ray ain't going to cut it.

The first 4K film, the 52-minute Timescapes, directed by Tom Lowe, weighs in at 160GB of data for its full cinematic munificence, and you can't buy a full-res Blu-Ray version. No doubt Peter Jackson and Michael Bay would be excited about being able to cram 300GB-worth of CGI wizardry on a suitably capacious format.

The announcement comes a little over five years after the Sony Blu-Ray format semi-officially won out over the rival HD DVD system. The battle for control of the DVD successor took years before it was settled, and the format war cost consumers and manufacturers millions in written-off kit.

This time around it's less likely that anyone will bother to challenge the format that Sony and Panasonic develop. Unless someone can come up with a low-cost alternative that's radically better, the two should have the market position to set the standard. ®

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