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Sun 1 Oct 2006 04:00 AM

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Once the war of words is over…

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The next-generation DVD format battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray may be remembered as little more than a phoney war in years to come, thanks to a breakthrough from UK based New Medium Enterprises.

As ECN went to press, the company announced in London that it had resolved a technical production issue that would enable the production of low-cost multiple-layer DVDs containing one film in both formats.

“Current technologies to create multiple layer discs mostly don’t work. We’ve created a technology for mass production of multiple layers that does not suffer from the well-known problem of low yields,” said NME chief technology officer Eugene Levich.

A low yield means that many DVDs coming off the manufacturing lines do not work and have to be discarded. The production costs of a multi-layer DVD using the new NME technology are estimated to be around US9 cents, compared with US6 cents for a single-layer DVD.

This 50% price increase compares favourably with the current generation of multi-layer recordable DVDs which cost three to five times as much to produce than a single layer disc, due to low yields.

The technological breakthrough coincided with news that a group of Warner Bros employees had filed a patent for the application of multiple formats on a single DVD disc.

NME said it had also created new technology that would enable playback of the next-generation multilayer DVDs. The current generation of DVD players can only read up to two layers. NME’s DVD discs can hold up to 10 different layers. It has created its own player, but is willing to license the technology to consumer electronics companies, Levich said.

Dutch company ODMS, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of optical discs, said it expected to have the first prototype production line based on NME’s technology operational early next year.

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