Blu-ray disc specification 1.0 approved

Hollywood (CA) - The Blu-ray disc founders group today approved version 1.0 of the physical specification of the Blue-ray disc (BD-ROM). First BD discs are expected to become commercially available in late 2005.

The approval of the spec provides disc manufacturers information to build and prepare their BD-ROM production lines. The discs are scheduled to arrive with supporting drives late in 2005, according to a spokeswoman from Hewlett-Packard, a founding member of the Blu-ray disc group.

Manufacturers such as Matsushita, Philips and Sony expect the manufacturing cost of a BD-ROM to be in the range of a DVD. The media will provide 25 GByte space on a single-layer disc and 50 GByte on a dual-layer disc - about five times more than current DVDs witch offer 4.7 GByte and 8.5 GByte, respectively. As a key difference to DVDs, BD-ROMs will include AES encryption (128 bit) to prevent content piracy.

The Blu-ray disc founders group includes 13 leading consumer electronics, PC and media companies, including Dell, Hewlett Packard, Hitachi, LG Electronics, Mitsubishi, Panasonic (Matsushita Electric), Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, and TDK.

The approval of the Blu-ray disc format trails the competing HD-DVD format (up to 30 GByte capacity), which was formally approved on June 11 by a steering committee of the 230-member-strong DVD forum. As HD-DVD, Blu-ray is based on blue lasers, which use shorter wavelength and allow an increase of data density for data stored on 12-cm BD or HD-DVD discs.

Blu-ray lately has been gaining steam with several announcements of drives in Japan as well as Sony's commitment to use the technology in the next-generation Playstation gaming console. Sony also announced to set up test production lines for Blu-ray discs in the United States this fall.