If the hardware industry has its way and digital content owners will play along, first generation Blu-ray and HD DVD may have a very short shelf life. Packing not only high-resolution motion pictures on the disc, but squeezing other "interactive" content such as games - that may rival the quality of console games, as we hear - then even 50 GByte will have publishers running out of disc space very quickly.
Fortunately, there's help in sight, as Sony already has been talking about an eight-layer 200 GB Blu-ray disc and TDK actually currently shows a prototype of a 100 GB at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The firm said that the capacity - enough to store nine hours of HD video - was reached by combining four 25 GB Blu-ray layers. The disc records data at 72 Mbps ("2x speed"), double the 36 Mbps rate of the current Blu-ray Disc specification, according to TDK.
TDK's Blu-ray quad layer technology
The first Blu-ray discs will record data not as fast as the current fastest recordable DVDs. While 2x translates into 9 MByte per second data transfer rate, the fastest (16x) recordable DVDs top out at about 21 MByte per second - and expected stay their due to the fragility of the surface material at 16x rotation speeds of about 11,000 rpm. TDK, however, indicated that next-gen Blu-ray media will outpace DVDs. The company said that it was able to record data in lab tests at 6x speeds or 27 MByte per second.
100 GB media are not expected to arrive before 2007.
Meanwhile, the HD DVD industry also has been working on greater disc capacities. Triple-layer HD DVD ROMs are already running in labs with 90 GB capacity, double-sided and dual-layer HD DVD-Rs at 60 GB as well as double-sided and dual-layer HD DVD RAMs at 64 GB according to the DVD Forum.