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Wednesday, June 29, 2005
HD-DVD Japan 2005 Conference Held by DVD Forum

The DVD Forum organized on Monday, 27th June, its "HD-DVD JAPAN 2005" conference, in the Akihabara Convention Hall, Tokyo, Japan. Attendees had the chance to see the latest updates in the HD-DVD format industry, the HD-DVD Video format details and the developments in hardware and software.

DVD Forum spokesmen presented the progress in the HD-DVD related standards. New here is the introduction of the 8cm HD-DVD ROM (4.7GB) media, included in the HD DVD-ROM Part 1 standard. The future roadmap of the 8cm HD-DVD ROM, includes a 2-sided single layer disc (9.4GB), a single sided 2-layer (9.4GB) disc and 2-sided, 2-layer media with 18.8GB capacity. Also outlined was how current manufacturing equipment used for DVD media could be used in the manufacturing process. The dual layer standard for HD DVD-R/RW has yet to be decided upon.

Regarding HD-DVD Video, the DVD Forum proposed the use of the 3X dual layer DVD-ROM disc. The disc will use the UDF 2.5 filesystem and the video content will provide copy-protected through the AACS scheme. The 3x DVD-ROM (dual layer) will use the the same physical format as present DVD (DVD9) and the HD-DVD Video will be an application format. According to the DVD Forum, the 3x DVD-ROM (dual layer) will be able to hold up to 2 hours of High Density DVD Video content with a suitable compression format such as the MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) codec.

In addition, 60GB dual sides, dual layered discs as well as dual layer hybrid discs (HD-DVD/DVD) were showcased.

Ver. 1.0 of the HD-DVD file and application format will be finalized in July.

The HD-DVD members also showcased their HD-DVD players. Toshiba, Sanyo and NEC presented their models, which were no different from those exhibited in CES and CeBIT. NEC plans to start selling its PC HD-DVD ROM drive later this year, and the first HD DVD-R/RW recorder early in 2006.

An external HD-DVD ROM prototype from NEC was connected to a PC through a USB 2.0 interface for the demonstration although the specific interface does not include the copy protection function, but there is a possibility that i-Link along with the copy protection may me used for external drives but for the moment, NEC will be concentrating on internal drives.

The DVD Forum also focuses on the compatibility of HD-DVD players with TV sets and displays, that do not have an HDMI input interface and will include the AACS protection scheme. Connecting the player through an analogue interface (composite) would result in a downgrade of the video resolution to 480p. Maintaining both compatibility and data protection is an issue that is expected to be clarified in the final version of the AACS specifications, expected to be published in August.

Thomson also demonstrated the Film Grain Technology (FGT). The FGT technology has been adopted in the MPEG-4 AVC(H.264) standard and offers rendering Of HD Video at low cost.

The Film Grain tool is a set of algorithms that automatically estimates film grain parameters, thereby enabling the editing and manipulation of picture quality after high compression processing. This enables low bit rate transfers and limited storage capacity for HD videos. Thomson's technology enables HD movies to be squeezed onto a single DVD with a quality that preserves the film's atmosphere.

Thomson's TFG technology was proposed as a mandatory format in the 29th Steering Comittee Meeting held in February 2005, without, however been approved.

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