The format war around next generation DVDs may be over before it has begun, thanks to a breakthrough from a British media technology company.
Britain-based New Medium Enterprises (NME) said on Tuesday it had solved a technical production problem that makes it possible to produce a cheap multiple-layer DVD disk containing one film in different, competing formats.
"Current technologies to create multiple layer disks 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 are not working and have to be discarded.
The production costs of a multi-layer DVD using the new NME technology are estimated to be around 9 cents, compared with the 6 cents for a standard single-layer play-back DVD, according to Dutch company ODMS, one of the world's leading makers of production lines for optical disks.
This 50 percent cost increase compares favorably with the current generation of multi-layer recordable DVD disks which cost 3 to 5 times as much to produce than a single layer disk, due to low yields.
The technological breakthrough comes one week after three employees at movie studio Warner Bros. filed a patent for the application of multiple formats on a single DVD disc.
"There's no collision between Warner and us. They patent the application, we are patenting the technology. These are complementary patents. I'm glad it's happened. Warner opened our eyes, because it shows they really want to do this and create multi-format, multi-layer disks," Levich said.
Time Warner is the world's largest media company and owns Warner Bros. Former Warner Home Video President James Cardwell joined NME as a board member last month.