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Tuesday, October 10, 2006
First LSI to Offer Blu-Ray and HD DVD Writing

Japanese chip maker NEC Electronics said on Tuesday it began shipping the first signal processing LSI set that supports writing and reading for both HD DVD and Blu-ray discs, bridging a format war splitting the electronics industry in two.

Samples are currently priced at is 10,000 yen. NEC plans to start mass production of the new LSIs in the fourth quarter of 2006, while it targets monthly shipments of 300,000 during the business year starting April 2007.

The set consists of two LSI chips. The μPD63410 is responsible for data processing tasks such as error correction, while the operation of the second LSI, code-named μPC3360, is to control the read out of the disc data.

NEC managed to support the BD format by optimizing and improving its digital read channel circuit, already used for the HD DVD signals.

The LSI set is able to offer a maximum writing speed of 5x for both HD DVD and BD formats (HD DVD-R/RW/RAM and BD-R/RE) and of course, HD DVD and BD-ROM reading. Other features include up to 16x write for DVD±R/±RW/-RAM and 48x for CD-R/CD-ROM. In addition, it is supporting the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) protection technology as well as the CCS (DVD), CPRM and VCPS (DVD recordable). Note that both CPRM, VCPS as well as other technologies (MagicGate, AACS for Recordable etc.) have been also proposed as Managed Copy technologies, to be included in the Final AACS specifications.

The chipset is also compatible with current ATA and Serial ATA interfaces.

NEC said that it will also release a smaller version of the LSI set, making the overall circuit area smaller, in order to cover the needs of slim drives.

While the parent NEC belongs to the HD-DVD camp, NEC Electronics is supplying LSI chips both for the Blu-ray Disc and the HD-DVD to expand its customer base.

The new chip could lower costs to build dual-format players, helping consumers and the movie industry sidestep the rivalry between the two opposing camps.

However, still missing from the dual player equation is optical pick-up technology to read and play back both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats. Konica Minolta Opto Inc., a subsidiary of Konica Minolta Holdings Inc., and other companies are reportedly working on a hybrid optical pickup.

Note that the chip and the optical pick-up lens together can make up more than half the cost of a DVD player.

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