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Thursday, November 16, 2006
Memory-Tech to Offer Chinese Version of HD DVD Discs in China

Memory-Tech announced on Wednesday that it will increase investment in China-based Shanghai United Optical Disc to produce pre-recorded HD DVD discs specifically for the China market.

Memory-Tech will provide manufacturing equipment and technology to Shanghai United Optical Disc to begin production of pre-recorded HD DVD discs with an initial annual capacity of about two million discs in 2007.

Memory-Tech's investment was motivated by the expectation that the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will bring about a fast increase in demand for optical discs with pre-recorded high-definition content.

The pre-recorded HD DVD discs will be of China-specific versions. The establishment of a Chinese version of the HD DVD -ROM (pre-reocrded) discs was approved by the DVD Forum last September, following a proposal of the Optical Memory National Engineering Research Center, a Chinese research organization ("DVD Specifications for High Density Read-Only Disc (HD DVD-ROM) Physical Specifications, Version 9.9 (for China Only)).

The new format is supposed to have the same disc structure as the HD DVD, using two bonded 0.6-mm-thick platters. But it will slightly modify the physical layer and will simplify the video application layer. The resulting China-only format would be incompatible with a HD DVD player, at least without modifications on both the circuitry and the optical pickup unit (OPU). The new HD DVD format will be based on the AVS (Advanced Audio Video Coding Standard) codec.

The AVS standard is compatible with MPEG-2 at the system level, and it involves Chinese proprietary IP in the audio/video-compression algorithm. It will include an 4 Data bit/6 Channel bit FSM code and not the 8 bit / 12 channel ETM code (Eight to Twelve Modulation), used by HD DVD.

Compared with the already proposed H.264, the biggest strength of AVS lies in its easy implementation. In addition, from the encoding perspective, the popular H.264 requires more than twice the computing power of MPEG-2. For the same image quality, AVS is claimed to require about 30% less computing power than H.264.

At the same time, AVS-standard-setters promise that they will pursue a low-priced strategy in licensing the technology. In the past, without proprietary IP of their own, Chinese DVD-player makers had to pay large royalties to the 3C Alliance. The royalties have been a significant impediment to Chinese consumer-electronics enterprises, and therefore, many expect the Chinese market to embrace the low-license-fee strategy of AVS.

In addition to AVS support, the Chinese version of HD-DVD will include support for MPEG2, MPEG4 and Microsoft's Windows Media Video 9 (WMV9).

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