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Wednesday, May 01, 2002
China and Taiwan DVD manufacturers push for new disc format

In a move to skirt licensing fees charged by DVD technology owners, 19 Taiwanese DVD manufacturers are in talks with counterparts in China to create a new disc format called EVD (enhanced versatile disc), with discs and players using the format scheduled to hit the market in the third quarter, according to a head researcher at Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI).

An umbrella organization called the “Advanced Optical Storage Research Consortium” will be set up by DVD disc and player manufacturers on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to promote EVD, said Derray Huang, deputy general director of the Opto-electronics and Systems Laboratories (OES) at ITRI. Specifications of EVD are being studied and will be finalized in the coming two months, Huang said.

Though Chinese DVD makers and researchers are developing an alternative standard called AVD (advanced versatile disc), they have agreed that EVD will be the sole future optical storage standard to be used in the Greater China region, Huang noted.

EVD will build on the current laser infrared-light technology and its data capacity will be similar to that of AVD. The two available versions of AVD format discs – single-sided, single-layer discs offering 6GB and single-sided, dual-layer discs offering 11GB – surpass the current 4.7GB single-sided, single-layer and 9.4GB dual-sided, dual-layer DVD discs in storage by a respective 27% and 17%, according to Huang.

The joint efforts to challenge existing DVD standards came as a natural result from escalating disputes over DVD technology licensing fees, Taiwanese manufacturers said, citing a lawsuit filed by Sony against China-based Apex Digital for exporting DVD players to the US without paying the required licensing fees. Though the case was recently settled, Chinese companies will likely keep scheming of ways to avoid licensing payments to DVD standard bearers like Sony and Philips, they said.

In addition, China, as the world’s largest DVD player manufacturer, already has a history of creating disc formats of its own, Taiwanese DVD makers said. Development of SVCD (super video compact disc), an updated version of VCD that began circulating in 1998, was coordinated by the Chinese government to circumvent DVD licensing fees and put pressure on DVD disc and player prices, local manufacturers said.

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