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Thursday, August 22, 2002
Cross-strait alliance formed to develop Enhanced Versatile Disc technology

An alliance for the development of enhanced versatile disc (EVD) technology is reported to have been formed between Taiwan and China businesses. The alliance is set to establish production specifications for the EVD discs, which is vital for cross-strait related business circles. Sources confirmed that the alliance is expected to demonstrate EVD discs and drives later this year or early next year.

Representatives coming from major optical disc and storage device makers in Taiwan and China recently signed a cooperation agreement in Beijing to jointly develop EVD technology. The move is aimed to help firms taking part in the activities to be more independent of those expensive licensed technologies from global giants in Europe and Japan.

Report said that nearly all major producers in the storage discs and drives fields on both sides of the Taiwan Strait have signed the agreement. Representatives are reported to have included big names of local optical storage media makers such as Ritek Corp., CMC Magnetics Corp., Prodisc Technology Inc., Infodisc Technology Co., Ltd., optical device and key parts makers Lite-On IT Corp., MediaTek Inc. and Acer Laboratories Inc.

As far as the Chinese side is concerned, representatives included its top-three optical device makers and relevant government technology officials. It showed both sides across the strait are enthusiastically engaging in related move, as it has been regarded as an urgent need for the data storage industry.

Representatives from the Opto-Electronics & Systems Laboratories (OESL) of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) also took part in the signing ceremony. It is significant, as the organization is the promoter of Taiwan's storage disc and drive-related industry and offer lots of support to the growth of the industry. Representatives of the OESL said that the EVD discs have several advantages over other optical disk formats.

EVD discs are able to be fully compatibility with the so-called high-definition TV (HDTV) format, with the 30 percent increase in storage capacity compared with DVDs, which are popular now. In addition, production costs of EVDs are comparatively lower, as it does not have to pay expensive licensed technologies.

However, the EVD discs are still not compatible with current mainstream DVD drives or players. But they forecast that the EVD format jointly developed by the two sides would soon become a mainstream specification in the international market.

Analysts expected the EVD venture to be able to create a win-win status for makers on both sides, as Taiwan has been enjoying a reputation of taking the role of a leader in the international optical storage production line. China has been regarded as a huge potential market.

Since DVD discs and drives still dominate both sides of the market now, Taiwan's major DVD player drive chip designers, MediaTek and Ali Corp., still are targeting that part of the market in China. They predicted China's DVD market will recover faster than expected, and will grow at a rapid speed in the month's ahead. They foresaw that China's DVD-player firms will begin to compete for drive chip supplies as they sensed the inspiring demand, despite the pending royalties disputes. Competition between Ali and MeidaTek for the recovering Chinese market also has intensified at present.

According to Taiwan's market researcher Market Intelligence Center (MIC), 42 million to 45 million DVD players are expected to be sold worldwide by the end of this year. It registered an increase of 50 percent from 29 million DVD players sold last year. China alone is estimated to have a 93 percent growth this year from last year's 15 million players.

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