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Wednesday, December 18, 2002
Mediatek sampling DVD±RW chipsets

Taiwan-based IC design house Mediatek recently released samples of DVD chipsets supporting both of the rival DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW formats. A handful of local optical storage drive makers have begun testing the chips for drives scheduled to launch next year.

Michael Gong, general manager of Lite-On IT’s optical disc drive business unit, said the company is likely to sample a DVD dual drive in January. However, he said although the device will be a hit among consumers, the company will still make rewritable DVD drives supporting only one format to avoid royalty fees from both camps. Gong said the company prefers the DVD+RW format, developed by DVD+RW Alliance, as it is supported by PC industry heavyweights such as Dell Computer, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Microsoft.

The DVD-RW standard was developed by Pioneer and backed by the DVD-RW Forum, of which several founding companies are from Japan, such as Hitachi, Matsushita (Panasonic), Mitsubishi, Pioneer, Sony and Toshiba.

Quanta Storage and Behavior Tech Computer (BTC) plan to launch DVD+RW or DVD-RW drives next year. Despite Mediatek’s new chipset supporting both formats, the companies can still disable one format and leave the other functioning.

The success of Mediatek’s DVD dual chip is highly welcome news for Taiwanese drive makers as the chip will be cheaper than imported ones from Japan or Europe, a local company said. After commercially launching the DVD dual chipsets, Mediatek is likely to incorporate the DVD-RAM format into the dual chips, sources added.

At present, Sony is the only company that sells DVD dual drives. The DRU-500A and the DRX-500UL support 2.4x DVD+R/RW, 2x DVD-RW, 4x DVD-R and 8x DVD ROM, and are priced at about US$300 and US$410, respectively.

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