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Thursday, November 13, 2003
Dual-Layer DVD+R Drives scheduled in first half of 2004

The first DVD-recording drives that write to dual-layer write-once DVDs will be available in the first half in the U.S. from Hewlett-Packard and Philips, the two companies announced. The products will be based on the DVD+R format championed by Philips, HP, and other members of the DVD+RW Alliance.

Philips will follow up, probably in the second half, with a home recorder that records onto the dual-layer DVD+R discs, which almost double the capacity of single-layer DVD+R discs to 8.5GB from 4.7GB. The write-once discs match the capacity of prerecorded dual-layer DVDs and are readable by existing DVD drives and movie players.

Earlier this year, the DVD-R/RW camp announced the development of dual-layer DVD-R technology but hasn't announced a target ship date.

Although the dual-layer +R format is still being finalized, the technology was demonstrated at October's CEATAC show in Japan, and a 1.0 spec will be written in December, said Hans Driessen, spokesman for Philips Optical Storage. That will pave the way for HP to offer an internal and external drive in the first half, said Maureen Weber, General Manager of HP's optical storage solutions business. Philips's drive will be internal.

Additional Alliance companies besides Philips will launch their first dual-layer DVD+R recorders and blank media in the first half in the U.S., Weber claimed.

During a briefing here, the companies again demonstrated the technology but didn't demonstrate protoypes of products intended to reach the market.

Existing DVD+R recorders won't write to either layer of the new dual-layer discs, but Driessen help out the hope for possible software upgrades, possibly combined with an IC change, to make it possible for current 8x DVD+R recording drives to write to both layers. The lasers of recorders with slower writing speeds lack the intensity to write to the semitransparent top layer or to the lower layer, Driessen said.

Once Philips and partner Mitsubishi Kagaku Media finalize the spec, they'll know whether an upgrade to existing 8x recorders is possible, he noted.

The companies are still working on dual-layer DVD+RW rewritable discs, which are more difficult to develop, he said.

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