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Monday, May 10, 2004
Toshiba, NEC ready for mass production of HD DVD media

Toshiba and NEChave built the necessary facilities to mass-produce discs based on their proprietary HD DVD format.

The facilities will allow them to make read-only discs at a cost comparable to that of existing DVDs.

The two manufacturers intend to promote their products to major US movie companies, a move that is expected to spark intense competition with Sony, Matsushita Electric Industrial and other firms supporting the Blu-ray format.

Two production lines for making HD DVDs have been installed at the Ibaraki Prefecture plant of Memory-Tech Corp, which supplies optical discs to Toshiba. Due to come onstream later this month, the lines can turn out one 30-gigabyte disc every 3.5 seconds.

Two more lines will be set up at Memory-Tech's subsidiary in Yamanashi Prefecture in August. The cost of installing each line has been limited to around 150 million yen, about 10% more than the amount required to set up a similar facility making conventional DVDs.

Production equipment unveiled by Sony this April makes one Blu-ray disc every five seconds. Its yield ratio is about 70%, compared with over 90% for facilities making HD DVDs. Blu-ray discs, however, boast larger capacities.

The success of advanced DVDs will greatly depend on the ability of manufacturers to supply low-cost discs to major film producers, especially those in Hollywood.

Toshiba and other manufacturers aim to market HD DVD players as early as 2005. Until then, they will just supply sample discs to the labs of electronics makers and other firms.

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