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Home > Technology Previews > General Computing

Sunday, February 17, 2002
Cebit 2001 Show

30. New super high capacity CD technology

New super high capacity CD technology offers dramatic advantages for video recording, portable audio and data backup applications

Ability of multilevel technology to Triple Capacity and Write Speed of CD-RW drives offers PC and CE manufacturers cost-effective new storage options for Desktop, Convergence and Portable Products

CeBIT 22nd March 2001 - With its ability to store 2 GB of data on a 120mm disc or 650 MB on a tiny 80mm ML disc, MultiLevel Recording is a key enabling technology for PC and CE manufacturers seeking low-cost, high-density storage in a broad range of desktop and portable products. That's the message that TDK and Calimetrics are bringing to CeBIT, as the two companies demonstrate the benefits of ML technology, which transforms familiar CD-RW drives into super high capacity/super fast drives with the addition of a single ML IC. TDK and Calimetrics are the founding members of an industry-wide alliance of companies supporting ML technology.

The high capacity and low cost of ML media and drives give the consumer electronics industry an important new storage alternative for future video, audio and digital imaging applications. As an option for A/V recording systems, such as archiving content from a personal video recorder's hard drive or for recording Internet-delivered program material, a 2 Gbyte 120mm ML disc is an extremely attractive personal-use storage solution. With it's transfer rate of 5.4 Mbyte per second ML is as well an ideal tool for archiving desktop and server data on a 120 mm 2Gbyte ML disc with an reliable and easy to use CD-RW writer instead of a complicated tape streamer.

ML technology 80mm discs outperform the capacity of a standard 64 MB Flash memory card by 10 times and allows 650 Mbyte of music, photographs or data to be stored on a tiny 80mm disc. ML could be used in a megapixel camera with an built-in 80 mm ML disc drive, that records around 660 high-quality images on a 650 Mbyte ML disc. Or an MP3/CD player, which could deliver about four hours of music on a 60 mm ML disc (approx. 200 Mbyte). A typical handheld video recorder could put approximately 3 hours of high-quality MPEG-4 video on the 650 Mbyte of a 80 mm ML CD-R.

The dramatic gains in capacity and speed offered by the new ML format makes it the ideal bridge to the future optical disc formats. ML drives will be very competitively priced at just a little more than CD-R/RW drives because the technology is IC-based. Hardware manufacturers can add ML capability to their CD-R/RW drives without altering existing optics, mechanics or manufacturing infrastructure. From a media perspective, ML discs maintain the cost-per-megabyte efficiencies of conventional CD-R and CD-RW discs and ML drives retain backward compatibility with conventional CD-R/RW recording, enabling users to keep CD's universal compatibility when so desired.

TDK and Calimetrics, Inc., the prime developer of MultiLevel Recording technology, have formed the ML technology alliance to apply Calimetrics' MultiLevel Recordingä (ML) technology to create a new high-speed/high-capacity recordable and rewritable optical disc format based on the familiar and inexpensive CD-R/RW platform.

In addition to TDK and Calimetrics, members of the ML alliance include: Sanyo Semiconductor, a leading manufacturer of controller chipsets used by many CD-RW drive manufacturers; Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, a leading maker of CD-RW media, sold under the Verbatim and Mitsubishi brands; and Plextor, a leading manufacturer of high-performance CD-R/RW drives. TDK has established a dialogue with leading CD-R/RW drive manufacturers such as Yamaha Corporation and the Optical device division of Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd about joining the ML alliance.

ML is not envisaged as a replacement for recordable DVD drives. The ML format is a bridge to the era of recordable DVD. For the next several years, however, there will be a tremendous demand in the market for a format that extends and enhances CD storage, speed and value. MultiLevel Recording technology can be transferred to the DVD platform, where it will offer similar gains in recording capacity and write speed.

TDK intends to introduce internal and external ML drives and media to the market later this year. The drives will be available with various connectivity solutions such as ATAPI on the internal drive and IEEE1394 (FireWire) and USB2.0 on the external devices. The new write-once disc will offer the highest transfer rate at the lowest cost per Mbyte of any random-access removable storage media.

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