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DVD-R standard already in flux

Leapfrogging has become something of a way of life in the high-capacity storage world.

A week after the DVD-R Forum established a target storage capacity for the first generation of DVD-R disks, two companies are already planning to show products that exceed it.

Both Matsushita Electric and Taiyo Yuden have plans to showcase "write-once" recordable DVD-R disks that can hold 4.7GB on a single side at electronic trade shows later this year, according to JapanBizTech News, an online news service from Japan.

On September 26, the DVD Forum, an industry consortium that includes Matsushita, announced specifications for DVD-R disks that hold 3.95GB per side. DVD-R disks that hold 4.7GB per side were slated as a development for the next generation for the medium.

Leapfrogging has become something of a way of life in the high-capacity storage world. Although the principal manufacturers have agreed on a specification for read-only DVD disks and drives, they are jostling to establish their own technologies as the standard for the high-density mediums that record.

As a result, a reliable standard really doesn't exist. "It certainly calls into question why there is so much effort being put into the standards when the half-life is two weeks," joked Ted Pine, an analyst with InfoTech.

DVD-R will allow users to record data, but not erase or re-record. "It's like getting an acetate [phonograph recording disk] made," commented Pine. DVD-RAM, by contrast, will allow users to re-record, as they can with cassettes or video tape.

While less functional as a consumer device, DVD-R drives are expected to find appeal with software developers, who now have to pay replication houses to press demonstration disks. This process can run into the thousands of dollars.

The extra capacity, at least with Taiyo Yuden's technology, is made possible through a spin-coat technology that reduces manufacturing costs, according to the news service. Mitsubishi and Hitachi are also reportedly working on DVD-R disks that can hold 4.7 GB per side.

These higher storage efforts will not likely result in an industry-wide fragmentation on standards, which appears to be happening in the DVD-RAM arena, said Pine. Rather, the companys appear to be engaging in a game of one-upsmanship.

"It looks more like positioning to me," said Pine.