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Blu-ray Disc spec approved

Next-generation DVD specification approved, clearing way for manufacturers to produce read-only disks.

A group promoting and developing a format for a next-generation DVD technology announced on Wednesday the completion of the first version of the specification, paving the way for disk production.

The Blu-ray Disc Founders group said the physical format for the read-only version of Blu-ray Discs is complete, so manufacturers can begin preparing to produce disks. Players and discs are not expected to be available until late 2005. Other aspects of the read-only version, such as which codecs to support, have to be determined. Rewritable Blu-ray Discs and recorders are already available in Japan from Panasonic and Sony.

Blu-ray Disc, and rival format HD-DVD, are considered next-generation DVD technologies and are based on blue lasers. Current DVD technology is based on red lasers. The blue-laser technology will allow greater storage capacities, up to 50GB for dual-layer rewritable disks, compared with 4.7GB on current DVDs.

The two blue-laser formats are incompatible, but both are compatible with current DVD formats.

The Blu-ray Disc Founders group consists of 13 member companies: Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, LG Electronics, Matsushita Electric Industrial, Mitsubishi Electric, Pioneer, Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sharp Electronics, Sony, TDK and Thomson.

Blu-ray Disc Founders has been working to add support from companies by opening up its membership ranks.