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NEC plans 5.2GB disk

The company will market a disk system with greater storage capacity than the proposed DVD-RAM media.

Electronics giant NEC next year will reportedly begin to market a computer disk system that will hold 5.2GB of data, a storage capacity that exceeds the capacity of two other proposed storage technologies, including DVD technology.

The revelation of NEC's storage strategy, reported by Japan's Nihon Keizai Shimbun business daily, is the second blow to the DVD-RAM effort this week. Sony, Hewlett-Packard, and Phillips Electronics have effectively abandoned the DVD-RAM effort in announcing that they would head a coalition aimed at creating a competing storage technology. (See related story)

DVD-RAM technology is supposed to allow users to record, erase, and re-record on the same piece of media. Current DVD products only allow users to play back information. Both DVD-RAM and the Sony technology will eventually be promoted as the basis for hard drives and disks in computers. Presumably, the NEC technology will be used the same way.

The 5.2GB disk capacity of NEC's proposed system will hold the equivalent of two hours of full-motion video, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun. The NEC system will reportedly be based on magneto-optical technology.

That capacity exceeds both the proposed capacity of DVD-RAM technology and the as-yet unnamed Sony technology. DVD-RAM discs are expected to have a capacity of 2.6GB, while the Sony technology will have a capacity of 3GB, Sony spokesman Rick Clancy said.

Industry observers earlier said that the Sony effort worried them because a new format would delay the introduction of recordable DVD drives.

"When the DVD-RAM specification was finalized by the DVD Forum in April, there was some speculation that Philips and Sony were disgruntled because they favored a different method for reading data. I wouldn't be surprised if they think that their technology is as good [as the approved technology] and that they can make more money using their technology," said Tom O'Reilly, editor and senior analyst for the DVD Report, an industry trade publication.

"Two formats that are incompatible isn't good news for the industry in general. It will cause more problems for the users, [who have] another choice to make, another source of confusion. It's not helping the DVD cause," O'Reilly said.