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DVD-RAM may store more

The still-uncertain DVD-RAM standard looks to boost capacity to 4.7GB, to match DVD-ROMs.

The standard capacity of DVD-RAM could nearly double under new standards being considered by the DVD Forum.

The standards group will examine raising the current capacity to 4.7GB from 2.6GB, which would bring the recordable disc in line with its read-only cousin, DVD-ROM.

The larger-capacity drives won't be on store shelves until 1999 at the earliest, according to analysts. A DVD Forum working group, which has not yet formed, is expected to present its proposals by the end of the year. The formal specification won't be ready until fall 1998, according to a report in the online edition of Nikkei Business Publications.

DVD-RAM standards have been a contentious issue since the specification was finalized in April. Last month, Sony abandoned the format and announced its plan to create a new recordable DVD storage technology along with Philips Electronics, Hewlett-Packard, and other partners.

The same week, NEC announced its own plan to bring to market next year a disk technology that would eclipse the competition with 5.2GB of storage.

DVD-RAM's advantage over DVD-ROM is that it provides recording as well as playback.

DVD sales, slow so far, are expected to explode: as many as a million DVD-ROM drives could be in customers' hands by the end of the year, according to Dataquest. 1998 will see sales of 8.2 million more, with 10 million to be sold in 1999 as the drives increasingly come with new PCs. The discs, both RAM and ROM, are expected to provide customers with movies, databases, and other data-capacity-intensive DVD applications.