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Philips touts PC DVD-rewritable design

Philips Electronics aims to promote the DVD+RW format with a new reference design for PC drive makers, allowing them to manufacture drives faster and less expensively.

Philips Electronics has developed a reference design for DVD-rewritable drives in PCs in a push to promote the DVD+RW format.

The consumer electronics giant's semiconductor division on Monday debuted the main guts of a DVD+RW drive, including an integrated chipset, optical pickup unit, firmware and reference design, that can record speeds up to 8X. The company will license and sell components for the drive and expects manufacturers to have them available in the first half of next year.

"In the PC world, time to market is everything, and the rational here is to help drive makers to hit those tight windows and give them the quickest time to market," said Roger Gregory, a marketing manager in the company's semiconductor group.

Philips holds key patents for the DVD+RW format and stands to make significant revenue from royalty fees if the DVD+RW format becomes the dominant one in the market. The company has been one of the major promoters of the DVD+RW format along with Dell Computer, Hewlett-Packard and other members of the DVD+RW Alliance. The other major formats in the DVD-rewritable market include DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM, which are being promoted by another industry group called the DVD Forum.

Philips' reference design could help encourage further adoption of the DVD+RW format by presenting PC drive makers with the blueprints for manufacturing a drive. More and more PC makers are incorporating DVD-rewritable drives into their PCs. Dell on Monday announced it would use 4X DVD+RW drives in all its Dimension desktop PCs.

Analysts have said that PC drive makers and PC makers will play a significant role in establishing a dominant format in the market.

"Home PC makers are looking to DVD recording as an important market to tap, and it's just a matter of price before it really begins to impact the market," said Wolfgang Schlichting, an analyst with research firm IDC.

Philips last month announced a new reference design geared toward second-tier manufacturers.

The company is looking to cut the cost of making DVD+RW drives for PCs, Philips' Gregory said. With the integration in design and the economies of scale that a reference design provides, the cost of the drive may fall over time, he added. The drive design costs $65 in quantities of 100,000, and the company is working to lower that by continuing to integrate the number of chips used in the drives.

According to data from the first two quarters of the year, the DVD+RW format was stronger in the PC market than in the consumer electronics market, but it still trailed the DVD-RW format. However, DVD+RW is making gains; the market is still fairly small, and the slightest swing could change the makeup of the market, Schlichting said.

IDC is projecting that shipments of DVD-rewritable drives for PCs will be between 3 million and 4 million units, and that is expected to increase to almost 50 million in 2006.