Sony, Panasonic Boost Blu-ray Storage Capacity

As demand for Blu-ray players (and high definition entertainment) rises and the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opens, Sony and Panasonic announce an upgraded standard that will beef up the discs' per-layer storage capacity.

As the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas kicks off this week, consumer electronics giants Sony and Panasonic announced a data evaluation technique that could boost Blu-ray's storage capacity to 33.4 GB per layer from 25 GB, resulting in a total storage capacity of 66.8 GB. The companies developed a technology called i-MLSE (Maximum Likelihood Sequence Estimation), which improves optical quality while reading or writing discs.

According to a report in the technology blog Tech-On, this method can be used with existing Blu-ray optics, which consists of a blue-violet laser diode and an object lens. "The problem until now has been there was no evaluation technology appropriate for 33.4 GB media using partial response maximum likelihood (PRML). PRML assumes inter-symbol interference, which makes it difficult to base optical disc quality evaluation on jitter, as is widely done, now for Blu-ray and many other optical discs," wrote Tech-On's Tadashi Nezu.

Tadashi quoted an anonymous source that stated at high-density recording, such as 33.4 GB, "the relationship between the error rate and jitter collapses, and it becomes extremely difficult to evaluate jitter." The blog also reports Sony, a member of the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), plans to introduce the i-MLSE technology to the organization for adoption. Other members of the BDA include Apple, Dell, Hitachi, LG, Phillips, Pioneer, Samsung and Sharp.

In December, the BDA announced the finalization and release of the "Blu-ray 3D" specification, which paves the way for high definition 3D films to be brought into consumers' homes. The organization explained the specification is display agnostic, meaning that Blu-ray 3D products will deliver the 3D image to any compatible 3D display, regardless of whether that display uses LCD, Plasma or other technology and regardless of what 3D technology the display uses to deliver the image to the viewer's eyes.

The Blu-ray 3D specification calls for encoding 3D video using the Multiview Video Coding (MVC) codec, an extension to the ITU-T H.264 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) codec currently supported by all Blu-ray Disc players. MPEG4-MVC compresses both left and right eye views with a typical 50 percent overhead compared to equivalent 2D content, and can provide full 1080p resolution backward compatibility with current 2D Blu-ray Disc players. The specification also incorporates enhanced graphic features for 3D. These features provide a new experience for users, enabling navigation using 3D graphic menus and displaying 3D subtitles positioned in 3D video.

The Blu-ray 3D specification is also designed to allow Sony PS3 game consoles to play back Blu-ray 3D content in 3D. Additionally, the specification supports playback of 2D discs in forthcoming 3D players and can enable 2D playback of Blu-ray 3D discs on the installed base of Blu-ray Disc players currently in homes. "Throughout this year, movie goers have shown an overwhelming preference for 3D when presented with the option to see a theatrical release in either 3D or 2D," said Victor Matsuda, chairman of the BDA global promotions committee. "We believe this demand for 3D content will carry over into the home now that we have, in Blu-ray Disc, a medium that can deliver a quality Full HD 3D experience to the living room."