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A new coating on top of the same polymer-based substrate as DVD

Count 'em, four layers

The optical scheme of the VMD drive

Another look at the VMD drive
A DVD capable of holding 20GB could go head-to-head against HD DVD and Blu-ray

The home entertainment market is still wrestling with having two HD optical formats, HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc,  but soon it will have to deal with another. UK-based New Medium Enterprises (NME) has developed the Versatile Multilayer Disc (VMD), a new optical-based format capable of storing 20GB of data.

Unlike HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc, VMD is a red-laser technology that achieves its storage capacity by using a greater number of layers. VMD is precisely the same size and thickness as DVD. However, while DVD technology utilizes two layers of a disc, VMD technology has conceived multi-layering, where up to 5GB can easily be stored on each layer.

New Medium Enterprises said that in January 2007 that it secured worldwide patents surrounding its technology that provides up to eight information layers on each side of a disc. NME patents filed in 2004 cover the principles of NME's “modified 2P process,” which involves producing more than two layers on a single-sided disc, and allow for the replication of multilayer discs with the production yield and subsequent production costs comparable to current DVD production. The patent also covers the general set-up of a VMD production line and method of playing-back multilayer discs.

NME says that its VMD technology drastically diminishes the cross talk between layers—a problem that prevented original DVDs from breaking through the dual-layer barrier. Keeping cross talk at bay is a separating layer that holds a definite distance between neighboring information layers. The intermediate layers are formed with application of so-called “2p technology.” It is a very simple process implemented on the usual DVD bonding machines, according to NME.

VMD technology has been validated by established Netherlands-based replicator VDL ODMS, and NME has entered into a production agreement with the replicator to produce the mass production machinery based on standard DVD equipment augmented by VMD 2P technology.

“Our scientists and engineers have been working to perfect the 2P process for years, while many others abandoned this process as too costly and complex,” said Mahesh Jayanarayan, NME CEO. “With the validation of VMD technology by an established replicator and our strong patent portfolio in multilayer disc technology, we are excited about our position to help provide answers and low cost solutions to the high-definition disc debate.”

Current VMD are quad-layer, yielding 20GB, and New Medium Enterprises has already outlined specifications for 24GB, 30GB, 40GB and 48GB sizes. For cost reasons, NME says that its technology works best with red-laser discs. However, the company believes that its multilayer technology is also applicable to blue-laser discs for 200GB of storage. Toshiba has said it has achieved a triple-layer HD DVD capable of storing 51GB, while Ritek claims it has designed HD DVD and Blu-ray media with 10 layers for up to 250GB of storage.

The extra space afforded by even red-laser VMD has led the format to be another option for high-definition video. Although dual layer HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc media hold 30GB and 50GB, respectively, the 20GB afforded by VMD is still able to hold a feature length, high definition film thanks to advanced video codecs such as VC-1 and MPEG-4 AVC.

NME is touting HD VMD as a true high definition format with 1920 x 1080i/p resolution, up to 40Mbs data transfer rate, video upconversion for SD DVD, AES encryption and all region codes. HD VMD supports the same range of audio and video codecs of HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc, and will also support a number of open source video codecs in the future, according to the company.

As with any new optical format, new players are required. In a three-year deal with NME, PC Rush will be distributing and marketing in the U.S. channel the HD VMD Media Player Duo and HD VMD Media Player Quattro. The players, designed for VMD, will also upconvert existing standard-definition DVD collections to HD resolutions. The HD VMD Media Player Duo, starting at $199 (MSRP) and the HD VMD Media Player Quattro, starting at just $249 (MSRP), will both be available from PC Rush in Q2 2007.

“The first products will be available in the world’s markets, including the U.S., very shortly,” added Jayanarayan. “With [our] HD media format quietly adopted by content providers and distributors in 12 regions of the world … HD VMD Media Format and products will become a universal media format and standard worldwide.”

NME has signed content and distribution deals in 12 regions worldwide, including Brazil, Central Europe, China, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Japan, the Middle East Russia, Scandinavia and the United States.

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so instead of 1 pause.....
By otispunkmeyer on 3/12/07, Rating: 0
RE: so instead of 1 pause.....
By Bladen on 3/12/2007 4:28:39 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe they could make some kind of dual laser tech that buffers it before the transition or something.

I.e. Laser 1 reads first layer, then 2 mins (or less) before laser 1 finishes reading the first layer, laser 2 sets up on layer 2. 2 mins before laser 2 finishes reading layer 2, then laser 1 sets up on layer 3, and so on.

I don't know how technically difficult this is though, maybe very.

P.S. It is good to see that Dailytecg seems to post 1st go these days, instead of that "Oops, something went wrong..." message.

RE: so instead of 1 pause.....
By Visual on 3/12/2007 5:58:32 AM , Rating: 5
the pauses between layers are caused by dumb player design, they are not format flaws.

you sure as hell don't need dual lasers to avoid them - just use a speed greater than 1x to read ahead and buffer enough data to last you for the switch.

RE: so instead of 1 pause.....
By DocDraken on 3/12/2007 7:05:01 AM , Rating: 2
you sure as hell don't need dual lasers to avoid them - just use a speed greater than 1x to read ahead and buffer enough data to last you for the switch.

Which a lot of players do. I know my fairly old Denon DVD2900 reads at 2X and has a buffer for the layer changes.

RE: so instead of 1 pause.....
By FITCamaro on 3/12/2007 6:41:14 AM , Rating: 2
You have a crappy DVD player then. My first gen Xbox has no problem with dual layer discs. Nor does my PS2 or even the iBook I use on planes.

RE: so instead of 1 pause.....
By typo101 on 3/13/2007 6:09:50 PM , Rating: 2
actually. i've tried 2 dvd drives in my xbox (came with crappy thomson, upgraded to phillips i think) and it still seems to stutter on DL discs.

RE: so instead of 1 pause.....
By frobizzle on 3/12/2007 6:43:04 AM , Rating: 2
during a movie (dual layer discs, my dvd player at least has a small pause inbetween transitions from layer 1 to 2) we now have 3 little pauses? no thanks

Perhaps you need to buy some new equipment. DVD players have buffers built in to prevent those pauses. It sounds like yours is malfunctioning.

RE: so instead of 1 pause.....
By JimFear on 3/12/2007 8:31:05 AM , Rating: 2
My 360 pauses between layers but then again they suck ass as DVD players :(

RE: so instead of 1 pause.....
By FITCamaro on 3/12/2007 9:46:09 AM , Rating: 2
I don't see how the 360 has a problem like that with DVD playback when the original Xbox doesn't.

RE: so instead of 1 pause.....
By Hemipower on 3/12/2007 2:15:45 PM , Rating: 2
Trust me the 360 pauses, I have confirmed the 360 pause on all 7 360's I have owned. I have not used the ps3 as a dvd player so I do not know. Here are others I have used that pause. Philips dvp 642, Samsung hd860, samsung hd960, Samsung HT-XQ100 htib, slime silver ps2, original ps2, cheapo magnavox, portable dvd players. Players i have used that don't pause: none so far.

RE: so instead of 1 pause.....
By bldckstark on 3/13/2007 11:59:06 AM , Rating: 2
I have a 360 and an HD-DVD player on it. I have never seen a layer change pause on any of the hundreds of movies I have played on either player. I use the 360 because it has the best output of any DVD player I own.

RE: so instead of 1 pause.....
By ViperROhb34 on 3/12/2007 7:41:11 PM , Rating: 2
I know I've watched about 10 movies on my 360 and NO pauses. I experienced pauses on a couple of those same movies using my JVC DVD player though - like The Matrix .

RE: so instead of 1 pause.....
By Oregonian2 on 3/12/2007 12:40:28 PM , Rating: 2
For regular DVD's we use $80 Sony players (probably $40 now, they're several years old now) and I've never seen such a pause having watched a lot of dual-layer DVDs (NetFlix). May depend on one's player.

RE: so instead of 1 pause.....
By Hemipower on 3/12/2007 2:16:47 PM , Rating: 2
waht is the model of the sony. I wouldn't mind trying it out and for only 40 bucks, it will be worth it.

By Assimilator87 on 3/13/2007 10:56:45 AM , Rating: 2
I never even knew discs paused during layer transitions. How long are the pauses?

RE: so instead of 1 pause.....
By Oregonian2 on 3/13/2007 5:48:36 PM , Rating: 2
Haven't actually seen a Sony for $40, but did see a Toshiba for $40 at Costco the other day. The Sony they had was the up-scaling model (which I bought at a higher price), but I'd assume Sony has a competitive bottom end unit for a similar price (the Toshiba had the basic features of the $80 Sony that used to be at Costco a couple years previous (that I bought three of)).

RE: so instead of 1 pause.....
By walk2k on 3/14/2007 2:03:32 AM , Rating: 2
Hah, that's true, but only IF movies are ever be released on this format, which they never will be. Like those "triple-layer" HD-DVDs, never gonna happen folks.

One layer change is bad enough. And yes, EVERY player has some layer change, you probably just don't notice it because they hide it during a clever transition (like a fade to black). I usually notice it the most when the sound completely drops to 0 for a tenth of a second or so...

RE: so instead of 1 pause.....
By glennpratt on 3/14/2007 1:52:32 PM , Rating: 2
And yes, EVERY player has some layer change, you probably just don't notice it

This is just plain wrong.

I wonder......
By cheetah2k on 3/11/2007 10:41:25 PM , Rating: 1
Will multi-layer tech on DVD disks become the "Laser Disk" flop of the optical media industry??

With all these different tech's out there to choose from these days, I'm a bit confused as to what to buy into these days.

For those of us who havent bought into the BR or HD DVD format, its going to be a "wait-n-suck-n-see" scenario

RE: I wonder......
By Gatt on 3/11/07, Rating: -1
RE: I wonder......
By FITCamaro on 3/12/2007 9:49:26 AM , Rating: 2
Blu-ray and HD DVD have also been cracked as well. So that issue is mute.

And HD DVD is still doing fine. The only reason Blu-ray sales look impressive is because of the PS3. I doubt many are buying the PS3 as a Blu-ray player.

RE: I wonder......
By Scorpion on 3/12/2007 1:43:03 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt many are buying the PS3 as a Blu-ray player.

I suspect in a way this has become closer to reality than you might think. With the lack of critically acclaimed PS3 titles I suspect that most owners are instead using this feature more than was expected. If I owned a PS3 right now I bet I would be using it as a Blu-Ray player more than anything. Its almost as if this is some sort of unexpected positive for Sony. Although I think the impact is mostly a reinforcement to the mindset of the "had-to-have-it" PS3 owners, who were probably already sold on Blu-Ray. However, I'm sure it has had an impact on the PS3 buyers who bought the console just for the games, and are now finding themselves increasing their Blu-Ray disc collections.

I cannot say for sure, as I only know a single person who owns a PS3 right now, but this is the impression that I get.

RE: I wonder......
By Schmeh on 3/12/2007 3:17:24 PM , Rating: 1
Actually, not only are Blu-ray players outselling HD-DVD players, Blu-ray movies are out selling HD-DVD movies. Blu-ray outsold HD-DVD for the second straight month in February, doing so by a 2:1 margin.

RE: I wonder......
By BigToque on 3/11/2007 10:52:01 PM , Rating: 3
Assuming that they can update this technology to use blue lasers then they will have a really good product that could replace BR and HDDVD.

$200 HD DVD player
By joust on 3/11/2007 10:37:04 PM , Rating: 2
The HD VMD Media Player Duo, starting at $199 (MSRP) and the HD VMD Media Player Quattro, starting at just $249 (MSRP), will both be available from PC Rush in Q2 2007.

I think we have a winner here, folks! If it starts at $200, that's great! I wonder how long it'll be 'til it's down to $150 and $100?

I wouldn't be surprised if the movie studios decide to ignore this format because of existing HD-DVD/BluRay allegiances. The movie studios also love to screw the consumer.

RE: $200 HD DVD player
By TheDoc9 on 3/12/2007 11:10:37 AM , Rating: 2
don't know about that, I'm not buying a new $200 dvd player. Whose to say it will play discs with eight layers. Whose to say they really will have eight layer discs. Hell, how much does a 4 layer dvd cost? As much as an hd-dvd likely. I'll pass.

RE: $200 HD DVD player
By Oregonian2 on 3/12/2007 12:51:14 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like it'll start partway there if the MSRP is $199. Costco or net sellers should have it near $150~170.

But the thing not talked about is CONTENT and how much that,
will cost. If HD movies can be sold for near regular-DVD
prices, and priced that way NOW, HD and Blu formats would be
toast should all the content providers jump on it. REALLY
big "if" though. Doubt they will, esp not Sony's studios. :-)
So in that respect, it'd be really uphill for it to succeed.

But since it plays regular DVD's and upconverts, that puts it
in a class of say, $120~200 regular DVD-ONLY players that
upconvert. Not far off, so they could be worthwhile buying
even if support is marginal because the monetary risk is
minimal for those buying the upconverting DVD player anyway
(I just bought one last week).

But content and pricing of that content is critical.

Change of mind
By SleepNoMore on 3/12/2007 12:33:38 AM , Rating: 2
I did not understand about hi def video until today. I have a 32" Panasonic CRT TV that was 600 bucks a few years back and a conventional JVC DVD player. So I go into Fry's to find some other stuff and there in the foyer is The Eagles in some live concert in Austrailia on HD-DVD. Understand that I don't really care for the Eagles. I'd never spend money on any Eagles video. However the quality of the video on a 50" plasma display was stunning. Even the * fog * on the varilights was defined. I was almost looking at the pits in the guitar fretboards. Sheesh. I would have to think that Blue Ray would look as good if not better. I figure now that I will go hi-def, where as before I looked at it as a "so what" wrinkle. It's just a matter of time and money, dammit... heehee.

RE: Change of mind
By Souka on 3/12/2007 1:33:02 AM , Rating: 2
Heh... I'm SD all the way...for now... 27" Panasonic TV, Comcast basic-ANALOG (hasn't been a listed option for 2+ years), and a netflix subscription....

Once my TV has a prob however....if that happened today... I'd say 50-60" Plasma, Blue-ray DVD player, and a surrond setup....but prob keep the Analog TV ($12.95/month) since we really just watch the local news...

RE: Change of mind
By TSS on 3/12/2007 8:49:22 AM , Rating: 2
and if by any change you get tired of that money of yours i'd glady dispose of it for you.

back ontopic, i think i'll just crawl under a rock and let a few years pass before i buy anything "next gen", since it seems to be the standard to create a new standard these days.

i'll wait for the combo drives.

The real issue
By Shadowself on 3/12/2007 9:15:41 AM , Rating: 2
is that less than 5% of the currently shipping HD DVD and Blu-ray disks have less than 20GB on them. Additionally, less than 10% have the movies themselves (ignoring overhead, extras, etc.) with less than 20GB.

The fact is that virtually all HD DVD disks ship with the 30GB version because the need the space, and the HD DVD group has announce plans to go to 51GB because they realize that 30GB is sometimes too little space. Blu-ray has moved a significant fraction of its shipping disks to 50GB (and the trend is that virtually 100% will be 50GB by the end of the year) because 25GB was just too limiting, and the Blu-ray group has announced they plan to go to 100GB for studios that want it.

Until this new format gets ABOVE the 30GB barrier it is dead in the water. Having an absolute maximum of 48GB at this stage is just plain stupid -- too little, too late.

RE: The real issue
By Andypro on 3/12/2007 12:18:01 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, it's because the studios are, for the most part, sticking with their crappy MPEG2 coding. They haven't been recoding to AVC/H.264 (it takes longer and all their equipment is already set up for MPEG2 encoding).

20GB is plenty. Heck, even a dual layer DVD @ 9GB is enough to hold a feature length film in high def using a reasonably good bitrate encoded by AVC.

RE: The real issue
By walk2k on 3/14/2007 2:18:14 PM , Rating: 2
DVD @ 9GB is enough to hold a feature length film in high def using a reasonably good bitrate encoded by AVC
NOT . Unless you define "feature length" to be under 1 hour or "reasonably good" to be "shit quality".

Even AVC needs at least 15-20 megabits and that's just for the picture. Add another 1-4 megabits for audio (even forgetting about alternate langauges, director commentary, etc etc etc etc...) and you need at LEAST 20-24 megabits for "reasonably good" quality. Do the math genious - 9 gigs / 24 megabits = a whole whopping 50 minutes will fit on your DVD-9.

Hope you like flipping the disc 3 times during the movie...

Sorry, Too Late
By Micronite on 3/12/2007 11:32:31 AM , Rating: 2
This won't go anywhere. By the time they get this to mass production, Blu-ray or HD-DVD will dominate the market. Who wants a disc that can hold 20G when an already accepted solution can hold twice as much.

RE: Sorry, Too Late
By Oregonian2 on 3/12/2007 1:04:54 PM , Rating: 2
If you went into a major store, say Costco, Walmart, Sam's Club, or whatever and asked people randomly who are buying DVDs as to how much data the disk can hold, I'll bet most don't have a clue. The number will probably drop to near zero if you ask how much data is actually on a particular movie disk they're buying.

A higher percentage of the HD format people will probably know an answer to the first question due to the early adopters being more likely to be people who know. But still won't be able to answer the second.

People will be buying movies, not gigabytes of video data.

Else they'd maybe get upset that some regular DVD's only have about 3-Gb on them. Not eight point something. :-)

RE: Sorry, Too Late
By walk2k on 3/14/2007 2:01:11 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly, they buy movies, and not one single movie will ever be released on this "format".

For cyring out loud...
By TheRequiem on 3/12/2007 10:39:12 AM , Rating: 1
Can we just accept Blu-Ray and move on??

This is becoming ludicrous.

RE: For cyring out loud...
By lumbergeek on 3/12/2007 11:29:21 AM , Rating: 4
Can we just accept HD-DVD and move on??

This is already ludicrous

This is just what we needed
By brystmar on 3/11/2007 10:23:27 PM , Rating: 2
market segmentation++


RE: This is just what we needed
By swizeus on 3/12/2007 6:59:07 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder how market will adopt this. I think there has been to many standards when bluray came out and there's another new, these round stuff's format stuff won't be standard anymore. Too many play-back unit to buy

Where's the content?
By UNCjigga on 3/11/2007 11:44:32 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously, not one mention in the article of any major studio or distributor signing on to this format. I'll pass for now.

RE: Where's the content?
By walk2k on 3/14/2007 1:59:04 AM , Rating: 2
There is no content. This "format" is utterly DOA.

By Nyu on 3/12/2007 4:41:37 AM , Rating: 2
Who cares about HD or SD.. it's about the storage capacity.

RE: Storage
By Oregonian2 on 3/12/2007 12:57:21 PM , Rating: 2
Only for users who use it for computer data storage. For the mainstream market it's not storage capacity, it's just "will it hold my movie with the quality I expect". With H.264/AVC 20Gb should be great.
Don't recall if this new player plays that format though.

By Etern205 on 3/12/2007 10:20:35 PM , Rating: 3
If HVD comes out,watch it bite every other formats in the

Studio Profit?
By Adsski on 3/12/2007 3:35:30 AM , Rating: 2
I think the studios may take an interest, if this new format can be produced on the same cost basis as the existing DVD format then their production costs will be less that either blue laser format.

Allied to this are two other important considerations, firstly the new players are significantly cheaper than either blue laser format and so more likely to be chosen by the customer given equal quality of picture. And secondly High Def is still High Def the studios will reap the benefit of cheaper production but still charge us inflated prices for the same movies we already own on DVD on a new High Def format. The only difference to them will be a higher margin per disc.

are they for real?
By Visual on 3/12/2007 6:17:04 AM , Rating: 2
this is a great breakthrough if it's true - until now a dvd (ad hddvd btw) layer was too thick to fit more than two on one side of a disc.

applying this for blue lasers would be a great news for hddvd, and possibly bluray... though bluray's data layers are already much thinner, and technology to achieve 6 and 8 layers has been prototyped long ago already so i kinda doubt the benefits here.

there's much more work they'd need to do before they launch their own format though - complete specifications of encodings, content protection, interactive components, a recordable variant of the media, negotiate with content-providers, etc.
this makes me very suspicious for the reported Q2 availability of the new players. would be great if they manage to surprise me though, and be for real.

Great Idea
By mercilessming on 3/12/2007 8:05:44 AM , Rating: 2
If studio were really concerned with picture quality and movie experience why don't they do there movies like the Old SuperBit titles and Include DTS sound, instead all the stupid animated menus and bonus junk that is usually watched only onece. I remember watching Desperado on SuperBit and remembering how great the film looked especially considering the age/budget/ film stock that it came from. And SuperBit fit on one dual layer dvd.

too much choice!
By murderbynumbers on 3/12/2007 9:30:50 AM , Rating: 2
I dont get any layer transition pause on my 360.It works swell. I have to say i'm getting pretty confused with all these emerging HD media. Its just getting silly now....

By Mitch101 on 3/12/2007 10:18:00 AM , Rating: 2
I dont mind another format because to me its just another higher capacity disc.

However I do need a reasonably priced burner already to help clean out some of my hard drives as 8.6gig doesnt cut it and BlueRay burners are not cost effective. Right now hard drives are the best backup media at 25 cents a gig.

20 gig discs would be great because most items I have recorded in HD are in TS format and most would fit on a single disc with the occasional item taking 2. I would no longer have to convert them to HD-DIVX even then HD-DIVX files in good auality are about 9-11gig. 20gb is a respectable size if its cost effective which I suspect it is.

My fear is all these formats still arent enough and I can only hope the 100 gig per layer DVD burners will arrive at lower costs sooner than later.

I guess what I am getting at is the home user really need a good archive solution besides additional hard drives since DVD exceeded tape storage size for home use on every level. Most tape backup systems are unreasonably priced for home use.

Yes I might be able to get 100 pack of DVD's which is the equivilent to 400Gig but at 8 minutes a burn and setting up the burn another 4 minutes eject and all is 20 hours of time to backup 400 gigs.

By oTAL on 3/12/2007 1:19:40 PM , Rating: 2
Another *nice* piece of technology destined to be forgotten....
Still, the company will probably do all right when they start using their patents to extort money out of everyone who uses anything similar to what they just did.... independently of whether it was the obvious evolutionary path of optical technology.

The movies that really matter
By jmunjr on 3/14/2007 2:35:33 AM , Rating: 2
I don't care what format they come in, so long as I can get all my porn in HD. These format wars are not helping either.

I am still awaiting the day I can relax by the fireplace in my robe while eating fruit and drinking wine, all while my favorite porn stars get it on in 1080p HD on my 65 inch plasma.

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins
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