Monday, 8 December 2008

400GB Blu-Ray Discs

As an owner of a Playstation 3 and a fan of the Blu-Ray format(which I correctly predicted back in 2004 would win the format war over HD-DVD by Christmas 2008 - I shall attempt to find the presentation I gave that said so!), I read with great satisfaction that the 400GB discs being developed by Pioneer would be compatible with all current Blu-Ray players and Playstation 3s.

At present, the Dual Layer format that is most commonly used is capable of storing up to 50GB of information. Although this may seem like a lot (the same as 71 CDs), it is well documented that Hideo Kojima (the man behind the Metal Gear Solid series of games) found the storage capacity on Blu-Ray to be insufficient for his initial plans for Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots.

16 layer blu ray disc
16-Layer Blu-Ray Disc

With the fast development and capabilities of High-Definition TVs and Gaming, it is necessary for the discs that store the game data to keep up with the demands. There are even rumours that Sony are potentially looking to develop the Playstation 4 without an optical drive at all! The idea is that by the time the PS4 is released, the image quality and internet speeds will be developed enough that the games would be able to be downloaded and stored on a hard-drive. This would remove the disc capacity issue completely from the equation and allow the game developers to create the game to their plans.

Although a great idea in theory, it would mean that anyone without the latest in broadband technology would be unable to play the games! Limiting your sales potential would not exactly be a smart move. However, by removing the optical drive, the console would be quieter, use less energy and have fewer moving parts to go wrong. It would also be vastly cheaper to produce and, hence, sell.

By producing a Blu-Ray disc that contains 16 layers (!), each producing as strong a signal as that on the dual layer format, Pioneer have made a major step forward in the potential for Blu-Ray technology and perhaps bought itself another 10-15 years. The confirmation that these discs will work on existing players is a huge boost to the consumers that felt that the HD move away from DVD came too soon and may be worried about the next step up not being too far away.

The 400GB Blu-Ray discs should be commercially available by 2010. If the HD quality does not develop much further in the next year or so, then it would be great to be able to obtain whole TV series on a single Blu-Ray disc without dropping the HD quality. It would even be possible to have every episode of Friends TWICE at DVD quality on one disc!

It is even thought that by 2012 it will be possible to have 1TB (1000GB) fit onto 1 disc!

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