M2 Engineering AB, Singulus and Unaxis, major international disc replication equipment manufacturers, have already started to sell their replication machines. The new HD DVD/DVD compatible lines would allow a smooth transition to the production of HD-DVDs from the present DVD standard.
Disc manufacturers are also fully committed to meeting the demands of high definition content providers and consumers. Memory-Tech Corporation, Japan's largest independent disc replicator, confirmed manufacturability of HD DVD-ROM discs with its HD DVD/DVD compatible lines. Since May 2004 Memory-Tech has installed seven volume production lines that can produce both HD DVD and DVD discs, and more than one million HD DVD-ROM discs have been produced for evaluation using these HD DVD/DVD compatible lines. While production cycle times for standard DVD discs are 2.4 to 2.6 seconds, the compatible lines achieved a 2.8-second cycle time for a dual-layer 30GB HD DVD-ROM disc, which will become more efficient with continued production. Production yields, a major variable in disc cost, have already reached 90 to 95% -- almost the same as that of standard DVDs.
"HD DVD is the practical disc technology for the future. The existing 0.6mm disc structure has already proven a huge success with consumers," said Shiroharu Kawasaki, President and CEO of Memory-Tech. "Investment costs for new HD DVD/DVD compatible lines are comparable with those of standard DVD production lines. We can use the new lines to produce either HD DVD or DVD discs depending on consumer demand."
Sonopress, a German disc replicator and Bertelsmann group company, also shows confidence in the manufacturability of HD DVD discs. "To prepare for the future needs of our customers, Sonopress is actively developing the capability to manufacture HD DVD discs," said Peter Schaper, Vice President, Engineering, Sonopress. "The first samples of these new discs, along with our experience producing multi-layer DVD discs including DVD-14 (double-sided DVD discs, single-layer on one side and dual-layer on the other side) and DVD-18 (double-sided DVD discs, dual-layer on both sides), have given us a high degree of confidence in the manufacturability of multi-layer HD DVD discs."
All HD-DVD discs share the same basic structure as current DVDs: two 0.6-mm thick discs bonded back-to-back, the same fundamental structure used in the production of more than 1000 DVD disc replication lines around the world. From these existing DVD lines, 3.2 billion discs were produced in 2004 worldwide. By adopting the same proven structure and material as current DVDs, an HD DVD disc can be produced without incurring significant additional cost.
HD DVD offers a variety of discs, including: a 15GB single-layer, single-sided disc and a 30GB dual-layer, single-sided ROM disc, both approved and standardized by the DVD Forum. Toshiba also recently announced a high capacity triple-layer, single-sided 45GB ROM disc, and a hybrid (double-sided, dual-layer) ROM disc with 30GB of high-definition content on one side and 8.5GB of standard-definition on the other. Manufacturability for these new discs has been verified as well by key disc replicators.
Earlier this year, several Hollywood motion picture studios announced plans to issue a broad range of new releases and catalog titles on HD DVD beginning in Q4 2005.