While Blu-ray may not have been the screaming success some may of hoped it would become, there is hope that new compression and laser technologies might help propel the optical disc to the next level, and become the go-to storage of choice. Blu-ray's chance to regain market share could all hinge on Sharp's ability to launch a new and improved Blu-ray format.
These larger capacity Blu-ray discs don't just make good storage bets, they also have the potential to deliver multiple Hollywood blockbusters and entire seasons of television in data hungry HD, with better digital sound and ultimately much lower compression rates - all on one single disc.
According to a news report at tech-on , Sharp are almost ready to start mass production of the bigger capacity Blu-ray discs, discs capable of 100GB and 8x read speeds.
The secret to mass producing these triple and quad layer discs is thanks to recent advances in laser technologies, particularly a Sharp developed blue violet semiconductor laser, which features an oscillation wavelength of 405nm and an optical output of 500nw during operation. Blue violet lasers are chosen for work in Blu-ray data processing because of their relatively shortwave, which differs from conventional DVDs that user red lasers with higher wavelenghts of upto 600nm.
The new and improved Sharp Blu-ray discs have also been reconfigured with better optical materials manufacturing, including an "aluminium oxynitride (AlON) film (placed) between the edge face of the semiconductor laser" - which according to the tech-on report, is helping to give the discs their larger storage capacity.
But don't get too excited just yet - this isn't the first time a company has tried to heat up things in the burgeoning Blu-ray market by announcing bigger format optical discs to get a lead on the competiton. It was Hitachi, who, in 2007, announced that it was close to releasing a 100GB disc, consisting of four layers at 25GB each. But almost two years later, we're still waiting.
Similarly, Panasonic and TDK have also staked claims at the magic 100GB figure, but both companies have failed to turn out a larger disc format that would be compatible with current players. And perhaps that's exactly why we havn't seen either of these discs in stores yet.
In similar fashion, Pioneer excited markets in Taipei with a 'super multi-layer' read-only disc in December 2008 that could store as much as 400GB on each disc, with 16 layers at 25GB a layer. However, we're still yet to see a large scale Blu-ray disc format that will ratify all standards and work on past and future players alike.
For now, Sharp still need the Blu-ray disc Association (BDA) to ratify standards on the new disc technology before production can commence. If Sharp can be first to market with the bigger capacity discs, then perhaps the next coming of the Blu-ray may be here. As Blu-ray improves, it seems HD-DVD will be just a footnote in format wars history.