51GB HD DVD Triple Layer
Toshiba and the HD DVD camp are attempting to trump the Sony Blu-ray Disc format once again, this time by introducing a new triple layer HD DVD-ROM format. This new HD DVD format is purported to hold 17GB per layer, bringing the total storage space to a whopping 51GB per disc. This action from the HD DVD camp is most likely a strategic move designed to introduce a new HD DVD product that will directly compete with Blu-ray’s 50GB two layer BD-ROM format, which is already available.
But will this be too little too late for HD DVD? The 50GB two layer BD-ROM discs are already available, but this new tri-layer HD DVD format has not yet seen the light of day as far as we know. Additionally, this new HD DVD-ROM format will only hold a measly 1GB more than the 50GB dual layer BD-ROM format. Will 1GB of additional storage make any difference?
What if Blu-ray introduces 75GB triple layer Blu-ray discs to the market? HD DVD probably will not be able to keep up. The Blu-ray camp has already demonstrated that is has the ability to produce discs with more than two layers. Hitachi and TDK have previously demonstrated 4 layer Blu-ray Discs with a massive 100GB capacity. Blu-ray’s ability to store 25GB per layer will always keep them ahead of HD DVD in the battle to add additional layers.
But that’s not all HD DVD has to worry about. A three layer disc should be much more difficult to manufacture than a two layer disc. Current optical disc manufacturers still have trouble producing good quality double layer DVD recordable discs in quantity. This means that even if this 17GB, triple layer format is approved by the DVD Forum, manufacturers could be hard pressed to produce the media in quantity (speculation). The more layers added to a disc, the more difficult it is to manufacture.
Another possible issue is backwards compatibility with first generation HD DVD players. Previous reports indicated that triple layer HD DVD discs would not be compatible with first generation hardware. This means that early HD DVD adopters with first generation hardware would have to cough up for new units in order to take advantage of the new 51GB format. This could seriously tick off the HD DVD customer base, possibly causing some to switch over to Blu-ray.