Blu-ray/HD DVD Dual Chip Announced

Could NEC save us from a messy format war?

Back in July Ricoh announced it had developed a laser which reads Blu-ray and HD DVD. That got us half way there and now NEC has come up with the second part of the puzzle.

It has just announced a dual format chip which is capable of powering the playback of both Blu-ray and HD DVD optical media. The theory is that this chip can then be used in players combined with a dual format laser (such as the Ricoh offering) and Bob is very much your favourite Uncle.

Refreshingly, for an IT release, this breakthrough is not a dot on the horizon either with NEC promising shipments of 300,000 chips per month to manufacturers by April next year. Even more encouraging is news that the chip will sell for just 10,000 yen (£45) which makes it no more expensive than the chips which currently drive only one format.

So even though unification talks between Sony and Toshiba stalled some time ago industry itself has clearly decided to take things into its own hands. In fact Warner even applied for a patient to a hybrid all-in-one DVD/HD DVD/Blu-ray disc recently too though its higher manufacturing cost would render it irrelevant if/when dual format players arrive.

These hybrids should start to emerge before the end of Q2 2007, which will tie in nicely with the conclusion of my 12 month vow of high definition abstinence. I can feel the tingles already.


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