Sony and Panasonic have announced they’ll work together on a successor to the Blu-Ray format. At the moment it appears they’ll be concentrating on data storage rather than video playback.
The two firms have set a target of 2015 to produce an optical disc which can store up to 300GB, around six times the capacity of a Blu-Ray. They have already separately been working on systems that use discs derived from Blu-Ray for professional data storage, both for tech firms and from broadcasters looking to archive content.
Sony has a system that holds 12 single-layer Blu-Rays in a single cartridge, for a total of 300GB. Panasonic uses a similar system (pictured) with discs using the advanced BDXL format that can hold 100GB on a disc, but isn’t compatible with standard Blu-Ray machines.
In both cases, the firms are targeting firms that need to store a large amount of data in a space-efficient format and will only need occasional access, meaning they can put up with a little inconvenience.
The announcement of the combined effort doesn’t make any mention of using the new discs for media playback. However, as The Register notes, increasingly higher resolution formats will require new media formats if they catch on. A demonstration film for the 4K format (now available in televisions on general sale) runs for just 52 minutes but takes up 160GB, more than any existing Blu-Ray format disc.
A 300GB format also raises the possibility of, unlike what happened with the DVD to Blu-Ray switch, putting the emphasis on storing more content rather than increasing resolution. For example, it could be possible to sell an entire season of a TV show on a single disc rather than as a boxset. That wouldn’t necessarily bring retail prices down by much, but could save on store shelf space or delivery costs.
The downside, in both data storage and video content, is that increasingly higher capacities simply means the potential losses from a disc failing become more severe.