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Japanese engineers help China's homegrown hidef disc development

Former engineers from Toshiba and NEC, whose HD DVD format lost to Sony’s Blu-ray Disc format in the competition to develop the next-generation high-definition DVD in Japan, have been providing support to Shanghai United Optical Disc Co. in the development of homegrown China Blue High Definition.

The situation was brought to the forth by the Asahi Shimbun that examined whether Japanese companies should cooperate with growing Chinese companies in developing advanced technology or continue to battle their rivals and risk being shut out of China's huge market? At stake are international standards.

Hisashi Yamada (pictured), former Chief Technology Fellow at Toshiba's Digital Media Network, often referred to as the "father of DVD," has played a key role in China's plan. Shanghai United Optical Disc’s general manager is reported saying that his company would not have been able to accomplish these advances without the support of Japanese engineers.

In 1994, Yamada was involved in the development of the HD DVD disc and led Toshiba's efforts in that field. However, in February 2008, Toshiba announced it was withdrawing from the competition to determine the standard for the next-generation DVD disc.

In spring 2009, Yamada became top technology adviser to Memory-Tech, a disc manufacturing company that was established through capital from Mitsubishi and other entities. Memory-Tech created Shanghai United Optical Disc along with a Chinese state-run record company.

Yamada also joined an organization promoting the Chinese version of the next-generation optical disc - China Blue High Definition - heavily based on the HD DVD standard. CBHD was developed under the supervision of The Ministry of Industry & Information Technology (MIIT) and the Optical Memory National Engineering Research Center (OMNERC) at Tsinghua University, in cooperation with leading local Chinese CE manufacturers such as TCL, Shinco and TongFang, and local filmmakers and distributors such as China Record, China Film and Huayi Brothers.

Shanghai United Optical Disc completed the installation of its first CBHD disc production line in 2008 with volume production started at the end of that year. CAV Warner Home Entertainment, a joint venture between Warner Bros and China Audio Video, announced plans to release 100 CBHD titles in China.

"I feel responsibility for having encouraged China to employ the Toshiba standard, and because I am an engineer I also want to see something I developed out in the market as a product," Yamada is quoted by Asahi. "I felt I could continue to pursue my dream if I did it in China."

He was also not very concerned about criticism from within Japan that such efforts would lead to a technology drain from Japan. "Technology is always progressing," Yamada said. "There is no future if all you do is protect what you have."

Story filed 05.07.11

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