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China unveils 'home grown' hi-def disc format

Last Friday, the Chinese government officially unveiled its 'home grown' high definition optical disc format dubbed China High Definition DVD (CH-DVD) at a ceremony at Beijing where some 150 guests from government, industry and research institutions convened under the China High Definition DVD Association (CHDA).

The Chinese have been working on the system for the past three years with the collaboration of the DVD Forum. The physical format of CH-DVD was approved by the DVD Forum on 28 February of this year. The application format should be completed by the end of this year.

The new format was developed by the Optical Memory National Engineering Research Centre, an optical disc lab at Tsinghua University, in collaboration with the DVD Forum, developers of the HD DVD format. The physical format of CH-DVD is based on HD DVD and will have similar storage specifications. But the new format includes Chinese-owned intellectual propertyrelated to advanced copy protection technology.

The Chinese strategy has been to find ways to avoid paying the 'extortionate' royalties for MPEG-2 developed by foreign concerns. The patent policy behind MPEG-4 was deemed too hash as well, according to the group. The home-grown AVS coding technology is on a par with AVC "with less complex, thus cheaper, chips," says the group.

A source close to the DVD Forum and involved with Chinese development, told DVD Intelligence that "CH-DVD it is essentially the HD DVD format with minor adjustments that enables the Chinese government to claim it as its own."

The original 'true' home-grown HD format – EVD – floundered and the government was determined to have a format and associated hardware and software in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. "There was no way they could have met this politically-sensitive deadline starting from scratch," the source continues.

The CH-DVD players will be close enough to being HD DVD players that, if manufacturers wanted to go ahead and call them so, they could conditional on paying a license fee. CH-DVD devices will not play HD DVD discs.

Story filed 10.11.07

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