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News in Brief

MAXELL plans to ship its first holographic storage system late next year based on 300GB holographic versatile disc media with a data transfer rate of 20MBps. Maxell plans to ship its first holographic storage system late next year based on 300GB holographic versatile disc (HVD) media with a data transfer rate of 20MBps, according to media reports. However, Maxell says the technology designed by InPhase Technologies is capable of achieving 1.6TB per disk with a 120MBps bandwidth. Holographic storage systems encode data as a 3D pattern written and read by laser beam.

PRODUCTION costs for HDD DVD recorders remain high and are unlikely to drop due to few back-end LSI ICs and no locally-produced HDDs for leading Taiwanese makers. In a typical 160GB HDD DVD recorder, the HDD components and LSI ICs account for 30% and 10%, respectively, of the production price while loaders and pick-up heads take up another 20%, sources pointed out. There currently are no makers of HDDs in Taiwan and local IC design houses are still endeavouring to reach sufficient supply for the needed LSI ICs. Although incapable of controlling the cost of some key components, Taiwanese makers are still strongly competitive in integrating the components into a final product,, the sources indicated.

LITE-ON IT has reportedly obtained OEM orders for half-height (H/H) DVD burners from NEC through its strategic-alliance partner Sony, according to industry sources. If true, Lite-On IT stands a good chance of replacing Hitachi-LG Data Storage (HLDS) to become the largest global maker of H/H DVD burners next year. Taiwan Securities Investment Advisory, quoting a forecast by Japan-based Techno Systems Research (TSR), indicated that HLDS will ship 19.72 million H/H DVD burners this year, followed by NEC with 10.87 million, and Lite-On IT with 10.45 million units. If NEC releases all of its OEM orders to Lite-On IT, the latter would have a larger shipment volume than HLDS.

GERMAN optical disc manufacturer CDA, which recently concluded an expansion programme, is, according
to managing director Dr. Nicolaus Hettler, perfectly positioned for the manufacture of Blu-ray and HD DVD discs. "I can add," he says, "that we have installed additional DVD capacity (DVD 9 and DVD 5) of approx 30.000 pcs/d."

ENDING weeks of speculation about which upcoming video game platform will give gamers the most bang for their buck, today at The German Games Convention, Microsoft Corp. revealed that consumers can get their hands on Xbox 360 – the most powerful and feature-packed next-generation video game and entertainment system – for $299.99/€299.99/£209.99 starting this holiday season.

THOMSON's Services division has reached digital cinema usage agreements with DreamWorks, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. to accelerate the deployment of digital cinema systems in North America. Under the agreements, each studio has agreed to distribute content digitally throughout the United States and Canada, and pay a virtual print fee for screens equipped with Technicolor Digital Cinema systems, beginning in the first quarter of 2006. Studio support covers an initial rollout of complete digital projection systems in up to 5,000 screens over the next 3-4 years and at least 15,000 screens in the United States and Canada over the next 10 years.

TAIWANESE manufacturer Ritek expects rapid growth in the global demand for DVD+R/-R DL (single-sided double-layer) discs, according to deputy general manager Eric Chang for the company’s Global Strategy Marketing Business Unit. Along with continued drops in prices of DVD+R/-R DL burners and discs, the global demand for DVD+R/-R discs will grow from an estimated 40-50 million discs for this year to 180-300 million in 2006, Chang indicated. Ritek will expand its monthly production capacity of DVD+R/-R DL discs from about 3.5 million discs at present to 5.0 million at the end of this year.

MPEG LA, the one-stop technology standards patent licensing, has issued a call for patents and patent applications that are essential to the Blu-ray Standard. MPEG LA is bringing together patent holders at the advent of this new technology in order to begin evaluating and determining patents that are essential to the standard in order to include them in a joint patent portfolio license providing users with fair, reasonable, nondiscriminatory access to the technology as an alternative to negotiating separate licenses.

M2 ENGINEERING AB,Swedish equipment manufacturer of optical disc production systems and equipment, says it see an upturn in the market for pre-recorded replication and mastering equipment. M2 is a leading worldwide manufacturer. Company says it has received a "significant increase" in the orders in the past two months and the forecast is "optimistic" for the remainder of 2005.

MAKERS of DVD set-top boxes, in light of market saturation for entry-level DVD players and a much smaller than originally expected demand for DVD recorders, are trying to create a new market niche by offering DVD players equipped with additional functions like MPEG4-support, karaoke, and hard disk drives (HDDs), according to industry sources. The OEM price level of entry-level DVD players currently is below US$35, but DVD players with additional functions are relatively profitable, the sources pointed out. In addition, function-added models cater to a different market segment than that of cheap DVD players imported from China, the sources noted.

BALDA, the German maker of machines that coat CDs and DVDs agreed to pay 2 million euros ($2.4 million) for a production facility in the eastern German town of Zittau that coats plastic components for the telecommunications and car industries.

STEAG Hamatech, the German maker of machines used to manufacture DVDs took a one-time tax-related charge of 11.6 million euros in the third quarter because of "weaker than expected" business, the company said in a statement after market close on Oct. 28. After-tax profit for the period probably fell by that amount, Steag Hamatech said.