The Active Network

OSTA Group Aims For DVD-ROM Specification

The Optical Storage Technology Association disrupted the battle between DVD-RAM and DVD RW today when it reported plans to develop specifications for a DVD-ROM drive that reads both formats. Wayne Freeman, OSTA's facilitator, said a committee will meet later this week to develop the specification, expected to be completed by the end of 1999. The specification will allow manufacturers to produce DVD-ROM drives that can read media produced by either DVD-RAM or DVD RW drives in much the same manner as multi-read CD-ROM drives can read discs made by CD-R and CD-RW drives, he said.

"The directors of the DVD Forum tried to get an agreement on one way to do a rewritable-DVD format and failed. So OSTA decided to simply accept the fact that there will be two formats," Freeman said. DVD-RAM is backed by Toshiba, Matsushita, Hitachi and the DVD Forum, while DVD RW is favored by Sony, Hewlett-Packard and Philips. While all the companies belong to the DVD Forum, which helped iron out the problems in launching DVD movies, a split occurred when the vendors could not decide which rewritable format should become the industry standard. The two sides have been at an impasse since the rift occurred in April 1997.

The compatibility issue has kept all but a token number of rewritable-DVD products out of the market, and, Freeman said, hampered the DVD-ROM market, as well. Because the DVD Forum was unable to broker an agreement on a common format, OSTA chose to develop a specification instead. Freeman does not know what technological challenges must be met to create the specification, but he was confident the issue would be settled and product would be developed and shipped my mid-2000. The OSTA specification will allow DVD-ROM discs created by DVD-R, DVD-RW, and other rewritable formats being developed, to be read by DVD-ROM drives, Freeman said.

Representatives from the DVD RW and DVD-RAM camps were not available for comment.


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