Blu-ray goes beyond movie distribution with new format

The latest Blu-ray format, called BDXL, will focus on data backup

The Blu-ray Disc Association is stepping away from movie distribution with the latest Blu-ray format, instead focusing on data backup and recording of high-definition broadcast content, the association said on Wednesday.

The Blu-ray standards-setting organization late last week released the latest Blu-ray disc format called BDXL, in which media will offer storage capacity of up to 128GB. The new format uses more storage layers in discs to extend storage capacity, said Andy Parsons, U.S. Promotions Committee chairperson for the Blu-ray Disc Association.

The new format doubles the storage capacity of existing Blu-ray discs, which offer up to 50GB of storage. With BDXL specifications, discs will be offered in rewritable format with up to 100GB of storage, and as write-once discs with 128GB of storage.

The new format is designed to meet the needs of specific enterprise and entertainment markets, said Parsons, who is also the senior vice president of product planning at the Pioneer Home Entertainment Group. BDXL recorders will be used in set-top boxes to record broadcast TV, Parsons said. The new format will also be used in enterprises to archive sensitive data, video and images.

Millions of Blu-ray players have already been sold, and content providers want to distribute media that reaches the largest possible audience, Parsons said. The new format is not compatible with existing Blu-ray devices and will require new hardware, Parsons said.

Moreover, once a publishing format is established, it rarely changes, Parsons said. That was the case with the DVD format as well.

The existing storage capacity of 50GB in existing Blu-ray discs is also enough to fit most high-definition movies, he said. That capacity will also be enough to fit 3D movies based on the Blu-ray 3D format, he said. There is a bigger need for higher-capacity disks to back up data, Parsons said. Hard drives can fail, and BDXL discs can preserve data for decades.

The BDXL format will be backward compatible and could also lead to the development of drives for laptops. Parsons couldn't provide a time frame on when BDXL hardware would be released.

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