Toshiba and Memory-Tech have developed a three-layer optical disc that can be read by both DVD and HD DVD players.
The disc, which could be on the market early next year, will make it possible for movie companies to package both a standard definition and high-definition version of the same movie on a single disc. That would mean consumers wouldn't have to repurchase the same movies when or if they make the jump from DVD to HD DVD.
The two companies previously developed a two-layer optical disc that can store both DVD and HD DVD, and commercial content on such discs is already on sale in Japan. The addition of a third layer means more standard or high-definition content can be recorded on the disc.
Each layer is capable of storing about two hours of standard and four hours of high-definition content, the latter assuming the MPEG4 AVC compression is used. That means about four hours of SD and HD content can be stored if two layers are used for DVD and one layer for HD DVD.
Before the disc can be commercialised it must be approved by the DVD Forum as an accepted standard. Toshiba will submit the required paperwork soon and hopes to get approval before the end of the year, said Yuko Sugahara, a spokeswoman for Toshiba in Tokyo. If it succeeds then the disc could be offered commercially sometime early next year, she said.