DVD - a new technology finally comes age!
This new multi-faceted disc is
a technological leap for both consumers and PC users
One of the most remarkable innovations
in the audio and video industry has finally arrived - Digital
Video Disc (DVD). What's so special about DVD is its versatility!
Indeed, to some DVD is short for Digital Versatile Disk. It represents
studio-quality video and audio for consumers as well as awesome
data storage capacity for PC users in one technology.
At Toshiba, we think that DVD is in
many ways a technology that has finally come of age. After much
talk and speculation since the DVD consortium agreed to the standards
in September 1995, products are now available for consumers and
PC users. And DVD is the standard to bridge the gap between consumer
electronic products and PC electronics.
DVD - what's it all about?
The idea behind DVD is simple enough
and not that revolutionary - the digitalisation of video information
on the appropriate distribution medium. DVD is a new media for
the distribution of digital data.
A DVD disc looks like today's CD:
it is a silvery platter, 12 cm in diameter, with a hole in the
centre. Like a CD, data is recorded on the disc in a spiral trail
of tiny pits, and the discs are read using a laser beam. Here
is where the similarities essentially stop.
Comprised of two 0.6 mm thick discs
bonded together, a DVD disc has a much larger capacity than a
normal audio CD. It can store anywhere from 4.7 to 17 GB of data,
your normal audio CD only 680 MB. DVD's larger capacity is achieved
by making the pits smaller and the spiral tighter, and by recording
the data in as many as four layers, two on each side of the disc.
Movies on a disk
In its simplest version, a DVD disk
with a capacity of 4.7 billion bytes can hold up to 133 minutes
of studio-quality video. In addition, audiophiles are well served
with the equally impressive sound quality, in the form of 5.1
channel surround sound supported by MPEG 2 audio and Dolby AC3TM.
Moreover, consumers can choose from up to eight different dubbed
language tracks and 32 subtitled language tracks. All of this
can be viewed in a choice of format: full screen, letter box or
wide screen monitors, with a selection of extra features such
as interactivity, parental control and multiple camera angles.
DVD Video, as the consumer product
containing video has been dubbed, will ultimately provide consumers
with high quality home entertainment - video and audio - on reasonably
priced DVD players. Some experts even predict that DVD will be
to VHS tape what audio CD was to the long-playing record. Since
all DVD players can also play conventional audio CDs, the CD-player
is also under threat. Consumers can ultimately make do with one
DVD players - pioneers of a new
era of home entertainment
At Toshiba, years of pioneering efforts
in DVD technology have culminated in the market introduction of
two Toshiba DVD players - the high-performance Model SD-2006 and
the state-of-the-art Model SD-3006. These systems are currently
available in the US and scheduled for launch in Europe during
But there is another group of high-tech
aficionados, namely PC users, that is keenly awaiting the advent
of DVD. For PC users, DVD-ROM, as it will be known to the PC world,
promises to herald a new era of multimedia.
All that capacity - all those applications
DVD-ROM will expand the capabilities
of today's PC enormously. On a purely physical level, it will
allow for the storage of enormous amounts of data - whether in
video or audio form. With capacities up to 17 GB - that's the
equivalent of 26 normal CD-ROMs - it is only a question of time
before users of interactive CD-ROMs see exciting DVD-ROMs.
Think of the advantages. 30 (NTSC)
or 25 (PAL) frames per second full-screen video resolution depending
on national standards, digital Surround Sound, virtual reality
and high-resolution graphics with text and video support. For
applications, the range of possibilities is great: exciting new
games with exceptional video quality, edutainment products, software
libraries, training programs, digitised photo collections and,
of course, high-quality interactive encyclopaedias.
Genuine multimedia - cross-platform
But beyond using DVD-ROM as a more
expansive mode of data storage - something that many predict will
be its first, great area of application, DVD is the realisation
of genuine multimedia. By genuine multimedia, we mean that PC
users will finally have easy and reliable access to a variety
of media, whether audio, video or PC-oriented. In a nutshell,
it will be possible to use a PC for cross-platform applications.
Given DVD's standardised video and
audio requirements, PCs will become multi-functional devices:
part television tuner, video playback device and exciting multimedia
game station. In other words, DVD-ROM will play DVD movies and
videos. All that is necessary is the corresponding DVD-ROM drive
and hardware to decode the MPEG-2 video and audio signals.
MMX and DVD - a multimedia marriage?
In combination with PCs equipped with
Intel's latest processors featuring MMXTM technology,
DVD will also provide affordable access to a new and expansive
world of multimedia applications. Intel's MMXTM technology
is designed to accelerate multimedia and communications applications.
It includes new instructions and data types that allow applications
to achieve a new level of performance. By marrying capacity with
the latest processor technology, PC users can turn their PCs into
multimedia entertainment devices.
Driving the future
At the moment, many companies are
working on option packages consisting of DVD-ROM drives and the
necessary expansion cards. In January 1997, Toshiba began selling
the SD-M1002, a DVD-ROM drive that fully conforms to the DVD-ROM
format. This internal drive is connected to a PC via the ATAPI
interface. The dual lens pick-up can read both CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs
and delivers fast access times of 200 milliseconds and a random
seek time of only 130 ms for DVD.
Since CD technology is very well established
in the PC world - the industry estimates that there are over 100
million CD-ROM drives already installed - backward compatibility
is a key issue. Those PC-users with a wide selection of CD-ROM
titles therefore need not worry because new DVD-ROM drives will
be able to play old CD-ROMs. When the DVD-ROM drive checks the
inserted disc, it automatically selects the appropriate lens needed
for reading CD-ROMs or DVD-ROMs.
The recordable DVD-ROM is also a topic
for many PC users. There are two DVD-recordable solutions: DVD-R
(one-time recordable) and DVD-RAM (re-recordable), with planned
capacities of 3.9 GB and 2.6 GB respectively. However, PC users
and consumers should not throw their drives and video recorders
away just yet. PC drives which can record are not expected until
1999 and, like CD-ROM burners at the beginning, they may be quite
expensive at first. For consumer usage it could well be 2000 before
a widely affordable DVD recorder becomes available.
Convergence of two worlds
For Toshiba, DVD is helping to bring
the PC closer to the consumer. It also signals an exciting change.
DVD technology is the first true technological bridge between
the consumer electronics sector and the PC electronic sector.
It provides consumers with the same quality of digital audio and
video that production studios have been enjoying for years - at
an affordable price.
Finally, DVD is also the first standard
specifically created with both PC users and consumers in mind.
It brings exciting technologies out of the computer world and
combines them with the consumer's entertainment demands. This
melting of the two worlds of electronics is the true legacy of
the DVD revolution. Whereas previous attempts to bridge consumer
and computer worlds have required adapting an existing standard,
e.g. CD-ROM or DAT tapes, with the attendant limitations, DVD
is a child of equal parentage. As the child comes of age with
a full range of products in 1997, Toshiba is proud of its new
What was Toshiba's Contribution to DVD?
From the original concept to this
year's product launch Toshiba has been at the centre of DVD developments.
Toshiba led both the original DVD alliance (known as SD Disk)
and the efforts that resulted in a single, multi-industry-spanning,
unified DVD. And Toshiba remains a leader of the present DVD alliance.
Proof of Toshiba's commitment lies
in the fact that 80% of DVD patents are held by Toshiba, including
key DVD technologies such as the bonded disc design, chips designs
for sound and video decoding, as well as embedded playback control.
Moreover, Toshiba's early recognition that Hollywood's film studios
had to support DVD ensured that unique features that allow for
parental control, multi-camera angles, and multiple story lines,
were also integrated into the DVD standard.
The advanced RSPC error correction
system that Toshiba developed for DVD is 6 times more robust than
current CD technology. And Toshiba is a primary developer of the
phase-change disc, a key technology for future re-writable DVD
From a manufacturing perspective,
Toshiba was the first to develop a commercial real time MPEG-2
decoder. Toshiba manufactures 650nm laser diodes, critical for
reading the finer data tracks of a DVD discs, and Toshiba is a
key industry supplier of disc drives and IC memory buffers.
Toshiba also manufacturers DVD discs
at Toshiba-EMI. And Toshiba was the first company to deliver a
real-time MPEG-2 encoder to Hollywood. Most recently, Toshiba
announced an alliance with Sonic Solutions to provide DVD authoring
and encoding equipment to DVD authoring centres world-wide. All
of these investments underline Toshiba's commitment to this revolutionary
product for both consumer and computer industries. Toshiba is
certain that in DVD we have a set standard for the 21st