The Blu-ray Disc Association has released a high-capacity format that more than doubles the amount of storage from the previous generation of discs.
Called BDXL, the specification enables up to 128 GB of storage on write-once Blu-ray discs and 100 GB on rewritable discs.
The latest format is aimed initially at creative professionals and the broadcasting and medical industries, which are in need of more capacity for archiving large amounts of data, video, and graphic images. The association said discs should be available in the market in the next few months.
"Professional industries have expressed a desire to find optical disc solutions that enable them to transition away from magnetic media for their archiving needs," Victor Matsuda, global promotions committee chair of the Blu-ray Disc Association, said in a statement released over the weekend.
A consumer version of BDXL will be available later, particularly in areas where sales of Blu-ray recorders are high, the association said.
BDXL achieves the higher capacities by enabling as many as four recordable layers on a disc. Current Blu-ray discs have a maximum of two layers.
However, the higher number of layers require a more powerful laser, so the new format is not backward compatible with current hardware used to record data or play today's Blu-ray movies. As a result, adoption of the new technology will likely be slow, until manufacturers start releasing new hardware that can play and record the old and the new formats.
Blu-ray was initially introduced to provide people and movie studios with a storage medium for high-definition content. Today, HD content is available through cable and satellite TV feeds and through downloads over the Internet from movie rental companies, such as Netflix.
The next big transition in entertainment is expected to be the move to 3D by consumer electronics makers and providers of TV programming and movies. Higher-capacity Blu-ray discs is expected to be a key storage medium for such content.
Blu-ray and its ability to hold high-definition content has been credited with offsetting the slump in traditional DVD sales. According to Home Media Magazine. packaged media revenue for video dropped only 1.6% through most of 2009, primarily due to BD sales, which rose 137% over the course of the year, helping offset DVD's 7.54% decline.