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by Mike Zazaian October 10, 2006 - 10:45am, 1 Comment

NEC's Blu-ray and HD-DVD hybrid chip

Electronics manufacturer NEC has developed a chip for upcoming media players that allows playback of both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD formats.

While there are many discs in the works that will play on both Blu-ray and HD-DVD players, NEC’s hybrid chip represents the first effort to bring the two formats together within a single player. Although it’s completely senseless and expensive to perpetuate two different high-definition discs in the next generation of media, neither Sony nor Toshiba plan back down from their respective Blu-ray or HD-DVD standards. NEC’s hybrid chip, with its $84 price tag only slightly higher than that of a similar single-format chip, may help to bridge the gap between the two camps until cooler heads prevail and a single high-def standard emerges.

The other half of the fabled dual-format high-definition video player is an optical pick-up lens that can read both Blu-ray and HD-DVD formats. While nothing to this effect has been manufactured, Ricoh claims that it has such a product in the works and should begin to produce them by the end of 2006. The hybrid pick-up lens uses a 1mm thick diffraction plate with concentric grooves on each side. When a disc is inserted into the player, the media type, be it CD, DVD, HD-DVD or Blu-ray, is detected and the lens adjusts along the grooves to accommodate for the specific type of media.

NEC plans to begin production of the hybrid chips as early as April 2007, with notions of manufacturing over 300,000 chips per month. Such mass production should make for a significant price drop and broader usage of all high-definition players, hybrid or otherwise, within the next year. If Ricoh can’t keep up with NEC’s numbers, however, all those chips could well end up sitting in warehouses until there are enough lenses to pair them up with.

[via Reuters]