Ray Freeman, OSTA Facilitator

Mike Manuel / George Millington,
Walt & Company Communications


SANTA BARBARA, Calif., October 13, 1997 – The emergence of CD-ReWritable (CD-RW) technology is expected to significantly boost demand for recordable optical devices. Thanks in part to industry-wide agreements fostered within the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA) regarding compatibility of existing (CD) and future (DVD) products, users are expected to embrace this robust new technology in force. From 1996 to the year 2000, the installed base of all types of recordable optical devices is expected to grow from 12 million to over 35 million and the consumption of media from 80 million to 500 million. The following information has been extracted from a recently revised OSTA publication entitled "CD-R & CD-RW Questions & Answers" and is intended to help the novice understand the benefits of this fast-growing new technology.

The full question and answer document is available for viewing and downloading via the OSTA web site (www.osta.org). Printed booklets are available upon request.

1. What is "CD-ReWritable"?

CD-RW is the most recent addition to the compact disc family. Earlier dubbed

"CD-Erasable," the name CD-ReWritable was selected in bringing the product class to market. As the name implies, CD-RW is a media and recording system that allows the user to erase previously recorded information and then to record new information in its place, making short-term storage feasible on CD media. This is accomplished by means of a new CD-RW media using "phase change" technology that allows a recording laser beam to change the media material from amorphic to crystalline by means of a shift in power. The new CD-RW drives include all the functionality of previous CD-R drives, allowing them to create write-once CD-R discs as well as rewritable CD-RW discs.

2. Does CD-RW obsolete CD-R?

No. While this new addition to the CD family allows it to serve numerous applications where erasing old information is important, it will continue to generate CD-R discs for information that must not be altered. The user now has a choice of media to use for archiving and distribution applications versus backup and re-recording applications. The lower media cost of CDR will ensure continued use of this established technology.

3. Will future DVD readers play today's CD-ROMs, CD-R and CD-RW discs?

Newer DVD-ROM drives incorporate a dual wavelength optical head to maintain read compatibility with previously recorded CD-R and CD-RW discs. Compliance with the MultiRead specification, discussed below, and use of dual-head optics overcome concerns regarding readability of current CD-R and CD-RW media in future DVD-ROM drives.

4. What is the Orange Book, part III?

The OB III defines CD-RW media in terms of physical characteristics and in terms of recording and reading characteristics. Laser write strategies are defined, allowing CD-RW drive manufacturers to produce drives that can read this new CD media.

5. What is the "MultiRead" specification?

This OSTA specification recognizes the importance of having future CD-ROM readers capable of reading a wide variety of CD-based media. MultiRead CD-ROM drives, for instance, will be able to read newer CD-RW media as well as CD-R and CD-ROM. This same concept will be applied to future generation DVD readers so that they too can read today's audio CD, CD-ROM, CD-R and CD-RW discs. MultiRead CD-ROM devices will not be able to read DVD-ROM or DVD-RAM discs, however.

6. How many rewrites are possible using CD-ReWritable technology?

The amount of times a user can write to a CD-RW disc is dependent on the manufacture of the media. At present, some CD-RW disc manufacturers specify their media for 1,000 rewrites, while others are expected to rate their media at 10,000 rewrites. Future media is expected to be capable of even greater numbers of rewrites. For that reason, users are encouraged to check the labeling on their CD-RW media.

OSTA Background

The Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA) was incorporated as an international trade association in 1992 to promote the use of writable optical technologies and products for storage of computer data. OSTA works to shape the future of the industry by making optical storage easier to install and use, increasing market awareness and understanding, enabling advances that meet customer needs and defining common implementations of standards. The organization's membership includes optical product manufacturers and resellers from three continents, representing more than 80 percent of worldwide writable optical product shipments. OSTA specifications are agreed to through the work of CD-writable, file interchange, magneto-optical, market development, and planning committees. Interested companies worldwide are invited to join the organization and participate in its programs by contacting an OSTA representative at 805/963-3853 or by addressing its Web site at http://www.osta.org.

# # #