Ray Freeman, OSTA Facilitator

Mike Manuel / George Millington,
Walt & Company Communications


Santa Barbara, Calif., August 25, 1997 - MultiRead, the new optical storage hardware specification adopted by the Optical StorageTechnology Association (OSTA), ensures that investments by both corporate and consumer buyers of Audio Compact Disc, Compact Disc-ReWritable (CD-RW), Compact Disc-Recordable (CD-R) and DVD media will be protected in the future, in spite of present uncertainty over future optical device standards. Important questions regarding the new specification have been answered in a "MultiRead Q&A" document attached to this press release and accessible on the OSTA Web site (www.osta.org).

The Questions and Answers document addresses issues such as consumer benefits of the new specification, market timing of MultiRead drives, the MultiRead logo program and more. The MultiRead specification itself is also available on the OSTA Web site for viewing or downloading.

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.

OSTA MultiRead Q&A

1) What is MultiRead?

The MultiRead specification defines the requirements that must be met in order for a drive to play or read all four principal types of CD discs: CD-Digital Audio (CD-DA), CD-ROM, CD-Recordable (CD-R), and CD-ReWritable (CD-RW).

2) What does MultiRead specify?

Key technical issues addressed in the specification include the following:

--Automatic Gain Control (AGC) is specified to accommodate the lower reflectivity of CD-RW discs.

--A range of laser wavelengths must be accommodated, assuring access to CD-R discs.

--Firmware support for packet writing (both fixed and variable) must be provided to assure readability of both CD-R and CD-RW discs.

3) Is MultiRead a standard or specification?

MultiRead is a specification. OSTA created an industry consensus to endorse the MultiRead specification before products were produced, ensuring compatible choices for the end user. Standards are generally issued after the fact by accredited standards bodies.

4) Who will benefit from MultiRead, and how will they benefit?

End users and manufacturers both will benefit from the specification. The end users' drives will have the ability to read all types of CD media - Audio CD, CD-ROM, CD-R and CD-RW -- rather than one or two types of CD media. The manufacturers will benefit by enjoying a larger market opportunity for compatible products.

5) What is OSTA and what was OSTA's role in developing MultiRead?

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. The organization represents more than 80% of worldwide writable optical product shipments.

OSTA's role in developing MultiRead was to complete the specification through its technical forum and to ensure industry-wide consensus and compatibility. It will now maintain the specification, evolving it as necessary as new product classes come to market.

6) Who did the initial work on MultiRead?

The MultiRead specification was conceived, drafted and proposed by Hewlett-Packard and Philips. OSTA then took over, providing a forum for technical discussion, broadening the specification and ensuring industry-wide acceptance.

7) When will MultiRead versions of CD-ROM drives become available?

Several manufacturers of CD-ROM drives have committed to make MultiRead models available this year.

8) Isn't MultiRead already in use on CD-R and CD-RW devices?

Currently, very few CD-R devices have the ability to read all four types of CD media. All CD-RW devices have this capability. MultiRead versions of CD-R drives will come to market later this year.

9) My current DVD drive already reads CD-ROMs. How will MultiRead make a difference?

MultiRead will ensure that all forms of CD media can read, including CD-R and CD-RW.

10) Is MultiRead limited to CD and DVD devices?

No. It can also be applied to other technologies, such as magneto-optical.

11) How specifically does MultiRead change the way CD information is written?

MultiRead does not change how CD discs are written. It is a drive specification, not a media specification.

12) What does MultiRead boil down to?

Users will be able to choose drives that can read all types of CD media.

13) If you could say only one thing about MultiRead, what would it be?

MultiRead is a great victory for the end user.

14) Your press release says OSTA "ratified" MultiRead. Who voted on it, and what were some issues that had to be overcome in order to come to agreement?

The MultiRead specification was approved by a unanimous vote of the OSTA technical subcommittee to which it was assigned. The ratification process was completed through a review by the OSTA Board of Directors, resulting in unanimous agreement of adoption by the 15 voting members of OSTA present. One of the major issues addressed was assuring CD-R readability on DVD-ROM drives. Assuring this compatibility was a major contribution of OSTA.

15) What is the MultiRead logo program about?

--Who will administer the program? Hewlett-Packard will administer the program.

--What will it take to get a logo on a product?

Companies wanting to display the MultiRead logo on their drives will (a) submit an application to Hewlett-Packard; (b) self-test their drives using a test plan included with the application and published on both HP and OSTA web sites; and (c) submit a test report to HP together with a nominal license fee of less than $1,000.

--Will OSTA receive money from the logo program? No.

--Will the logo program be expanded to other devices in the future?

The logo program will apply to any device that complies with the specification.

16) Will current DVD drives be compatible with CD media?

Early DVD-ROM drives will not be compatible with all forms of CD discs. Subsequent MultiRead models will provide this capability.

17) What are some other things OSTA is working on right now?

OSTA is continuing work on a major CD-R media compatibility study. It is also finalizing Revision 2.0 of its Universal Data Format (UDF) specification to include, among other things, full Windows NT support. The organization will continue to update its optical drive migration paths as appropriate. Also, OSTA will continue to promote compatibility across all optical media and drive platforms. Finally, OSTA will continue to position itself as a key source of information on optical technology.

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