By Zachary Shess
Last month, members of the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA) ratified an updated MultiRead specification, extending guidelines for compatibility between drives and media for CD, DVD-ROM and DVD-RAM formats.
According to OSTA facilitator Ray Freeman, the original MultiRead specification helped eliminate buyer hesitation in purchasing new CD drive technologies. He credits MultiRead in part for enabling the recent success of CD-RW and CD-R because it opened up new capabilities while providing compatibility with CD-ROM's large installed base.
The new MultiRead 2 specification succeeds the original spec set in October, 1997. While incorporating the earlier spec's parameters, MultiRead 2 specifically addresses migration to DVD, and sets guidelines for manufacturers to create drives that can read and write to rewritable 2.6GB DVD media. Earlier drafts of MultiRead 2 included compliance parameters for the 3GB DVD+RW format led by Hewlett-Packard and Sony. However, when those vendors decided to hold off product development until 4.7GB capacities would be marketable, OSTA scaled back MultiRead 2 to address just DVD-ROM and DVD-RAM.
"Even though MultiRead 2 ended up having fewer ingredients than we had anticipated, that's just the reality of the market at this time," says Freeman. "There is a set of products less than 4.7GB, and we felt we should deal with those rather than ignore them."
When the 4.7GB products come to market toward the end of this year, Freeman expects a new MultiRead spec to be introduced, incorporating DVD-RAM, DVD+RW and DVD-R formats.
For more information or to download the MultiRead 2 spec., visit www.osta.org.