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Toshiba's Triple HD-DVD Play

Toshiba introduced a higher-data-capacity version of its triple-layer HD DVD-ROM disc, which boasts 45GB, enough to record 12 hours of high-definition movies.

But is it enough to match the challenge posed by rival optical storage system, Blu-ray Disc (BD)?

The latest prototype from the Tokyo-based electronics maker holds 45GB -- less than Blu-ray Disc BD's 50GB storage capacity -- but it only requires three 15GB layers, according to the company. Blu-ray's disc needs two 25GB data-storage layers.

Toshiba is banking on the technology of its HD DVDs to be the future of high-definition DVDs. Blu-ray, which has the backing of major players like Sony , Samsung, Panasonic, HP < QUOTE NASDAQ:HPQ>, Dell and Philips, also expects its technology to be the standard bearer for the industry.

Toshiba's technology is favored by the big Hollywood studios in what is fast becoming a high-stakes battle over which of the two technologies will become the standard for all future DVD players.

Vamsi Sistla, director of broadband and consumer electronics at ABI Research , said the "standards battle" had appeared to be reaching a stalemate just a few months ago. However, with each side boasting powerful backers, it looks like neither was ready to blink in the growing format war.

"This raises the stakes," he said.

The new Toshiba disc also adds a "high-end option" to the previous HD DVD-ROM disc lineup, which includes the 15GB (single-layer, single-sided) and 30GB (dual-layer, single-sided) discs, according to the company.

Memory-Tech, Japan's largest independent disc replicate, says the new 45GB and hybrid discs can still be produced on its manufacturing lines and equipment, which are tailored to produce HD DVD discs. Minor investment and minimum additional production costs per disc will be necessary, according to the company.

"These new HD DVD discs will surely be welcomed by content holders, including Hollywood studios and game developers, as further broadening the scope of future applications," Shiroharu Kawasaki, president and CEO of Memory-Tech, said in a statement.

"We have already started verification for volume production of triple-layered discs, and we are confident of early verification as they are based on the 0.6mm disc structure and established production technologies. We at Memory-Tech are fully committed to flexibly meeting a variety of user requirements."

Toshiba also announced a deal today with Microsoft that creates a patent cross-licensing agreement enabling the two companies to use each other's patents freely in the computer and audiovisual equipment sectors.