As Blu-Ray and HD-DVD march onwards, more than just hype and stories is going in with companies supporting one over the other. In response to Sanyo's efforts earlier in the year, Panasonic has developed an advanced, low-cost chipset for Blu-Ray that not only fully supports the technology, but also supports all existing technologies such as DVD-RAM, DVDRW, CDRW, et cetera. The only exception? Of course, HD-DVD. Having a single chipset on a PCB to support everything versus a conglomerate of chipsets (which has been done on many combo drives in the past) is a great cost-cutting measure that results in (usually) a better product. This is also a stepping stone for introduction of Blu-Ray into the market, as a drive could be used like any other until Blu-Ray came around.
"Once leading studios release content recorded on Blu-ray discs, the industry will need cost-effective components to build mass PC and CE optical drives supporting the new standard and those are the applications that the new chipset from Panasonic was developed for."
The chipset will work on both SATA and PATA interfaces, making it likely that we will see IDE Blu-Ray drives in the near future. The chip is set to begin sampling for vendors next month, and production in January. Now that both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray have wide media support for optical discs, and production is under way, we may see drives available... in just a few months.