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PlayStation 3 to feature Blu-Ray disc

New playback-only Blu-Ray technology to feature in Sony's next console.

Sony has revealed that its next-generation games console will use the Blu-Ray disc format, which is an evolution of the current DVD system that is designed to hold five times as much data on a similarly sized disc.

A meeting in Tokyo this week saw the creation of a working group to draw up final specifications of a read-only Blu-Ray system, including representatives from many of the world's largest electronics companies such as Sony, Dell and Matsushita (Panasonic).

Until now, Blu-Ray discs, which are similar to standard DVDs but use more accurate blue laser light rather than the normal red laser light to read and write data, have been both readable and writeable.

Sony officials confirmed that the next iteration of the PlayStation home console will be equipped with a Blu-Ray disc drive, allowing it to play back high definition movies (as movies are gradually expected to move from DVD to Blu-Ray in the coming years) as well as providing more space for game developers on the discs.

Single-layer Blu-Ray discs can store up to 27Gb on one layer of data, compared to 4.7Gb on DVDs, although the version of the standard favoured by Sony holds only 23Gb - still around five times larger than existing DVD discs. The Blu-Ray specification also allows for reading existing DVD discs, so the PS3 will almost certainly still be able to handle standard DVD movies and PS2 titles.

Video playback units based on the new read-only standard are expected to appear by the end of the current fiscal year, which runs through to March 2005 - the same timescale in which Sony plans to unveil the PlayStation 3 in public for the first time.