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Ultra HD Blu-ray Specification Completed

Accepted submission by takyon at 2015-05-13 23:09:49
Streaming hasn't completely killed the optical disc. The Blu-ray Disc Association has completed the Ultra HD Blu-ray specification [ ‭ (Warning: Unicode in URL)⁩ ]. New Ultra HD Blu-ray discs [] will support 3840×2160 "4K" resolution at up to 60 FPS using H.265/High Efficiency Video Coding []. It also supports the larger Rec. 2020 color gamut, which allows for colors of greater saturation [] to be reproduced. 10-bit per channel color depth is supported, increasing the number of possible colors to ~1.07 billion (10243) from ~16.8 million (2563).

The specification defines discs with capacities of 66 GB and 100 GB. This means that the 33 GB per layer, triple-layer technology of 100 GB BDXL discs [] will reach consumers.

Tom's Hardware notes []:

With a new spec also comes new Ultra HD Blu-ray players, which is a bit of a concern. Fortunately, these new players will have backwards compatibility with Blu-ray discs. However, those who have been using a traditional Blu-ray player for some time will just have to replace it with a model that plays Ultra HD Blu-ray, and those who use the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One for Blu-ray content are stuck unless they want to add another space-hogging box to the living room.

Licensing for Ultra HD Blu-ray begins this summer, but just like 4K content and TVs, it will take some time to see wide adoption. The TVs are already here, but the amount of content needs to increase in order for users to justify the cost of purchasing new 4K devices.


ExtremeTech describes an optional "digital bridge" feature [] (read: DRM) that attempts to allow greater flexibility in how users can view the content:

The new digital bridge feature is designed to give customers more flexibility in how they consume content. In 2015, simply having the content on a disc isn't good enough — not when people are used to watching Netflix on a tablet, then transferring to a different device and picking up where they left off. The digital bridge devices contemplated by the draft documents [] available online don't appear to be systems that consumers could build themselves. Instead, you'll buy a UHD Blu-ray player from Samsung or Sony that offers this feature as standard. It goes without saying that the platform is heavily locked down.

The entire process of validating a disc for digital bridging and any charges associated with accessing the content will be handled via remote servers; DRM functions will not reside inside the digital bridge export function (DBEF). Digital bridging is going to be standard on all UHD discs but isn't mandatory for Blu-rays (conventional Blu-ray discs can support it or not as they choose).

ExtremeTech is more optimistic about the prospect of current-gen consoles supporting Ultra HD Blu-ray:

The hardware itself isn't really the problem. Even the Xbox 360 and PS3 could likely handle H.265 decoding with proper software optimization, and the eight-core Jaguar CPUs in both modern consoles are robust enough to do the job []. The problem is the discs themselves. The multi-layer discs that UHD relies on likely aren't compatible with the Blu-ray players in either machine. Assuming that's true, it's the kind of feature both companies could add when they inevitably overhaul their platforms for a new process node and lower power consumption. It might even be possible to add H.265 decode support to the GPU hardware with AMD's help. Neither company has announced plans to roll out a new console variant as yet, but we'd be surprised if there weren't second-generation Xbox One's and PlayStations on store shelves by Christmas, 2016.

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