Memory-Tech is months away from mass production of read-only discs that can store data in both DVD and HD-DVD (high definition/high density-DVD) layers, according to a company executive.

The format, being developed to replace DVD for high-definition content, could help Hollywood studios in their transition to HD-DVD.

Last month, Paramount, Universal, Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema all said that they would release titles on the HD-DVD format. Universal pledged to have content available during the festive season in 2005.

The Memory-Tech discs contain two layers, an upper DVD layer with a capacity of 4.7GB and a lower HD-DVD layer holding 15GB, says Masato Otsuka, general manager of the company's engineering department.

Mass production will start in October or November 2005, which is about the same time as the company plans to produce read-only HD-DVDs. Memory-Tech has six lines that can each produce up to 700,000 of these discs per month.

The discs will help popularize the HD-DVD format for consumers, and encourage them to purchase HD-DVD players, according to Memory-Tech and Toshiba – a partner in the technology’s development.

Memory-Tech has already produced prototypes of the discs and tested them in about 200 DVD players, including dedicated DVD recorders and PC drives. But Otsuka expects it to take up to six months for the disc’s specifications to be completed.

Memory-Tech and Toshiba are to meet the DVD Forum, the group in charge of DVD and HD-DVD specifications, before the end of 2004 to start discussions on getting the disc's specs settled. Otsuka says that, because the specifications for HD-DVD are to be completed by the end of February 2005, this should not be too difficult.

"We don't see any technical or political problems," he says.

Toshiba, NEC and Sanyo Electric – companies which are also backing HD-DVD – all plan to have hardware on shelves at the end of 2005.