In a press release today, Sony announced that they would be partnering with Panasonic to jointly develop an optical storage standard for professional (and likely consumer) use. The goal of this standard would be to increase the capacity of optical discs to a point that would make them beneficial for professionals recording in high definition and looking to distribute in high definition.
This standard aims to achieve capacities of up to 300GB per disc and looks to accomplish this task by the end of 2015, which is incredibly soon. Such a short timeframe means that both companies are fairly confident that they already have the technology portfolio of patents and already existing technologies to make this a reality relatively soon. As standards like HEVC and H.265 are being developed and standardized by the content developers and the rest of the IT industry, we will start to get an idea of how much capacity will in fact be needed for a full-length 4K movie.
Personally, I have a feeling that 4K will be to 8K as 720P was to 1080P. 4K will help us break many of the technological boundaries that exist for both 4K and 8K, but 8K will ultimately have the greater market share and longevity. With something like 4K and 8K, combined with 3D there is no doubt that a 50GB dual layer Blu Ray simply won’t cut it. And with ISPs not delivering enough bandwidth to most consumers to stream 4K content any time soon, another optical disc standard will be necessary for consumers. I suspect that we will see 100GB and 200GB discs that will enable 4K movies and 200GB and 300GB for 8K.
I foresee this work between Sony and Panasonic to be a forebearer for any kind of comsumer Ultra HD disc technology and will likely trickle down quickly. Considering that Sony was the company that developed Blu-Ray for the consumer and professional market in the 1080P market, it seems reasonable to think that Sony could once again be successful. Especially with no other companies announcing their intentions to do the same. It would be nice to see more of the industry working together, perhaps including a company like Toshiba, in order to prevent something like the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD wars which ultimately hurt both consumers and companies.