Sony Develops Smaller, Cheaper Blu-ray Disc Laser Unit

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The new, improved laser unit (Source: Sony Corp.)New 3mm laser helps pave way for more compact, 9.5mm.

In the spirit of continuous improvement, Sony Corporation announced on Thursday a new design of the blue-violet laser unit that measures just 3mm thick. The laser unit is a crucial component of Blu-ray Disc drives and players.

Developed in part with Nichia Corporation, the new blue-violet laser is now small enough for practical integration of Blu-ray Disc playback and record functions into mobile applications, such as laptop computers and in-car entertainment systems. Sony said that its less-than 3mm thick laser unit will enable Blu-ray Disc drives measuring in 9.5mm thickness.

Besides improvement in packaging, the new laser unit also features more stable reading of dual-layer media and new reading capabilities, such as the ability to read organic media.

The shrink to a 3mm design also cuts down cost – a critical point in Blu-ray Disc hardware. Last year, Blu-ray Disc movie players hit sub-$300 levels. Analysts now believe that it costs Sony around $400 to manufacture each PlayStation 3, thanks in part to the falling costs of Blu-ray Disc drive hardware.

With the falling price of Blu-ray Disc assemblies and processor die-shrinks to 65nm, SCEI chief Kazuo Hirai expects the PlayStation division to be profitable starting next fiscal year.

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