The new BDXL format increases the data that can fit onto a single Blu-ray disc to 128GB - but will require new hardware.
The organisation behind the Blu-ray standard has announced an extension to the spec, which promises discs holding a massive 128GB in the none-too-distant future.
The new specification, BDXL, increases the capacity from the current 50GB to either 100GB for re-writable Blu-ray media or 128GB for write-once discs.
Aimed at providing industrial-strength data storage for archiving and backup purposes, it'll be a while before the increased capacity hits the consumer level - and there's some bad news on the horizon when it does, as use of the BDXL discs will require entirely new hardware.
While the Blu-ray Disc Association has promised that hardware designed for BDXL use will be backwards-compatible with existing Blu-ray media, there's no forwards compatibility - in other words, if you've already invested in a Blu-ray writer for your data storage needs you're going to need to buy entirely new equipment if you want the enhanced data storage capacities offered by BDXL.
BDXL has been announced alongside a second format, IH-BD - a hybrid format which provides both a 25GB read-only layer and a second 25GB re-writable layer on a single disc. The concept for IH-BD is that the user will be able to view - but not modify - pre-recorded data on the disc while simultaneously adding their own supplementary data onto the second layer.
Although neither of the new specifications is aimed at the entertainment industry directly, the ability to include even more content is likely to drive adoption at some point in the future - and the idea of a disc which can have data written to it, potentially locking a film to a single playback device and killing the second-hand market, is something which Hollywood is going to find extremely tempting.
So far the Blu-ray Disc Association hasn't provided any details on planned implementations of either specification.
Are you looking forward to the day when a 100GB re-writable disc is something the average consumer can afford, or have cheap external hard drives all but taken over the backup and data archiving market? Are you worried at what horrors future DRM implementations could achieve with a game or film disc that can be modified? Share your thoughts over in the forums