Blu-ray or Blu-ray Disc (BD) is a digital optical disc data storage format. It was designed to supersede the DVD format, and is capable of storing several hours of video in high-definition (HDTV 720p and 1080p) and ultra high-definition resolution (2160p). The main application of Blu-ray is as a medium for video material such as feature films and for the physical distribution of video games for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The name "Blu-ray" refers to the blue laser (actually a violet laser) used to read the disc, which allows information to be stored at a greater density than is possible with the longer-wavelength red laser used for DVDs.
The plastic disc is 120 millimetres (4.7 in) in diameter and 1.2 millimetres (0.047 in) thick, the same size as DVDs and CDs. Conventional or pre-BD-XL Blu-ray discs contain 25 GB per layer, with dual-layer discs (50 GB) being the industry standard for feature-length video discs. Triple-layer discs (100 GB) and quadruple-layer discs (128 GB) are available for BD-XL re-writer drives.
High-definition (HD) video may be stored on Blu-ray discs with up to 2160p resolution (3840×2160 pixels) and at up to 60 frames per second. DVD-Video discs were limited to a maximum resolution of 480p (NTSC, 720×480 pixels) or 576p (PAL, 720×576 pixels). Besides these hardware specifications, Blu-ray is associated with a set of multimedia formats.
The BD format was developed by the Blu-ray Disc Association, a group representing makers of consumer electronics, computer hardware, and motion pictures. Sony unveiled the first Blu-ray disc prototypes in October 2000, and the first prototype player was released in April 2003 in Japan. Afterwards, it continued to be developed until its official release on June 20, 2006, beginning the high-definition optical disc format war, where Blu-ray Disc competed with the HD DVD format. Toshiba, the main company supporting HD DVD, conceded in February 2008, and later released its own Blu-ray Disc player in late 2009. According to Media Research, high-definition software sales in the United States were slower in the first two years than DVD software sales. Blu-ray faces competition from video on demand (VOD) and the continued sale of DVDs. Notably, as of January 2016, 44% of U.S. broadband households had a Blu-ray player.
Reverse side of a Blu-ray. Unlike CD and DVD, the reflection is more blueish.
|Media type||High-density optical disc|
|Encoding||Data encoding: CLV or Zoned CAV pits-and-lands with interleaved error correction code |
BDMV Video encoding: H.262/MPEG-2 Part 2
|Capacity||25 GB (single-layer)|
50 GB (dual-layer)
100/200/300 GB (BDXL)
Up to six layers are possible in a standard form BD.
|Block size||2 KB sector, 64 KB ECC-block|
|Read mechanism||195-405 nm diode laser, 36 Mb/s|
|Write mechanism||405 nm diode laser at a speed of 16× media rate (as of July 2017)|
|Developed by||Sony |
Blu-ray Disc Association
|Dimensions||120 mm (4.7 in) diameter|
1.2 mm thickness[note 1]
PlayStation 3 games
PlayStation 4 games
Xbox One games
obsolete rival format HD DVD
|Extended to||Archival disc|
|Released||20 June 2006|
The information density of the DVD format was limited by the wavelength of the laser diodes used. Following protracted development, blue laser diodes operating at 405 nanometers became available on a production basis, allowing for development of a more-dense storage format that could hold higher-definition media. Sony started two projects in collaboration with Panasonic, Philips, and TDK, applying the new diodes: UDO (Ultra Density Optical), and DVR Blue (together with Pioneer), a format of rewritable discs that would eventually become Blu-ray Disc (more specifically, BD-RE). The core technologies of the formats are similar. The first DVR Blue prototypes were unveiled at the CEATEC exhibition in October 2000 by Sony. A trademark for the "Blue Disc" logo was filed February 9, 2001. On February 19, 2002, the project was officially announced as Blu-ray Disc, and Blu-ray Disc Founders was founded by the nine initial members.
The first consumer device arrived in stores on April 10, 2003: the Sony BDZ-S77, a US$3,800 BD-RE recorder that was made available only in Japan. But there was no standard for prerecorded video, and no movies were released for this player. Hollywood studios insisted that players be equipped with digital rights management before they would release movies for the new format, and they wanted a new DRM system that would be more secure than the failed Content Scramble System (CSS) used on DVDs. On October 4, 2004, the name "Blu-ray Disc Founders" was officially changed to the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), and 20th Century Fox joined the BDA's Board of Directors. The Blu-ray Disc physical specifications were completed in 2004.
In January 2005, TDK announced that they had now developed an ultra-hard yet very thin polymer coating ("Durabis") for Blu-ray discs; this was a significant technical advance because a far tougher protection was desired in the consumer market to protect bare discs against scratching and damage compared to DVD, while technically Blu-ray Disc required a much thinner layer for the denser and higher frequency blue laser. Cartridges, originally used for scratch protection, were no longer necessary and were scrapped. The BD-ROM specifications were finalized in early 2006.
AACS LA, a consortium founded in 2004, had been developing the DRM platform that could be used to securely distribute movies to consumers. However, the final AACS standard was delayed, and then delayed again when an important member of the Blu-ray Disc group voiced concerns. At the request of the initial hardware manufacturers, including Toshiba, Pioneer, and Samsung, an interim standard was published that did not include some features, such as managed copy.
The first BD-ROM players (Samsung BD-P1000) were shipped in mid-June 2006, though HD DVD players beat them to market by a few months. The first Blu-ray Disc titles were released on June 20, 2006: 50 First Dates, The Fifth Element, Hitch, House of Flying Daggers, Underworld: Evolution, xXx (all Sony), Twister (Warner Bros.), and MGM's The Terminator. The earliest releases used MPEG-2 video compression, the same method used on standard DVDs. The first releases using the newer VC-1 and AVC formats were introduced in September 2006. The first movies using 50 GB dual-layer discs were introduced in October 2006. The first audio-only albums were released in May 2008.
The first mass-market Blu-ray Disc rewritable drive for the PC was the BWU-100A, released by Sony on July 18, 2006. It recorded both single and dual-layer BD-Rs as well as BD-REs and had a suggested retail price of US $699. As of June 2008, more than 2,500 Blu-ray Disc titles were available in Australia and the United Kingdom, with 3,500 in the United States and Canada. In Japan, as of July 2010, more than 3,300 titles have been released.
The DVD Forum, chaired by Toshiba, was split over whether to develop the more expensive blue laser technology. In March 2002 the forum approved a proposal, which was endorsed by Warner Bros. and other motion picture studios. The proposal involved compressing high-definition video onto dual-layer standard DVD-9 discs. In spite of this decision, however, the DVD Forum's Steering Committee announced in April that it was pursuing its own blue-laser high-definition video solution. In August, Toshiba and NEC announced their competing standard, Advanced Optical Disc. It was finally adopted by the DVD Forum and renamed HD DVD the next year, after being voted down twice by DVD Forum members who were also Blu-ray Disc Association members—a situation that drew preliminary investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice.
HD DVD had a head start in the high-definition video market, as Blu-ray Disc sales were slow to gain market share. The first Blu-ray Disc player was perceived as expensive and buggy, and there were few titles available.
The appearance of the Sony PlayStation 3, which contained a Blu-ray Disc player for primary storage, helped support Blu-ray. Sony also ran a more thorough and influential marketing campaign for the format. AVCHD camcorders were also introduced in 2006. These recordings can be played back on many Blu-ray Disc players without re-encoding but are not compatible with HD DVD players. By January 2007, Blu-ray Discs had outsold HD DVDs, and during the first three quarters of 2007, BD outsold HD DVD by about two to one. At CES 2007, Warner proposed Total Hi Def—a hybrid disc containing Blu-ray on one side and HD DVD on the other, but it was never released.
In a June 28, 2007, press release, Twentieth Century Fox cited Blu-ray Disc's adoption of the BD+ anticopying system as key to their decision to support the Blu-ray Disc format. On January 4, 2008, a day before CES 2008, Warner Bros. (the only major studio still releasing movies in both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc format) announced that it would release only in Blu-ray Disc after May 2008. This effectively included other studios that came under the Warner umbrella, such as New Line Cinema and HBO—though in Europe, HBO distribution partner, the BBC, announced it would, while keeping an eye on market forces, continue to release product on both formats. This led to a chain reaction in the industry, with major U.S. retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart, and Circuit City and Canadian chains such as Future Shop dropping HD DVD in their stores. A then major European retailer, Woolworths, dropped HD DVD from its inventory. Netflix and Blockbuster—major DVD rental companies—said they would no longer carry HD DVD.
Following these new developments, on February 19, 2008, Toshiba announced it would end production of HD DVD devices, allowing Blu-ray Disc to become the industry standard for high-density optical discs. Universal Studios, the sole major movie studio to back HD DVD since its inception, said shortly after Toshiba's announcement: "While Universal values the close partnership we have shared with Toshiba, it is time to turn our focus to releasing new and catalog titles on Blu-ray Disc." Paramount Pictures, which started releasing movies only in HD DVD format during late 2007, also said it would start releasing in Blu-ray Disc. Both studios announced initial Blu-ray lineups in May 2008. With this, all major Hollywood studios supported Blu-ray.
According to Media Research, high-definition software sales in the US were slower in the first two years than DVD software sales. 16.3 million DVD software units were sold in the first two years (1997–98) compared to 8.3 million high-definition software units (2006–07). One reason given for this difference was the smaller marketplace (26.5 million HDTVs in 2007 compared to 100 million SDTVs in 1998). Former HD DVD supporter Microsoft did not make a Blu-ray Disc drive for the Xbox 360. The 360's successor Xbox One features a Blu-ray drive, as does the PS4, with both supporting 3D Blu-ray after later firmware updates.
Shortly after the "format war" ended, Blu-ray Disc sales began to increase. A study by The NPD Group found that awareness of Blu-ray Disc had reached 60% of U.S. households. Nielsen VideoScan sales numbers showed that for some titles, such as 20th Century Fox's Hitman, up to 14% of total disc sales were from Blu-ray, although the average Blu-ray sales for the first half of the year were only around 5%. In December 2008, the Blu-ray Disc version of The Dark Knight sold 600,000 copies on the first day of its launch in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. A week after the launch, The Dark Knight BD had sold over 1.7 million copies worldwide, making it the first Blu-ray Disc title to sell over a million copies in the first week of release.
|Year||Cumulative sales (millions)|
According to Singulus Technologies AG, Blu-ray is being adopted faster than the DVD format was at a similar period in its development. This conclusion was based on the fact that Singulus Technologies has received orders for 21 Blu-ray dual-layer machines during the first quarter of 2008, while 17 DVD machines of this type were made in the same period in 1997. According to GfK Retail and Technology, in the first week of November 2008, sales of Blu-ray recorders surpassed DVD recorders in Japan. According to the Digital Entertainment Group, the number of Blu-ray Disc playback devices (both set-top box and game console) sold in the U.S. had reached 28.5 million by the end of 2010.
Blu-ray faces competition from video on demand and from new technologies that allow access to movies on any format or device, such as Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem or Disney's Keychest. Some commentators have suggested that renting Blu-ray will play a vital part in keeping the technology affordable while allowing it to move forward. In an effort to increase sales, studios are releasing movies in combo packs with Blu-ray Discs and DVDs as well as digital copies that can be played on computers and mobile devices. Some are released on "flipper" discs with Blu-ray on one side and DVD on the other. Other strategies are to release movies with the special features only on Blu-ray Discs and none on DVDs.
The Holographic Versatile Disc (HVD), described in the ECMA-377 standard, has been in development by The Holography System Development (HSD) Forum using a green writing/reading laser (532 nm) and a red positioning/addressing laser (650 nm). It is to offer MPEG-2, MPEG-4 AVC (H.264), HEVC (H.265), and VC-1 encoding, supporting a maximum storage capacity of 6TB. No systems corresponding to the Ecma International HVD standard have been released. Because the Blu-ray Disc format is upgradable it poses challenges to the adoption of the HVD format. 4K Blu-ray discs and players became available in the first quarter of 2016, having a storage capacity of up to 100 GB.
Although the Blu-ray Disc specification has been finalized, engineers continue to work on advancing the technology. By 2005, quad-layer (128 GB) discs had been demonstrated on a drive with modified optics and standard unaltered optics. Hitachi stated that such a disc could be used to store 7 hours of 32 Mbit/s video (HDTV) or 3 hours and 30 minutes of 64 Mbit/s video (ultra-high-definition television). In August 2006, TDK announced that they had created a working experimental Blu-ray Disc capable of holding 200 GB of data on a single side, using six 33 GB data layers.
Also, behind closed doors at CES 2007, Ritek revealed that they had successfully developed a high-definition optical disc process that extends the disc capacity to ten layers, which increases the capacity of the discs to 250 GB. However, they noted that the major obstacle is that current read/write technology does not allow additional layers. JVC has developed a three-layer technology that allows putting both standard-definition DVD data and HD data on a BD/(standard) DVD combination. This would have enabled the consumer to purchase a disc that can be played on DVD players and can also reveal its HD version when played on a BD player. Japanese optical disc manufacturer Infinity announced the first "hybrid" Blu-ray Disc/(standard) DVD combo, to be released February 18, 2009. This disc set of the TV series "Code Blue" featured four hybrid discs containing a single Blu-ray Disc layer (25 GB) and two DVD layers (9 GB) on the same side of the disc.
In January 2007, Hitachi showcased a 100 GB Blu-ray Disc, consisting of four layers containing 25 GB each. Unlike TDK's and Panasonic's 100 GB discs, they claim this disc is readable on standard Blu-ray Disc drives that are currently in circulation, and it is believed that a firmware update is the only requirement to make it readable to current players and drives. In December 2008, Pioneer Corporation unveiled a 400 GB Blu-ray Disc (containing 16 data layers, 25 GB each) that will be compatible with current players after a firmware update. Its planned launch was in the 2009–10 time frame for ROM and 2010–13 for rewritable discs. Ongoing development was underway to create a 1 TB Blu-ray Disc.
At CES 2009, Panasonic unveiled the DMP-B15, the first portable Blu-ray Disc player, and Sharp introduced the LC-BD60U and LC-BD80U series, the first LCD HDTVs with integrated Blu-ray Disc players. Sharp has also announced that they will sell HDTVs with integrated Blu-ray Disc recorders in the United States by the end of 2009. Set-top box recorders were not being sold in the U.S. for fear of unauthorized copying. However, personal computers with Blu-ray recorder drives were available. On January 1, 2010, Sony, in association with Panasonic, announced plans to increase the storage capacity on their Blu-ray Discs from 25 GB to 33.4 GB via a technology called i-MLSE (Maximum likelihood Sequence Estimation). The higher-capacity discs, according to Sony, would be readable on existing Blu-ray Disc players with a firmware upgrade. This technology is later used on BDXL discs.
On July 20, 2010, the research team of Sony and Japanese Tohoku University announced the joint development of a blue-violet laser, to help create Blu-ray discs with a capacity of 1 TB using only two layers (and potentially more than 1 TB with additional layering). By comparison, the first blue laser was invented in 1996, with the first prototype discs coming four years later.
On January 7, 2013, Sony announced that it would release "Mastered in 4K" Blu-ray Disc titles which are sourced at 4K and encoded at 1080p. "Mastered in 4K" Blu-ray Disc titles can be played on existing Blu-ray Disc players and have a larger color space using xvYCC. On January 14, 2013, Blu-ray Disc Association president, Andy Parsons, stated that a task force was created three months prior to conduct a study concerning an extension to the Blu-ray Disc specification that would add the ability to contain 4K Ultra HD video.
On August 5, 2015, The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) announced it will commence licensing the Ultra HD Blu-ray format starting August 24, 2015. The Ultra HD Blu-ray format delivered high dynamic range content that significantly expanded the range between the brightest and darkest elements, expanded color range, high frame rate (up to 60fps) and up to 3840×2160 resolution, object-based sound formats, and an optional "digital bridge" feature. New players were required to play this format, which were able to play both DVDs, traditional Blu-rays and the new format. New Ultra HD Blu-ray discs hold up to 66 GB and 100 GB of data on dual- and triple-layer discs, respectively.
|Standard disc size, single layer||12||1||25,025,314,816|
|Standard disc size, dual layer||12||2||50,050,629,632|
|Standard disc size, XL 3 layer||12||3||100,103,356,416|
|Standard disc size, XL 4 layer||12||4||128,001,769,472|
|Mini disc size, single layer||8||1||7,791,181,824|
|Mini disc size, dual layer||8||2||15,582,363,648|
While a DVD uses a 650 nm red laser, Blu-ray Disc uses a 405 nm "blue" laser diode. Although the laser is called "blue", its color is actually in the violet range. The shorter wavelength can be focused to a smaller area, thus enabling it to read information recorded in pits that are less than half the size of those on a DVD, and can consequently be spaced more closely, resulting in a shorter track pitch, enabling a Blu-ray Disc to hold about five times the amount of information that can be stored on a DVD. The lasers are GaN (gallium nitride) laser diodes that produce 405 nm light directly, that is, without frequency doubling or other nonlinear optical mechanisms. Conventional DVDs use 650 nm red lasers, and CDs use 780 nm near-infrared lasers.
The minimum "spot size" on which a laser can be focused is limited by diffraction and depends on the wavelength of the light and the numerical aperture of the lens used to focus it. By decreasing the wavelength, increasing the numerical aperture from 0.60 to 0.85, and making the cover layer thinner to avoid unwanted optical effects, designers can cause the laser beam to focus on a smaller spot, which effectively allows more information to be stored in the same area. For Blu-ray Disc, the spot size is 580 nm. This allows a reduction of the pit size from 400 nm for DVD to 150 nm for Blu-ray Disc, and of the track pitch from 740 nm to 320 nm. See compact disc for information on optical discs' physical structure. In addition to the optical improvements, Blu-ray Discs feature improvements in data encoding that further increase the amount of content that can be stored.
Since the Blu-ray Disc data layer is closer to the surface of the disc compared to the DVD standard, it was more vulnerable to scratches in early designs. The first discs were therefore housed in cartridges for protection, resembling Professional Discs introduced by Sony in 2003. Using a cartridge would increase the price of an already expensive medium, so designers chose hard-coating of the pickup surface instead. TDK was the first company to develop a working scratch-protection coating for Blu-ray Discs, naming it Durabis. In addition, both Sony's and Panasonic's replication methods include proprietary hard-coat technologies. Sony's rewritable media are spin-coated, using a scratch-resistant and antistatic coating. Verbatim's recordable and rewritable Blu-ray Discs use their own proprietary technology, called Hard Coat.
The Blu-ray Disc specification requires the testing of resistance to scratches by mechanical abrasion. In contrast, DVD media are not required to be scratch-resistant, but since development of the technology, some companies, such as Verbatim, implemented hard-coating for more expensive lines of recordable DVDs.
|Drive speed||Data rate||~Write time (minutes)|
The table shows the speeds available. Even the lowest speed (1×) is sufficient to play and record real-time 1080p video; the higher speeds are relevant for general data storage and more sophisticated handling of video. BD discs are designed to cope with at least 5000rpm of rotational speed.
The usable data rate of a Blu-ray Disc drive can be limited by the capacity of the drive's data interface. With a USB 2.0 interface, the maximum exploitable drive speed is 288 Mbit/s or 36 MB/s (also called 8× speed). A USB 3.0 interface (with proper cabling) does not have this limitation, nor do even the oldest version of Serial ATA (SATA, 150 MB/s) nor the latest Parallel ATA (133 MB/s) standards. Blu-ray drives that are integrated into a computer (as opposed to physically separate and connected via a cable) typically have a SATA interface.
Pre-recorded Blu-ray Disc titles usually ship in packages similar to but slightly smaller (18.5 mm shorter and 2 mm thinner: 135 mm × 171.5 mm × 13 mm), as well as more rounded than a standard DVD keep case, generally with the format prominently displayed in a horizontal stripe across the top of the case (translucent blue for Blu-ray video discs, clear for Blu-ray 3D video releases, red for PlayStation 3 Greatest Hits Games, transparent for regular PlayStation 3 games, transparent dark blue for PlayStation 4 games, transparent green for Xbox One games and black for Ultra HD Blu-ray video releases). Warren Osborn and The Seastone Media Group, LLC created the package that was adopted worldwide following the Blu-ray versus HD DVD market adoption choice. Because of the fact that Blu-ray cases are smaller than DVD cases, more Blu-Rays than DVDs can fit on a shelf, making Blu-ray an arguably better choice for situations with limited storage space.
The "Mini Blu-ray Disc" (also, "Mini-BD" and "Mini Blu-ray") is a compact 8-centimetre-diameter (~3 in) variant of the Blu-ray Disc that can store 7.8 GB of data in its single layer configuration, or 15.6 GB on a dual layer disc. It is similar in concept to the MiniDVD and MiniCD. Recordable (BD-R) and rewritable (BD-RE) versions of Mini Blu-ray Disc have been developed specifically for compact camcorders and other compact recording devices.
"Blu-ray Disc recordable" refers to two optical disc formats that can be recorded with an optical disc recorder. BD-Rs can be written to once, whereas BD-REs can be erased and re-recorded multiple times. The current practical maximum speed for Blu-ray Discs is about 12× (54 MB/s).(1.7) Higher speeds of rotation (10,000+ rpm) cause too much wobble for the discs to be written properly, as with the 20× (27.7 MB/s) and 52× (7.8 MB/s) maximum speeds, respectively, of standard DVDs and CDs. Since September 2007, BD-RE is also available in the smaller 8 cm Mini Blu-ray Disc size.
On September 18, 2007, Pioneer and Mitsubishi codeveloped BD-R LTH ("Low to High" in groove recording), which features an organic dye recording layer that can be manufactured by modifying existing CD-R and DVD-R production equipment, significantly reducing manufacturing costs. In February 2008, Taiyo Yuden, Mitsubishi, and Maxell released the first BD-R LTH Discs, and in March 2008, Sony's PlayStation 3 officially gained the ability to use BD-R LTH Discs with the 2.20 firmware update. In May 2009 Verbatim/Mitsubishi announced the industry's first 6X BD-R LTH media, which allows recording a 25 GB disc in about 16 minutes. Unlike with the previous releases of 120 mm optical discs (i.e. CDs and standard DVDs), Blu-ray recorders hit the market almost simultaneously with Blu-ray's debut.
The BD9 format was proposed to the Blu-ray Disc Association by Warner Home Video as a cost-effective alternative to the 25/50 GB BD-ROM discs. The format was supposed to use the same codecs and program structure as Blu-ray Disc video but recorded onto less expensive 8.5 GB dual-layer DVD. This red-laser media could be manufactured on existing DVD production lines with lower costs of production than the 25/50 GB Blu-ray media.
Usage of BD9 for releasing content on "pressed" discs never caught on. With the end of the format war, manufacturers ramped production of Blu-ray Discs and lowered prices to compete with DVDs. On the other hand, the idea of using inexpensive DVD media became popular among individual users. A lower-capacity version of this format that uses single-layer 4.7 GB DVDs has been unofficially called BD5. Both formats are being used by individuals for recording high-definition content in Blu-ray format onto recordable DVD media. Despite the fact that the BD9 format has been adopted as part of the BD-ROM basic format, none of the existing Blu-ray player models explicitly claim to be able to read it. Consequently, the discs recorded in BD9 and BD5 formats are not guaranteed to play on standard Blu-ray Disc players. AVCHD and AVCREC also use inexpensive media like DVDs, but unlike BD9 and BD5 these formats have limited interactivity, codec types, and data rates. As of March 2011, BD9 was removed as an official BD-ROM disc.
The BDXL format allows 100 GB and 128 GB write-once discs, and 100 GB rewritable discs for commercial applications. It was defined in June 2010. BD-R 3.0 Format Specification (BDXL) defined a multi-layered disc recordable in BDAV format with the speed of 2× and 4×, capable of 100/128 GB and usage of UDF2.5/2.6. BD-RE 4.0 Format Specification (BDXL) defined a multi-layered disc rewritable in BDAV with the speed of 2× and 4×, capable of 100 GB and usage of UDF2.5 as file system.
Blu-ray Disc specifies the use of Universal Disk Format (UDF) 2.50 as a convergent-friendly format for both PC and consumer electronics environments. It is used in the latest specifications of BD-ROM, BD-RE, and BD-R. In the first BD-RE specification (defined in 2002), the BDFS (Blu-ray Disc File System) was used. The BD-RE 1.0 specification was defined mainly for the digital recording of high-definition television (HDTV) broadcast television. The BDFS was replaced by UDF 2.50 in the second BD-RE specification in 2005, in order to enable interoperability among consumer electronics Blu-ray recorders and personal computer systems. These optical disc recording technologies enabled PC recording and playback of BD-RE. BD-R can use UDF 2.50/2.60.
The Blu-ray Disc application for recording of digital broadcasting has been developed as System Description Blu-ray Rewritable Disc Format part 3 Audio Visual Basic Specifications (BDAV). The requirements related with computer file system have been specified in System Description Blu-ray Rewritable Disc Format part 2 File System Specifications version 1.0 (BDFS). Initially, the BD-RE version 1.0 (BDFS) was specifically developed for recording of digital broadcasts using the Blu-ray Disc application (BDAV application). But these requirements are superseded by the Blu-ray Rewritable Disc File System Specifications version 2.0 (UDF) (a.k.a. RE 2.0) and Blu-ray Recordable Disc File System Specifications version 1.0 (UDF) (a.k.a. R 1.0). Additionally, a new application format, BDMV (System Description Blu-ray Disc Prerecorded Format part 3 Audio Visual Basic Specifications) for High Definition Content Distribution was developed for BD-ROM. The only file system developed for BDMV is the System Description Blu-ray Read-Only Disc Format part 2 File System Specifications version 1.0 (UDF) which defines the requirements for UDF 2.50.
Audio, video, and other streams are multiplexed and stored on Blu-ray Discs in a container format based on the MPEG transport stream. It is also known as BDAV MPEG-2 transport stream and can use filename extension .m2ts. Blu-ray Disc titles authored with menus are in the BDMV (Blu-ray Disc Movie) format and contain audio, video, and other streams in BDAV container. There is also the BDAV (Blu-ray Disc Audio/Visual) format, the consumer oriented alternative to the BDMV format used for movie releases. The BDAV format is used on BD-REs and BD-Rs for audio/video recording. BDMV format was later defined also for BD-RE and BD-R (in September 2006, in the third revision of BD-RE specification and second revision of BD-R specification).
Blu-ray Disc employs the MPEG transport stream recording method. That enables transport streams of digital broadcasts to be recorded as they are broadcast, without altering the format. It also enables flexible editing of a digital broadcast that is recorded as is and where the data can be edited just by rewriting the playback stream. Although it is quite natural, a function for high-speed and easy-to-use retrieval is built in. Blu-ray Disc Video use MPEG transport streams, compared to DVD's MPEG program streams. An MPEG transport stream contains one or more MPEG program streams, so this allows multiple video programs to be stored in the same file so they can be played back simultaneously (e.g. with "picture-in-picture" effect).
The BD-ROM specification mandates certain codec compatibilities for both hardware decoders (players) and movie software (content). Windows Media Player does not come with the codecs required to play Blu-ray discs.
Originally BD-ROMs stored video up to 1920×1080 pixel resolution at up to 60 (59.94) fields per second. Currently with UHD BD-ROM videos can be stored at a maximum of 3840×2160 pixel resolution at up to 60 (59.94) frames per second, progressively scanned. While most current Blu-ray players and recorders can read and write 1920×1080 video at the full 59.94p and 50p progressive format, new players for the UHD specifications will be able to read at 3840×2160 video at either 59.94p and 50p formats.
|Display aspect ratio|
|4K UHD [a]||3840×2160 60p||16:9|
|HD [a]||1920×1080 60p||16:9|
|HD||1920×1080 59.94i [b]||16:9|
|1920×1080 50i [b]||16:9|
|1440×1080 59.94i [b][c]||16:9 [d]|
|1440×1080 50i [b][c]||16:9 [d]|
|1440×1080 24p [c]||16:9 [d]|
|1440×1080 23.976p [c]||16:9 [d]|
|SD||720×480 59.94i [b]||4:3 or 16:9 [d]|
|720×576 50i [b]||4:3 or 16:9 [d]|
^ a Only supported on UltraHD Blu-Ray with HEVC video compression standard.
^ b Interlaced formats are listed in fields per second.
^ c MPEG-2 at 1440×1080 was previously not included in a draft version of the specification from March 2005.
^ d These resolutions are stored anamorphically, i.e. they are stretched to the display aspect ratio by the player or display.
For video, all players are required to process H.262/MPEG-2 Part 2, H.264/MPEG-4 Part 10: AVC, and SMPTE VC-1. BD-ROM titles with video must store video using one of the three mandatory formats; multiple formats on a single title are allowed. Blu-ray Disc allows video with a bit depth of 8-bits per color YCbCr with 4:2:0 chroma subsampling. The choice of formats affects the producer's licensing/royalty costs as well as the title's maximum run time, due to differences in compression efficiency. Discs encoded in MPEG-2 video typically limit content producers to around two hours of high-definition content on a single-layer (25 GB) BD-ROM. The more-advanced video formats (VC-1 and MPEG-4 AVC) typically achieve a video run time twice that of MPEG-2, with comparable quality.
MPEG-2 was used by many studios (including Paramount Pictures, which initially used the VC-1 format for HD DVD releases) for the first series of Blu-ray Discs, which were launched throughout 2006. Modern releases are now often encoded in either MPEG-4 AVC or VC-1, allowing film studios to place all content on one disc, reducing costs and improving ease of use. Using these formats also frees a lot of space for storage of bonus content in HD (1080i/p), as opposed to the SD (480i/p) typically used for most titles. Some studios, such as Warner Bros., have released bonus content on discs encoded in a different format than the main feature title. For example, the Blu-ray Disc release of Superman Returns uses VC-1 for the feature film and MPEG-2 for some of its bonus content. Today, Warner and other studios typically provide bonus content in the video format that matches the feature.
For audio, BD-ROM players are required to implement Dolby Digital (AC-3), DTS, and linear PCM. Players may optionally implement Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD High Resolution Audio as well as lossless formats Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. BD-ROM titles must use one of the mandatory schemes for the primary soundtrack. A secondary audiotrack, if present, may use any of the mandatory or optional codecs.
|LPCM (uncompressed)||Dolby Digital||Dolby Digital Plus||Dolby TrueHD (lossless)||DTS Digital Surround||DTS-HD Master Audio (lossless)||DRA||DRA extension|
|Max. bitrate||27.648 Mbit/s||640 kbit/s||4.736 Mbit/s||18.64 Mbit/s||1.524 Mbit/s||24.5 Mbit/s||1.5 Mbit/s||3.0 Mbit/s|
|Max. channel||8 (48 kHz, 96 kHz), 6 (192 kHz)||5.1||7.1||8 (48 kHz, 96 kHz), 6 (192 kHz)||5.1||8 (48 kHz, 96 kHz), 6 (192 kHz)||5.1||7.1|
|Bits/sample||16, 20, 24||16, 24||16, 24||16, 24||16, 20, 24||16, 24||16||16|
|Sample frequency||48 kHz, 96 kHz, 192 kHz||48 kHz||48 kHz||48 kHz, 96 kHz, 192 kHz||48 kHz||48 kHz, 96 kHz, 192 kHz||48 kHz||48 kHz, 96 kHz|
For users recording digital television programming, the recordable Blu-ray Disc standard's initial data rate of 36 Mbit/s is more than adequate to record high-definition broadcasts from any source (IPTV, cable/satellite, or terrestrial). BD Video movies have a maximum data transfer rate of 54 Mbit/s, a maximum AV bitrate of 48 Mbit/s (for both audio and video data), and a maximum video bit rate of 40 Mbit/s. This compares to HD DVD movies, which have a maximum data transfer rate of 36 Mbit/s, a maximum AV bitrate of 30.24 Mbit/s, and a maximum video bitrate of 29.4 Mbit/s.
At the 2005 JavaOne trade show, it was announced that Sun Microsystems' Java cross-platform software environment would be included in all Blu-ray Disc players as a mandatory part of the standard. Java is used to implement interactive menus on Blu-ray Discs, as opposed to the method used on DVD-video discs. DVDs use pre-rendered MPEG segments and selectable subtitle pictures, which are considerably more primitive and rarely seamless. At the conference, Java creator James Gosling suggested that the inclusion of a Java virtual machine, as well as network connectivity in some BD devices, will allow updates to Blu-ray Discs via the Internet, adding content such as additional subtitle languages and promotional features not included on the disc at pressing time. This Java Version is called BD-J and is built on a profile of the Globally Executable MHP (GEM) standard; GEM is the worldwide version of the Multimedia Home Platform standard.
The BD-ROM specification defines four Blu-ray Disc player profiles, including an audio-only player profile (BD-Audio) that does not require video decoding or BD-J. All of the video-based player profiles (BD-Video) are required to have a full implementation of BD-J.
|Grace Period[d]||Bonus View||BD-Live[e]||Blu-ray 3D|
|Profile 3.0[c]||Profile 1.0||Profile 1.1||Profile 2.0||Profile 5.0|
|Built-in persistent memory||Unneeded||64 KB||64 KB||64 KB||64 KB?|
|Local storage capability[a]||Unneeded||Optional||256 MB||1 GB||1 GB|
|Secondary video decoder (PiP)||No video||Optional||Mandatory||Mandatory||Mandatory|
|Secondary audio decoder[b]||Optional||Optional||Mandatory||Mandatory||Mandatory|
|Virtual file system||Unneeded||Optional||Mandatory||Mandatory||Mandatory|
|Internet connection capability||No||No||No||Mandatory||Mandatory|
^ a This is used for storing audio/video and title updates. It can either be built-in memory or removable media, such as a memory card or USB flash memory.
^ b A secondary audio decoder is typically used for interactive audio and commentary.
^ c Profile 3.0 is a separate audio-only player profile. The first Blu-ray Disc album to be released was Divertimenti, by record label Lindberg Lyd, and it has been confirmed to work on the PS3.
^ d Also known as Initial Standard profile.
^ e Also known as Final Standard profile.
On November 2, 2007, the Grace Period Profile was superseded by Bonus View as the minimum profile for new BD-Video players released to the market. When Blu-ray Disc software not authored with interactive features dependent on Bonus View or BD-Live hardware capabilities is played on Profile 1.0 players, it is able to play the main feature of the disc, but some extra features may not be available or will have limited capability.
The biggest difference between Bonus View and BD-Live is that BD-Live requires the Blu-ray Disc player to have an Internet connection to access Internet-based content. BD-Live features have included Internet chats, scheduled chats with the director, Internet games, downloadable featurettes, downloadable quizzes, and downloadable movie trailers. While some Bonus View players may have an Ethernet port, it is used for firmware updates and is not used for Internet-based content. In addition, Profile 2.0 also requires more local storage in order to handle this content.
Profile 1.0 players are not eligible for Bonus View or BD-Live compliant upgrades and do not have the function or capability to access these upgrades, with the exception of the latest players and the PlayStation 3. Internet is required to use.
As with the implementation of region codes for DVDs, Blu-ray Disc players sold in a specific geographical region are designed to play only discs authorized by the content provider for that region. This is intended to permit content providers (motion picture studios, television production company etc.) to enact regional price discrimination and/or exclusive content licensing. According to the Blu-ray Disc Association, all Blu-ray Disc players and Blu-ray Disc-equipped computer systems are required to enforce regional coding. However, content providers need not use region playback codes. Some current estimates suggest 70% of available [movie] Blu-ray Discs from the major studios are region-code-free and can, therefore, be played on any Blu-ray Disc player, in any region.
Movie distributors have different region coding policies. Among major U.S. studios, Walt Disney Pictures, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, and Sony Pictures have released most of their titles region-free. MGM and Lions Gate Entertainment have released a mix of region-free and region-coded titles. 20th Century Fox has released most of their titles region-coded. Vintage film restoration and distribution company The Criterion Collection uses US region coding in all Blu-ray releases.
The Blu-ray Disc region coding scheme divides the world into three regions, labeled A, B, and C.
|A||The Americas and their dependencies, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia; excludes instances that fall under Region C|
|B||Africa, Middle East, Southwest Asia, most of Europe, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and their dependencies; excludes instances that fall under Region C|
|C||Central Asia, mainland China, Mongolia, Indian Subcontinent, Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and their dependencies|
|FREE||Informal term meaning "worldwide". Region free is not an official setting; discs that bear the region FREE symbol either have no flags set or have all three flags set. Discs with no flags set may not play in some non-compliant players.|
In circumvention of region coding restrictions, stand-alone Blu-ray Disc players are sometimes modified by third parties to allow for playback of Blu-ray Discs (and DVDs) with any region code. Instructions ("hacks") describing how to reset the Blu-ray region counter of computer player applications to make them multi-region indefinitely are also regularly posted to video enthusiast websites and forums. Unlike DVD region codes, Blu-ray region codes are verified only by the player software, not by the optical drive's firmware.
The Blu-ray Disc format employs several layers of digital rights management (DRM) which restrict the usage of the discs. This has led to extensive criticism of the format by organizations opposed to DRM, such as the Free Software Foundation, and consumers because new releases require player firmware updates to allow disc playback.
Blu-ray equipment is required to implement the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) system to encrypt the data sent by players to rendering devices through physical connections. This is aimed at preventing the copying of copyrighted content as it travels across cables. Through a protocol flag in the media stream called the Image Constraint Token (ICT), a Blu-ray Disc can enforce its reproduction in a lower resolution whenever a full HDCP-compliant link is not used. In order to ease the transition to high definition formats, the adoption of this protection method was postponed until 2011.
The Advanced Access Content System (AACS) is a standard for content distribution and digital rights management. It was developed by AS Licensing Administrator, LLC (AACS LA), a consortium that includes Disney, Intel, Microsoft, Panasonic, Warner Bros., IBM, Toshiba, and Sony. Since the appearance of the format on devices in 2006, several successful attacks have been made on it. The first known attack relied on the trusted client problem. In addition, decryption keys have been extracted from a weakly protected player (WinDVD). Since keys can be revoked in newer releases, this is only a temporary attack, and new keys must continually be discovered in order to decrypt the latest discs.
BD+ was developed by Cryptography Research Inc. and is based on their concept of Self-Protecting Digital Content. BD+, effectively a small virtual machine embedded in authorized players, allows content providers to include executable programs on Blu-ray Discs. Such programs can:
If a playback device manufacturer finds that its devices have been hacked, it can potentially release BD+ code that detects and circumvents the vulnerability. These programs can then be included in all new content releases. The specifications of the BD+ virtual machine are available only to licensed device manufacturers. A list of licensed commercial adopters is available from the BD+ website.
The first titles using BD+ were released in October 2007. Since November 2007, versions of BD+ protection have been circumvented by various versions of the AnyDVD HD program. Other programs known to be capable of circumventing BD+ protection are DumpHD (versions 0.6 and above, along with some supporting software), MakeMKV, and two applications from DVDFab (Passkey and HD Decrypter).
BD-ROM Mark is a small amount of cryptographic data that is stored separately from normal Blu-ray Disc data, aiming to prevent replication of the discs. The cryptographic data is needed to decrypt the copyrighted disc content protected by AACS. A specially licensed piece of hardware is required to insert the ROM Mark into the media during mastering. During replication, this ROM Mark is transferred together with the recorded data to the disc. In consequence, any copies of a disc made with a regular recorder will lack the ROM Mark data and will be unreadable on standard players.
The Blu-ray Disc Association recommends but does not require that Blu-ray Disc drives be capable of reading standard DVDs and CDs, for backward compatibility. Most Blu-ray Disc players are capable of reading both CDs and DVDs; however, a few of the early Blu-ray Disc players released in 2006, such as the Sony BDP-S1, could play DVDs but not CDs. In addition, Blu-ray players cannot play HD DVDs, and HD DVD players cannot play Blu-ray discs. Some Blu-ray players can also play Video CDs, and all 4K Blu-ray players can play regular Blu-ray Discs, and most can play DVDs and CDs. The PlayStation 4 does not support CDs.
High Fidelity Pure Audio (HFPA) is a marketing initiative, spearheaded by the Universal Music Group, for audio-only Blu-ray optical discs. Launched in 2013 as a potential successor to the compact disc, it has been compared with DVD-A and SACD, which had similar aims.
AVCHD was originally developed as a high definition format for consumer tapeless camcorders. Derived from the Blu-ray Disc specification, AVCHD shares a similar random access directory structure but is restricted to lower audio and video bitrates, simpler interactivity, and the use of AVC-video and Dolby AC-3 (or linear PCM) audio. Being primarily an acquisition format, AVCHD playback is not recognized by all devices that play Blu-ray Disc. Nevertheless, many such devices are capable of playing AVCHD recordings from removable media, such as DVDs, SD/SDHC memory cards, "Memory Stick" cards, and hard disk drives.
AVCREC uses a BDAV container to record high definition content on conventional DVDs. Presently AVCREC is tightly integrated with the Japanese ISDB broadcast standard and is not marketed outside of Japan. AVCREC is used primarily in set-top digital video recorders and in this regard is comparable to HD REC.
The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) created a task force made up of executives from the film industry and the consumer electronics and IT sectors to help define standards for putting 3D film and 3D television content on a Blu-ray Disc. On December 17, 2009, the BDA officially announced 3D specs for Blu-ray Disc, allowing backward compatibility with current 2D Blu-ray players. The BDA has said, "The Blu-ray 3D specification calls for encoding 3D video using the "Stereo High" profile defined by Multiview Video Coding (MVC), an extension to the ITU-T H.264 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) codec currently implemented by all Blu-ray Disc players. MPEG4-MVC compresses both left and right eye views with a typical 50% overhead compared to equivalent 2D content, and can provide full 1080p resolution backward compatibility with current 2D Blu-ray Disc players." This means the MVC (3D) stream is backward compatible with H.264/AVC (2D) stream, allowing older 2D devices and software to decode stereoscopic video streams, ignoring additional information for the second view.
Sony added Blu-ray 3D support to its PlayStation 3 console via a firmware upgrade on 21 September 2010. The console had previously gained 3D gaming capability via an update on 21 April 2010. Since the version 3.70 software update on August 9, 2011, the PlayStation 3 can play DTS-HD Master Audio and DTS-HD High Resolution Audio while playing 3D Blu-ray. Dolby TrueHD is used on a small minority of Blu-ray 3D releases, and bitstreaming implemented in slim PlayStation 3 models only (original "fat" PS3 models decode internally and send audio as LPCM). As of 2018, most major home entertainment studios, such as Walt Disney Studios, Sony Pictures, etc. have discontinued the Blu-ray 3D format in North America and other regions.