DVD-R is a DVD recordable format. A DVD-R typically has a storage capacity of 4.71 GB (or 4.39 GiB), although the capacity of the original standard developed by Pioneer was 3.95 GB (3.68 GiB). Both values are larger than the storage capacity of its optical predecessor, the 700 MB CD-R.
Pioneer has also developed an 8.54 GB dual layer version, DVD-R DL, which appeared on the market in 2005. Data on a DVD-R cannot be changed, whereas a DVD-RW (DVD-rewritable) can be rewritten multiple (1000+) times. DVD-R(W) is one of three competing industry standard DVD recordable formats; the others are DVD+R(W) and DVD-RAM.
The DVD-R format was developed by Pioneer in the autumn of 1997. It is supported by most DVD players, and is approved by the DVD Forum.
The larger storage capacity of a DVD-R compared to a CD-R is achieved through smaller pit size and smaller track pitch of the groove spiral which guides the laser beam. Consequently, more pits can be written on the same physical sized disc. In order to write smaller pits onto the recording dye layer a red laser beam with a wavelength of 650 nm (for general use recordable DVD, versus a wavelength of 780 nm for CD-R) is used in conjunction with a higher numerical aperture lens. Because of this shorter wavelength, DVD-R and DVD+R use different dyes from CD-R to properly absorb this wavelength.
DVD-R discs are composed of two 0.6 mm polycarbonate discs, bonded with an adhesive to each other. One contains the laser guiding groove and is coated with the recording dye and a silver alloy or gold reflector. The other one (for single-sided discs) is an ungrooved "dummy" disc to assure mechanical stability of the sandwich structure, and compatibility with the compact disc standard geometry which requires a total disc thickness of about 1.2 mm. The sandwich structure also helps protect the data containing layer from scratches by a thick "dummy" disk, a problem with CDs, which lack that structure. Double-sided discs have two grooved, recordable disc sides, and require the user to flip the disc to access the other side. Compared to a CD's 1.2 mm of polycarbonate, a DVD's laser beam only has to penetrate 0.6 mm of plastic in order to reach the dye recording layer, which allows the lens to focus the beam to a smaller spot size to write smaller pits.
In a DVD-R, the addressing (the determination of location of the laser beam on the disc) is done with additional pits and lands (called land pre-pits) in the areas between the grooves. The groove on a DVD-R disc has a constant wobble frequency used for motor control etc.
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