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CD-ROM Extended Architecture (CD-ROM XA)
Finding the existing CD audio and CD data specifications too restricting, a new format called CD-ROM Extended Architecture or CD-ROM XA was developed by Philips, Sony and Microsoft. This format builds on the existing data CD standard and is considered an extension to the original "yellow book" format.
Disks that use CD-ROM XA can mix standard data CD mode 1 and mode 2 tracks, allowing the mixing of standard data along with other types of data. The mode 2 tracks are further divided into two types: Form 1 and Form 2. Between all these different formats and modes, CD-ROM XA disks can store data, audio, compressed audio, video, compressed video, graphics and others. The mixing together of these different types of information is called interleaving (which is a term used in other contexts in the computer world as well, such as memory technology).
Using CD-ROM XA disks usually requires a drive specifically certified to be capable of reading the CD-ROM XA format. In many cases these disks include compressed audio or video and often, drives capable of reading them will include hardware decoders to allow on-the-fly decompression of the data. The drive must also know how to handle the different data formats on the disk, of course.
Next: "Bridge" CDs