Universal Media Disc
Media typeOptical disc
Capacity900 MB (single layer), 1.8 GB (dual layer)
Developed bySony
UsageGames, movies, music
ReleasedDecember 12, 2004; 19 years ago (2004-12-12)
UMD disc front

The Universal Media Disc (UMD) is a discontinued optical disc medium developed by Sony for use on its PlayStation Portable handheld gaming and multimedia platform. It can hold up to 1.8 gigabytes of data and is capable of storing video games, feature-length films, and music. UMD is the trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment for their optical disk cartridge (ODC).[1][2]

Video storage format

While the primary application for UMD discs is as a storage medium for PSP games, the format is also used for the storage of motion pictures and, to a lesser degree, television shows for playback on the PSP. The video is encoded in the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC format, with the audio in ATRAC3plus or PCM. Video stored on UMD is typically encoded in 720×480 resolution, but is scaled down when displayed on the PSP. To date there are around 1500 films released on UMD (around 1000 are common for all regions and around 500 are region exclusives). The American punk rock band The Offspring released their Complete Music Video Collection on the format.[3] The BBC released a number of its programmes on UMD in the UK, including The Office, The Mighty Boosh, Doctor Who and Little Britain. WWE also released some wrestler highlights and documentary content on UMD format, such as The Monday Night War, Jake "The Snake" Roberts: Pick Your Poison, and WWE Raw Homecoming (a special episode of WWE Raw celebrating the return to USA Network); the only WWE pay-per-view released on UMD format was WrestleMania XXIV.[4]

Tupac's performance, Live at the House of Blues, was also released on the UMD, which also included several music videos, including Hit 'Em Up.[5][6]

Some adult films have been released on UMD in Japan.[7]


ECMA-365: Data Interchange on 60 mm Read-Only ODC – Capacity: 1.8 GB (UMD)[1]

The case dimensions for UMD discs are 177×104×14mm.[8]


According to the official ECMA specification Sony designed the UMD to support two possible future enhancements and products.[1]

  1. Protective Shutter: Similar to the MiniDisc and 312-inch floppy disk, this protective shutter would shield the inner disc from accidental contact.
  2. Auto-Loading: UMDs were designed for possible future slot loading devices with Auto-Loading mechanisms. These would be very similar to the auto-loading mechanism used in slot loading MiniDisc home and car decks. It would also be similar to the Sony U-Matic auto-loading mechanism. Unlike the current clamshell loading design the PSP uses, a slot loading device using an Auto-Loading mechanism would be motorized and completely automatic. The user would insert the disc into the device slot, the motorized mechanism would then take over and draw the disc inside the drive completing the loading process. The disc would also be ejected fully automatically by the motorized mechanism, like a VCR. This would also mean that power would be required in order to insert or eject a disc.

Region coding

DVD region coding has been applied to most UMD movies and music. However, all PSP games are region-free, unless, some require pay-to-continue.

Availability and support

UMDs offer large capacity and the capability to store quality audio/video content; however, the format's proprietary nature and the lack of writers and blank media made adoption difficult. The UMD format never saw implementation on any device other than the PlayStation Portable, and as a result the market was very limited compared to those for other optical media formats. Buyers were generally put off by the high price of UMD releases, which often retailed at comparable prices to but lacked the extra content found on DVDs. Poor sales of UMD movies early in the format's life caused major studios like Universal and Paramount to rescind their support.[9][10] Retail support of the format experienced similar troubles, and in 2006 Wal-Mart began phasing out shelf space devoted to UMD movies, with other chains soon following suit. By 2006 most non-specialty retail stores had stopped bringing in new UMD movies and no longer had a separate section devoted to them, with a few stray unsold titles mixed in among the regular PSP games.[11]

In late 2009, Sony began pushing developers away from the UMD format and towards digital distribution on the PlayStation Network in preparation for the launch of the digital-download-only PSP Go, which was the first (and only) PSP model to not include a UMD drive.[12] However the system experienced lackluster sales compared to previous models, with most consumers still choosing the UMD-compatible PSP-3000 model, which continued to be sold alongside the PSP Go.[13][14] Despite the earlier push for PlayStation Network releases around the PSP Go's launch, over half of the PSP's library was only ever available in UMD format including Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, though there have been a few PlayStation Network–only releases since the PSP Go's launch, such as LocoRoco Midnight Carnival. Still, most new games continued to be distributed via UMD, and, aside from those published by SCE, not all have been released on PlayStation Network. In 2011, the PSP-E1000, a budget PSP model with a UMD slot but without Wi-Fi (and thus no internet connectivity), was released, and is the final revision of the PlayStation Portable.

Since 2011, there have been no more movies released on the UMD, after the PS Vita's release.

The successor of the PlayStation Portable, the PlayStation Vita, dropped the Universal Media Disc support in 2011, March 21 in move similar to the PSP Go's discontinuation, focusing instead on digital downloads and opting for low-profile flash-based media for its retail software. 2014 marked the discontinuation of the PlayStation Portable, which rendered UMDs are no longer available on the PSP, due to the Region Lock, which began in 2014, November 17.

UMD can be dumped into normal disc image files (.iso or .cso), using a cracked PSP for the optical drive. This file can be loaded by a cracked PSP or PS Vita from a MemoryStick, using a hacked version of the game download functionality. Sony are shutting down their online servers in 2019, January 18. They are also ending their Virtual Shop in 2022.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Ecma International (June 2005). "Data Interchange on 60 mm Read-Only ODC—Capacity: 1,8 Gbytes (UMD)" (PDF).
  2. ^ "Trademark Status & Document Retrieval". tsdr.uspto.gov. United States Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved 15 December 2023.
  3. ^ "The Offspring: Complete Music Video Collection [UMD for PSP] (2005)". Amazon. 8 November 2005. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  4. ^ "Someone Bought This: WWE + UMD + PSP = Not for me!". WrestleCrap. 28 June 2015. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  5. ^ "Tupac* - Live At The House Of Blues". Discogs. Retrieved 2020-02-21.
  6. ^ "Tupac - Live at the House of Blues (UMD Mini For PSP) (UMD, Region 1) - dvdloc8.com". dvdloc8.com. Retrieved 2020-02-21.
  7. ^ "PSP procures porn in Japan". GameSpot.com. June 2, 2005. Retrieved 2017-11-19.
  8. ^ "What is UMD Software? - Definition, Specifications, and More". Computer Tech Reviews. 2019-11-10. Retrieved 2020-02-27.
  9. ^ Arnold, Thomas K. (2006-03-30). "UMD losing H'wood game". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on April 1, 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-11.
  10. ^ Erickson, Kris (2008-08-15). "Sony Continues to Support UMD Format with New Pricing". GameFlavor. Archived from the original on 2012-10-30. Retrieved 2010-02-11.
  11. ^ "Wal-Mart to cease UMD movie sale". QJ.NET. 2006-03-30. Retrieved 2010-02-11.
  12. ^ "Sony PSP2 Rumors Bogus". The Business Insider. December 17, 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-27.
  13. ^ Moses, Asher (2009-10-20). "PSP Go a no-go as Sony struggles for sales". Fairfax Digital. Retrieved 2010-02-11.
  14. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (2009-11-02). "Enterbrain Shares PSP go First Day Sales". andriasang.com. Retrieved 2010-02-11.