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1 Terabyte Optical Storage Disks 266

fenimor writes "Physicists at Imperial College London described a new method for potentially encoding and storing up to one Terabyte of data, or 472 hours of film, on one optical disk the size of a CD or DVD. Maybe it won't be as large, as 100TB holographic optical storage, but still should be enough to fit every episode of The Simpsons on one disk. Dr Török, Lecturer in the Department of Physics, believes that the first disks could be on the shelves between 2010 and 2015."
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1 Terabyte Optical Storage Disks

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  • by Power Everywhere ( 778645 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:37AM (#10362915) Homepage
    1,000 gigabytes of data and the only application you can think of is the Simpsons?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:39AM (#10362940)
      Can't wait. I'll finally be able to fit my entire pr0n collection in one suitcase.
    • by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:50AM (#10363061) Journal
      Well, There's "Family Guy" too....
      • Yeah, yeah, it's a joke, but every show plus the never-aired "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein" fits on 7 dual layer DVDs. Think bigger.

        If only you did need 1 terabyte to store Family Guy...damn cancellation.
    • I'd have to agree. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by WebCowboy ( 196209 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @12:03PM (#10363217)
      What a shameful waste of technology. All those flat, vast expanses of yellow skintone and blue hair that are Homer's abdomen and Marge's hair? Anybody who watches the Simpsons ought to recognise how compressible such simple artwork is. Add that to the fact that most TV animation is "shot on twos" so it is largely 12 or 15 frames per second anyways.

      Come to think of it, properly compressed one such disk could probably store the complete works of the Simpsons, Futurama AND South Park and have room to spare--without noticeable degredation in picture and sound quality.

      Lets use our imaginations--with high-density storage like this, consumer-grade equiment of the future could store amazing virtual worlds right down to the last twig and blade of grass...
      • I actually just got to watch the DVD of Happy Tree Friends, which is originally a flash web cartoon series. There's over 2 hours of disgusting violence, but they managed to fit it down to 4.0 GB because the animation was around 5-10 fps. Thus, they were able to retain a lot of quality with a low bitrate.

        (I know MPEG streams can only go down to about 24 fps, it's all about frame type orders and using a lot of the type that repeat frames)
  • by coupland ( 160334 ) * <> on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:38AM (#10362916) Journal

    >the first disks could be on the shelves between 2010 and 2015.

    Which means EB Games should start taking pre-orders right about now...

    I keed, I keed....

    • by Null537 ( 772236 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:48AM (#10363042)
      And their listed release date is Feb. '05
    • But they'll have an "Anticipated Ship Date" of next year =/
  • wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by diggum ( 769740 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:39AM (#10362930) Homepage
    So with this technology, we could get the complete, directors cut version of each of the Lord of the Rings movies onto 3 disks? Awesome!
  • by TrueKonrads ( 580974 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:39AM (#10362941)
    For Duke Nukem Forever release...
  • Weaseling (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:40AM (#10362944)
    ...storing up to one Terabyte of data, or 472 hours of film, on one optical disk the size of a CD or DVD. Maybe it won't be as large, as 100TB holographic optical storage...

    "Maybe"? Really, now - I think you can confidently commit yourself to the proposition that 100 > 1...

  • by havock ( 42287 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:41AM (#10362950)
    Once the physicists give their product to the DVD Forum/Alliance, we can expect uncompatible competing formats to delay wide adoption of this technology for the next 7 years after it is launched.... so goes life.
  • by jakuis ( 816654 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:41AM (#10362952)
    ...should be enough to fit every episode of The Simpsons on one disk.

    How appropriate. I can already hear anti-piracy people say D'oh!
    • Re:How appropriate (Score:5, Insightful)

      by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:52AM (#10363083) Journal
      Well, the article doesn't state that there's a recordable version. Indeed, given that it relies on not just the size, but on fine details of the pits, I could imagine that making a recordable version of that quite hard at the least.
    • Re:How appropriate (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ubergrendle ( 531719 )
      Seriously, once you can start getting 10 seasons of DVD quality material onto one single disc, it ~really~ puts things in perspective. I see two good things coming out of this:

      1. Licensing non-sense for legacy audio-visual media goes away. Napster/Gnutella is a 60lb weakling compared to the Gorilla of 1 terrabyte optical storage. At today's prices, it makes sense for me to fly from Toronto to California, burn a few TV series of shows onto a disc, and fly back home -- it would be cheaper. Also, broadcast T
      • Re:How appropriate (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ivan256 ( 17499 ) *
        No one will be buying season 1 of The Simpsons when they can buy FAMILY GUY 3D in HDTV2.

        Just like nobody buys old black and white movies anymore?

        Also, broadcast TV really beings to lose its luster when I have 20,000 hrs of video sitting on its shelf at home. I have 500 channels today, and its 99% garbage. I'd be much better off buying the shows i like in a static format, but the price point isn't quite there yet.

        Theoretically, it should never be there. Broadcasting should always be cheaper than distri
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:41AM (#10362961)
    Just thought I'd nitpick, but at 10-bit log depth, 4k academy aperture scans of 35mm motion picture film (which is about the standard now for digital postproduction), 1TB will only hold about 13 minutes of footage!
    At 2k, it's a much lengthier 55 minutes or so :)

    Saying things like 472 hours of video is fairly meaningless without saying what KIND of video.
    • by imsabbel ( 611519 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:50AM (#10363065)
      I dont think you can really take a 4k scan for face value. Not even good slrs with very good lenses and the best films available can really get 4k usable resolution on a 35mm film.
      And somehow i dont think a film camera doing 24fps can archive the same quality.
      Yes, you can scan it with that resolution, but you could scan it with 16k, too. There is just no (or little) more information in your 4k scan than in a 2k scan.
      I know you are nitpicking, but you could also claim that 3d is mission, what about ir und uv, ectect.
      • But both lens and sensor quality (and at a slower pace, film quality) are improving. 2k or 3k makes sense now; in ten years, 4k will be very reasonable.

        This 1TB number is truly unimpressive. It serves more as a reminder that (2D) optical has a limited future due to nasty things like wavelength, rather than as a technology to lust over.
      • I used to make 35mm slides with a computer controlled slide writer. We wrote slides to film at 4k resolution, and only used the low quality 2k setting for rush jobs - the difference was clearly visible on all but the very worst office slide projectors. When I got out of the business, 8k and even 16k writers were not unusual, and the improvement was noticeable, so scanning at 4k will indeed provide a lot of useful information from certain film types that 2k will not show.
    • Or one 524288 x 524288 @ 32 bpp frame, uncompressed.
    • by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:53AM (#10363096) Journal
      472 hours is nothing.
      It's 233,256,223 hours of fun if you just start scrolling through the 1s and 0s.
    • "Saying things like 472 hours of video is fairly meaningless without saying what KIND of video."

      That's why we here at slashdot usually use real units, like Libraries of Congress. The editor must have messed up.

    • 4K isn't really the standard for digital post. It's the "standard" for digital mastering, if something as new and rare as digital mastering can be said to have any standard anythings.

      For digital post, it's 2K --2048x1556.
  • krrraazzy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by blooba ( 792259 )
    it's just getting ridiculous. i think we all grossly underestimate both the tech we will soon have, and how soon we will have it. i sure do. my feeble imagination is boggled.
    • Don't worry, they'll have a shelf life of 3 years by technology and 2 years by design. And I base that on nothing whatsoever.
      Doesn't make me wrong though ;-).
  • Disc, not Disk (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:45AM (#10363005)
    When you're speaking of a circular optical media, it's called a Disc, not a Disk.

    Hence Compact Disc, Digital Versatile Disc.
  • From TFA...

    Physicists at Imperial College London are developing a new optical disk with so much storage capacity that every episode of The Simpsons made could fit on just one. Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Data Storage Conference 2004 in Taiwan today, Dr Peter Török, Lecturer in Photonics in the Department of Physics, will describe a new method for potentially encoding and storing up to one Terabyte (1,000 Gigabytes) of data, or 472 hours of film, on one optical disk the size of a CD or DVD.

  • by kirkb ( 158552 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:48AM (#10363044) Homepage
    Simpsons episodes? I thought that the accepted unit of measurement for storage devices was "libraries of congress"?
    • by shut_up_man ( 450725 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @12:14PM (#10363332) Homepage
      I believe the a more practical unit of measurement is the "collected works of Jenna Jameson".
      • (

        I believe the a more practical unit of measurement is the "collected works of Jenna Jameson".

        Well, two observations.

        1. Your website is really damned funny in this context.

        2. Does this metric you propose include her comps?
      • I believe the a more practical unit of measurement is the "collected works of Jenna Jameson".

        Because it grows at about the same rate as hard drive space?
    • by mikael ( 484 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @12:29PM (#10363481)
      You need this handy table of International Units of Measurements:

      Height of small objects: Pepsi/Coke cans

      Height of medium objects: Two storey family home

      Height of large buildings and astronomical objects: Statues of Liberties or Taj Mahal's

      Volume of medium-sized objects: Ford pickup truck/Indian bull elephant

      Volume of large objects: Superbowl stadium/Oil tanker

      Volume of extremely large objects: Planet Earth

      Slow speed objects: Garden snail

      Medium speed objects: Grand Prix racing car

      High speed objects: Artillery shell/Rifle bullet

      Most if not all of these objects can be found around or near the typical family dwelling home.

  • Well, (Score:5, Funny)

    by hartba ( 715804 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:48AM (#10363045)
    Would that be every episode of the Simpons from inception to today or until the release date in 2015, and exactly how many epsiodes with that consist of? Would I be able to store deleted scenes and commentaries? What if Matt Groening decides to convert some of the characters from earlier episodes to CGI, with the help of Stephen Speilberg and George Lucas? Could those fit as well? I need to know this or I'm not buying one.
    • Re:Well, (Score:3, Funny)

      by Luminari ( 689987 )
      • What if Matt Groening decides to convert some of the characters from earlier episodes to CGI, with the help of Stephen Speilberg and George Lucas?

      If George Lucas is involved then they will change it so Mr. Burns will have fired the first bullet when Maggie shoots him in the Who shot Mr. Burns episode.
      • Re:Well, (Score:3, Funny)

        by hartba ( 715804 )
        If Stephen Speilberg is involved, Maggie's gun would be replaced with a walkie-talkie and Mr. Burns would fly away on a bicyle.
  • cool. Enough time to allow me to rip all my CDs so I can listen to them in the fusion powered flying cars that will also come on the market ten years from now.
  • Who cares (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 3terrabyte ( 693824 )
    I fail to get excited over technology "announcements" that are years away and completely vaporware now.

    Blueray is the guaranteed next step up from DVD, and the consumers have yet to hold anything in their hands.

    Seems like a waste of article space on slashdot.

  • Who needs it? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jmcmunn ( 307798 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:49AM (#10363055)

    By then, I'm planning on the entire global computer network to be seemlessly linked and networked so that I no longer need to save it locally, or back it up to disk. Distributed storage will have a whole new meaning.

    That way, only one person has to have the entire Simpsons...or only one person has to have the pr0n if you prefer.

    I'm only kidding of course...but who's to say that 1TB is even going to be worth having in another 6 years? I expect to carry that in my pocket on a pen drive by then.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:50AM (#10363058)
    Damn, I just bought the Star Wars DVD collection and now Lucas is will get me to buy another format of Star Wars. When will it end!!
  • by bgeer ( 543504 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:50AM (#10363069)
    I'm kind of confused by these nonstandard units they're using here. How many Libraries of Congress can it hold, or better yet what's the unit ratio for Simpsons anthologies per human genome? TIA.
  • by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:50AM (#10363071)
    So Longorn SP2 will fit on 2 disks!

  • by craftyimp ( 472032 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:51AM (#10363076)
    A similar story was posted last month on slashdot. 4&tid=198&tid=1 []

    Optware -- the company claiming to have done this a month ago -- has a press release available at: []

  • by JUSTONEMORELATTE ( 584508 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:53AM (#10363101) Homepage
    There was a Dilbert strip long ago in which he returned to college. The professor introduced his class by presenting a complex diagram -- "This diagram explains why I'm an expert in economics, yet dress like a flood victim."

    Call me when it's out of the Uni and into a corporation's lab, then we can talk.
  • by ( 142825 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:53AM (#10363107) Homepage
    If there is that much storange on a disk, it will only be used by movie pirates. And if it gets into the hands of consumers, it will destroy the entire movie industry.

    They must get Congress to out law this. At the same time, maybe they should have copyrights extended to 200 years instead of the puny 75 years. 75 years is not enough time for the copyright holders to recoup their investments and 200 years will encourage the creative people to produce more creative works.

  • by mrshowtime ( 562809 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:54AM (#10363114)
    Seriously, by the time this mego-optical disk is ready, the Simpsons might actually all finally be released on DVD. They just released season 4 on DVD, and what, we're on season 15 now? Shit, if they did release all the episodes on one MEGA disc, it would cost damn near $1000, and it would be worth every penny. :)
  • Ooh! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Paster Of Muppets ( 787158 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:54AM (#10363127)

    Great! So this means I can store all the stuff I need to know for my degree on a disc that one of my lecturers in the department has developed? So if I set up a video camera at the back of the lecture theatre, set it to record...

    Say fifteen hours of lectures a week, for 25 weeks of lectures, that makes 375 hours of lectures this year... Should just do it.

    Ah, extensive lie-ins await.

    Yes, I study Physics at Imperial. Yes, Dr Torok is one of my lecturers. Yes, I should be posting this anonymously.

  • In 5 to 10 years? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @11:55AM (#10363130)
    Just about the same time when we should be getting our first flying cars!!!

    I'll be installing a Terabyte Disk player in the dashboard for sure!
  • So, expecting to fill such a disk on a home system, it would be a reasonable user requirement to expect to take a maximum of 30 minutes to fill the single-side, single-layer disk. That is 250GB in 30 minutes, or 138MB per second.

    That should keep your average desktop busy in 2010! And picture doing this over a LAN or WAN.


  • That's way more information than you can store on FMD-ROM []s!

    It's too bad Duke Nukem Forever is coming out before either, or it could fit on just one of these discs.

  • by ceeam ( 39911 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @12:00PM (#10363188)
    Wars and software piracy.


  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @12:02PM (#10363206)
    I've learned to completely discount all the "..researchers announce xxx {giga,tera}bytes on a DVD..." stories I've read here, simply because they've never become products or the timeline is so drawn out (2015???) that it's meaningless.

    The only products that appear likely to actually hit the market for real are Blu-Ray and its competitor, DVD-HD (which seems kind of dead in the water as a data storage standard due to its limited size and growth). Blu Ray appears to have some legs from what I've read, due to its layer growth capability.

    What's after that? Are there any storage standards backed by large consortiums coming after Blu Ray? Or is multi-layer blu ray supposed to be "good enough" until some of this lab stuff makes it to market in 2015?
  • During the last discussion about Star Wars DVD set sombody mentioned that the original featured a 15000 line resolution, I guess, the final edition which will consist the "shoot before Greedo FPS" will barely occupy one of these discs...
  • by perdu ( 549634 )
    Just don't leave one in a cab with all of your pictures on it, as we read in Why You Should Never Lose Your Digital Media []

  • Once USB drives reach 20-30GB for ten bucks or so, who's going to need a bigger optical format?

    Isn't the unit of storage the movie? Or the CD collection? Once I can put all of that on a hardware device for the cost of a cheeseburger, what the heck do I want to be carrying around disks for?
  • Longevity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bios_Hakr ( 68586 ) <> on Monday September 27, 2004 @12:11PM (#10363310)
    While I'm glad to see advances being made in storage media, I'd prefer to see these guys working to make a '100-year DVD+-R/RW'.

    After all, who wants to spend one week a year doing quality assurance on media. And even if you do QA, what if you find something is bad. While you can re-download your warez and pr0n, the photos and videos of your family vacation will be lost forever.
  • Great (Score:5, Funny)

    by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @12:14PM (#10363333) Homepage Journal
    Now I'll have to buy the White album again.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 27, 2004 @12:17PM (#10363368)
    If we assume the PAL resolution (768x576) using the NV12 pixel format (at an average of 12 bits per pixel), and PAL framerate (25Hz (50Hz when deinterlaced)), we get 16 588 800 bytes per second. At this rate, 1 TB (or 2^40 bytes) would give you 18 hours of video.

    Implying a compression ratio of 1:25 when talking about storage doesn't help the quality of the information.
  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @12:22PM (#10363409) Homepage
    ... using multiple step angles of a slope to set a value sounds to me suspiciously like they're heading in the direction of analogue recording which rather defeats the whole point of using pits as binary ones and zeros. Sure , using an analogue system you could head towards infinite data density but with increase in apparent storage so is there an increase in error rate. Fine for a music CD where the odd corrupt bit of data doesn't matter , perhaps more of a problem for DVDs but not a killer , but DEFINATELY a problem for data CDs/DVDs. I can't see this method catching on, its just too open to read errors , and as for writing data using a RW system (as opposed to pressing) , oh man....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 27, 2004 @12:24PM (#10363432)
    I think whenever an article adresses storage that is X years away, you can expect the following breakdown of jokes:

    65% pr0n jokes
    10% microsoft jokes
    10% star wars jokes
    8% duke nukem forever jokes
    5% white album jokes
    2% slashdot humor jokes

  • by Ironsides ( 739422 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @12:25PM (#10363445) Homepage Journal
    I remember several yars ago reading about a CD Burner that would be able to burn 5.6GBytes onto a regular CD. It used a gray-scale recording like they are talking about only it worked with existing CD-Rs you could buy in the store. Only difference here is they are using the existing DVD technology and a higher order modulation.
  • Dr. Torok? (Score:2, Funny)

    by JPamplin ( 804322 )
    I can think of two scenarios:

    1. Dr. Torok is vulcan and this is the first seeding of Vulcan technology (apart from the T'Pol grandmother selling velcro to Americans in the 1950's).

    2. Isn't Torok that caveman stuck in the futuristic jumping / FPS game? He's certainly progressed.

  • It will rather be used for extreme-HDTV: put 2 hours of video on it, with 10000x10000 pixels at 200 frames per second. That'll keep the p2p pirates busy for a while.
  • If one watches ten hours of TV a day for their entire life, that is about 250,000 hours. If you wanted new material every hour, and assuming PAL, then you'd need about 250 TB.

    Does anyone know the total amount of network and cable TV archives?
  • You know that wonderful zero-G nausea you get when you're about to make a backup of some irreplaceable data, and the drive tray slides shut before you have the disc seated correctly, and then the whole thing makes a horrible grinding noise?

    That's nothing compared to the feeling you'll get with 1TB discs.
  • mass storage (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Paralizer ( 792155 )
    I can see the value of such a storage device in the future, but for now, who needs this? I'm not trying to flame the technology, it's great that significant research is being conducted in this area, but what kinds of media are you putting on these disks? Software companies still ship their products on CD's (even if they span 5-6 discs) simply because it is cheaper than the higher capacity discs (ie DVD). The largest application I've ever seen was a X-File game that spanned 8 CD's, which would be somewher
  • Single standard... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pdjohe ( 575876 ) on Monday September 27, 2004 @02:31PM (#10364849)
    A single standard should be agreed on now for these new disks and not give companies the chance to make lots of different standards like the HD-DVD and blu-ray, DVD+R/-R, etc.etc. formats.

    Establish a single format and make everybody happy!

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.