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Holographic Storage Crams in 0.5TB Per Square Inch 288

An anonymous reader writes "VNUNet is reporting that a company called InPhase Technologies claims they have successfully recorded 515GB of data per square inch to capture the record for highest data density. From the article: 'InPhase promised to begin shipping the first holographic drive and media later this year. The first generation drive has a capacity of 300GB on a single disk with a 20Mbps transfer rate. The first product will be followed by a family ranging from 800GB to 1.6TB capacity.'"
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Holographic Storage Crams in 0.5TB Per Square Inch

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  • BUT (Score:4, Funny)

    by mboverload ( 657893 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:38PM (#15015497) Journal
    can it hold my pr0n collection?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'm sure this caller (WMV) [] (WMV [], QT [], Flash []) has the same need for his image/video clip collection!
  • by Hao Wu ( 652581 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:39PM (#15015504) Homepage
    Thus pulling ahead of bandwidth issues - it is once again faster to send data by the US Postal Service, considering stuff in terabyte units.

    • "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway."
      ~ Andrew Tanenbaum

      ...or whatever the exact quote is, as I couldn't find a reliable source for it.
    • Not at 20Mbps (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bigtrike ( 904535 )
      At the data transfer rate of 20Mbps, you would most likely be better off sending it over the network.
      • Re:Not at 20Mbps (Score:5, Informative)

        by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @12:43AM (#15015774) Homepage
        I noticed that too, and I suspect the author meant MB/s, which is supported by the actual press release []:
        The first generation drive has a capacity of 300 gigabytes on a single disk with a 20 megabyte per second transfer rate.

        The write transfer rate is determined by the time required to position the laser at the correct angular address, the speed of the shutter, the laser power, and the exposure time. In this demonstration the average exposure time per page was 2.7 milliseconds, which translates into a user write transfer rate of 23 megabytes per second.
        • Well, I bet someone just wrote their last public release for that company....

          Who advertises transfer rates in bytes/sec??? After all, it would be much more impressive to state their drive transfers 200 megabits/sec... They could even ambigiously just write "mb' to further stun readers...

          And I wonder if "mega" here means 2^20 or 10^6. The latter is an often-used cheap way of increasing statistics by 5%....
  • by BigZaphod ( 12942 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:41PM (#15015512) Homepage
    It will be based around PSTP: Postal Storage Transport Protocol. Mailmen will deliver holographic boxes to your door which plug into your local network delivering you that day's version of the entire Internet... No more IP address shortage, bandwidth problems, or ISPs to deal with. Ah yes.. it makes perfect sense!
  • Data Rate? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by a_midgett ( 524951 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:43PM (#15015524) Homepage
    300GB capacity at 20Mbps... Can someone check the math on that? I'm thinking overnight backups aren't even going to be possible.
    • IBM can do it faster (Score:4, Interesting)

      by r_jensen11 ( 598210 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:49PM (#15015545) html []:

      For high output data rate, one must read holograms with many pixels per page in a reasonably short time. To read a megapixel hologram in about 1 ms with reasonable laser power and to have enough signal at the detector for low error rate, a diffraction efficiency around eta = 3 × 105 is required. To write such a hologram in 1 ms, to achieve input and output data rates of 1 Gb/s, the sensitivity for this example must be at least S'eta2 = 20 cm2/J.

      ...And earlier on:
      Since this hologram was retrieved using a readout pulse of 1 ms, this experiment implements the optical signal (but not the subsequent fast electronic readout) of a system with a readout rate of 1 Gb/s.

    • Re:Data Rate? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by arodland ( 127775 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:55PM (#15015575)
      Well, either TFA contains a typo and it actually meant 20MB/s, which is acceptable, or their prototype is significantly slower than both CD and DVD. Which is a possibility, but I don't think they'd even be working on this unless they thought it could be sped up significantly.
      • Re:Data Rate? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Hektor_Troy ( 262592 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @12:32AM (#15015727)
        From the InPhase press release []:
        InPhase will be the first company to deliver a holographic product for professional archive applications in late 2006. The media for this product will be offered through its strategic partner Hitachi Maxell Ltd. The initial InPhase Tapestry holographic recording device will record 300 gigabytes (GB) of data onto a 130 mm disc with a transfer rate of 20 megabytes per second (MB/s). This is compatible with high-definition television transmission rates, and high-end enterprise computer applications.
    • 4.2 hours to dupe a drive (the article is wrong; it's 20MByte/sec)
  • by wjcofkc ( 964165 )
    So does this effectively end the subject of blue ray vs. HDDVD as the standard for the comming years or what?
    • by YU Nicks NE Way ( 129084 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:49PM (#15015546)
      Not really. BluRay and HD-DVD discs can be mass produced in R/O form. This won't be a replacement for either of those technologies unless it's possible to create multi-million impression runs on an assembly line -- which it currently isn't.
      • It could mean that the HD formats have trouble taking off as a standard PC drive. Personally I hope we do get a large volume DRM-free format.

        There was a time when DVD's were useful for HD backups. I think with the capacity of the HD formats, they are too little, too late.

  • by ip_freely_2000 ( 577249 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:44PM (#15015530)
    I guess we'll be ready when Professor Moriarty and the Countess Regina Bartholomew want to explore the galazy.

    I think it's so sad that I remember that episode and even the name of a minor character.
  • no details (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:46PM (#15015533) Homepage Journal
    I was looking for some details on the storage mechanism and specifications of data decay, reliability and such, I didn't see anything on that. Will normal error correction be sufficient for such a device, or does it make sense to use the same disk to write every bit of data onto it more than once in different locations, say 3 times alltogether and when reading, compare the bits and chose the value that happens at least 2/3 times? Will data decay on this media any faster or any slower than on a normal magnetic disk?
    • Re:no details (Score:3, Insightful)

      by failedlogic ( 627314 )
      I'm not going to speculate on your reliability questions, but I have to wonder, other than HDDs, what other affordable storage medium is there for several hundred GBs for SOHO or personal use.

      For these purposes DVDs are less and less practical (reliability, access speed, finding the DVD the data was written to). Tape back ups are less practical and for personal use are a more expensive solution (the hardware cost anyways). I have a pile of DVDs and most are just duplicates of the same data for redundancy.

      • depends on what you mean by affordable?

        This is quite affordable for the problem at hand. [] but then again, it is not affordable by everyone's standards.
    • I was looking for some details on the storage mechanism

      Click on the link to InPhase Technologies, click on their press releases... hey, there it is! Looks to me like they're trying to use CD/DVD-like discs to provide backwards compatibility. As for longevity of the medium, their web site seems to indicate they're still perfecting that part of the technology. 4000.html []

      "Holographic storage is a revolutionary departure from all existing recording methods becaus
    • Re:no details (Score:3, Informative)

      by slughead ( 592713 )
      According to this [] video, the media can be stored for 50 years, and it also looks more like a replacement for tape backups than hard drives at this point.

      Coupled with this [] article, which says that it's "10 times faster than a normal DVD burner (whatever that means)," and holds about 300GB (278 GBytes formatted) it's clear that they're aiming for removable media.

      Apparently each 300GB disk is about the size of a DVD (but thicker due to it having it's own little shell, like a floppy/zip/mini disk). Just like al
    • Hm.

      Actually, being that it's hologrammatic data, if one bit fails, will they all fail?
    • Re:no details (Score:3, Informative)

      by hqm ( 49964 )
      Your question is really backwards ; the idea of writing the same data to two or three places is just a very crude form of the "normal error correction" you refer to. "normal error correction" on CDs is implemented by cross-interleaved Reed-Solomon data encoding. It is far far more efficient than simply duplicating the data several times.

      If you can describe the error model of the medium, that is what types of errors are likely to occur (random dropouts, scratches which cause burst errors), you can then lay o
  • by syntaxglitch ( 889367 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:46PM (#15015535)
    Well, it really doesn't. The only people who NEED terabytes or more can already afford that much in hard drives. But that's mostly what the summary mentions. That and data density by physical size... which isn't really that important.

    What I want to know is, how does this technology stack up against hard drives or other existing technologies on issues like
    - Data read speed
    - Data write speed
    - Power consumption
    - Heat and/or noise
    - Size and complexity of read/write mechanism
    - Resistance to physical damage
    - Rate of data decay

    ...and so on. Those areas are where advances could REALLY make a difference.
    • Dunno about the others, but TFA claims "20 Mbps transfer speed", which would be about 40x slower than an average HDD.

      From what little I know [] about holographic storage, write speeds are a lot slower than read speeds. Though if it could actually read at 160 MB/s like this article [] claims, why didn't they say that?

      • Re:Transfer speed (Score:3, Informative)

        by Fordiman ( 689627 ) *
        I think it's just the new higher 'resolution' technology that's presently limited to 20MB/s.

        The older stuff that got something like 200G/in^2 had a much faster transfer rate, but lower density.

        It's all due to the electronic end, really. The laser picks up the data at 1G/s, but the electronics take much longer to send it out to whatever bus reads it.
    • by sinewalker ( 686056 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @12:32AM (#15015730) Homepage
      “640KB ought to be enough for everybody”alleggedly said [] by Bill Gates, 1981
      You can never have too much storage capacity. I think that a portable USB holostorage device [] with about a terabyte or two would suit many people nicely just for carying around their photos and MP3 collections, home movies and recorded video conferences... ;-)

      But appart from that, these are sensible questions, and the TFA doesn't say anything to answer them. There's a good /. comment [] further down with better information.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's not the people who NEED it, it's the people who NEED it but don't realize they need it.

      All the people with digitized photo collections, DV cam home videos, downloaded stuff, ripped music, etc. All of these people should be backing up and archiving but most of them either don't know or don't care.

      Most people don't want to be their own IT department with managed backups and retention policies and offsite rotated storage. On the other hand, if you ask them how much value they have in photos or music, ma
    • The only people who NEED terabytes or more can already afford that much in hard drives.

      Well, I don't NEED terabytes of storage, but I can think of a lot of things I'd LIKE to do with it if I had it. And for most of the applications I have in mind, high throughput isn't a major issue, and if this turns out to be cheaper than hard drives and offers the advantage of removable media, I'm all over it.

      I don't need a computer in the first place. But I have spent many thousands of dollars over the years because I w
    • The only people who NEED terabytes or more can already afford that much in hard drives.

      Who cares about the people who 'need' it? I more interested in the people who would use it if it were cheap enough. That's where the fun stuff in computing occurs.

      Acutually, this would make a good backup for consumer video, which is already problematic in terms of cost/robustness.
  • by eweu ( 213081 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:46PM (#15015536)
    OK, 515 GB per square inch, and the first product will be a 300 GB single disk. So that disk is less than a square inch? Sweet! And you thought the iPod flea was a joke...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:48PM (#15015542)
    Sounds slow:

        > 20Mbps transfer rate

    which equals about 2.5 MBps (megabytes per second). It would take about 8 days to read a whole 1.6 GB disk ...hopefully writes arent slower

    And the density sounds like half a terabit, not terabyte:

        > after successfully recording 515Gb of data per square inch.

        > In April 2005 we demonstrated 200 Gb/in data density

    • It sounds slow even if they DID mean MB/s. When you're dealing with one quantity measured in giga* and one in mega*, a factor of eight isn't really a HUGE issue.
    • by aaronl ( 43811 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @12:20AM (#15015675) Homepage
      You *really* must have meant 1.6 *TB* instead of GB. Then your numbers would make sense.

      1.6 GB * 8 * 1024 = 131107.2 Mb - megabits in 1.6 gigabytes
      131107.2 Mb / 20 Mbps = 655.36 s - seconds to read at 20 megabit per second
      655.36 s / 60 s = 10.92 min - convert to minutes

      At 20Mbps, it would take you 4.855 days to read a terabyte, which is pitiful for local storage. (1.6TB would be 7.77 days, or the almost 8 days in the parent post.) Even at 20MBps, that is still 14.56 hours for 1 TB, which is far too slow.

      This might work as a backup medium for archiving, as long as it was suposed to be 20 megabyte/s instead of megabit. Many tape systems are right around the 20MBps mark, however there are solutions out there that archive over 100MBps.
  • Square or Cubic? (Score:2, Insightful)

    "...successfully recorded 515GB of data per square inch..."

    Erm... doesn't Holographic imply three dimensions? Wouldn't it be cubic inch?
    • > Erm... doesn't Holographic imply three dimensions? Wouldn't it be cubic inch?

      It's in "thre dimensions" but it is on the surface of a platter, just like the hard drives of today. We aren't talking a "cube" of storage.
    • My brain automatically put "cubic" in place while I was reading it, but you're right. From reading the article, if I understand correctly (it's light on details), they do mean SQUARE inch, with a thickness of 1.5mm.

      I think it comes out to something like 500Gb per cubic centimeter. But I'm not sure.
    • here I thought I was the only one who thought of that. The whole "per square inch" thing really only counts in terms of 2-dimensional media. Which brings up the question, How many bits/square inch does this give? That is, how much per square inch, single layer? And just how many layers does this employ?
      • That is, how much per square inch, single layer? And just how many layers does this employ?

        Here's a brilliant idea: Maybe somewhere in the summary, Slashdot could include an easy way to get more information about the story... say, with a hyperlink [] to a webpage. Then people would have an easy way to find answers to questions they may have that aren't covered by the one paragraph summary. For instance, people could then read the news article that mentions that "In this demonstration there were over 1.3 mill
  • by EvilNight ( 11001 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @11:56PM (#15015578)
    Dear InPhase, please STFU and ship this shit already. This is the 1000th pointless article I've seen about this on the last two (is it three now?) years and I'm getting tired of hearing about it. I've got data that needs backing up, and whoever comes out with a 50+GB/item WORM non-tape media first is going to get my cash. At this point I use hard drives to back up instead of tapes because they cost far less per GB than the damn tapes do.
  • Square inches? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Pedrito ( 94783 )
    If it's holographic, aren't you more concerned with how much data per cubic inch? I mean, per square inch kind of loses meaning at that point, doesn't it?

    And why is 1.6TB the largest they're offering? 3 square inches of recording surface? A 5.25" drive gives what, about 70-80 square inches of recording surface? Give me a 40TB drive for the price of a 500GB hard drive. That'll be worth something to me, otherwise I'll just stick with standard hard drives. They're cheap and fast.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      A 5.25" drive gives what, about 70-80 square inches of recording surface?
      I don't know who taught you math, but they should be shot.
      • Assuming it's not a circular disk, like everything is, and assuming there is no reading/writing mechanism, 5.25 * 5.25 * 2 sides = 55.125sq inches. Still off, but not by as much.
    • A 5.25-inch disk has a radius of 2.625 inches. The area of the disk is thus 21.65 square inches (remember A=pi × r^2). Even using both sides, that's just 42.3 square inches.
    • If it's holographic, aren't you more concerned with how much data per cubic inch? I mean, per square inch kind of loses meaning at that point, doesn't it?

      Only if you have a way to focus your laser at an arbitrary depth. However, if a standard-size disc makes it possible to store thousands of gigabytes of data on a flat disc, then the question of three-dimensional storage is nearly moot. The cost of making a storage drive that can focus a laser in a three-dimensional medium is probably much higher than the c
    • I can fit 515GB in a square inch.

      As long as you let me stack my 1 square inch black and white tiles high enough...

      *fetches ladder*
  • anyone remember C3D? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Polymorph2000 ( 166850 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @12:01AM (#15015598) Homepage
    More promises, no product move along.

    Back in 2000 or 2001 slashdot had a story about a company called C3D (or CDDD which was their stock ticker, website was []). This company promised 1TB and higher density discs with insane transfer speeds because it was 3D. They showed a few discs (CD sized) and a reader which were supposedly a prototype of some sort at trade shows. All of this ran their stock up quite a bit. They were promised to replace DVD's in a few years, and eventually hard drives. There was also this credit card device (10gigs) which was rewritable (?), which was to replace traditional hard drives in notebooks.

    Deadline after deadline passed, the stock slowly declined ($60 a share was the norm in 2000) due to the market conditions in 2001, eventually causing it to be delisted from the NASDAQ (has a value of $0.01 a share). Rumor has it that the company was founded/owned/something by a former Israeli/Soviet general (the company wasn't located in the US), and that there never was a product (all demos were faked).

    How do I know this? I was the fool who bought the stock when it was $20 a share, watched it rise up to $66, and fall to nothing. I believed before and it cost me a decent amount of money.

    Holographic media has been a scam before and it'll be one until there is a box with a price tag in a store. Even then, I would be cautious about buying it.
  • But it moooves (Score:4, Insightful)

    by akheron01 ( 637033 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @12:04AM (#15015614) Homepage
    Bah, the future of storage is solid state. More reliable, nil seek time, more energy efficient, 'nuf said? I'm sick of optical disks, it was sort of sad that we went from durable plastic cartridges to optical media that gets scratched up to the point of data loss within weeks of normal use. I really wish we had gone with Zip style disks for this current (and now drawing to a close) era in removable media.
    • we went from durable plastic cartridges to optical media that gets scratched up to the point of data loss within weeks of normal use
      Sorry to get off-topic, but what on earth are you doing with your CD/DVD media which leads to data loss within weeks?!??

      Maybe you should buy some of these things []. They aren't very expensive.

      • It was a bit of a hyperbole but I have seen CDs get scratched up from stupid things, like having someone apply a little weight to one while it was in a paper sleeve and then adding a lot of torsion. Left little scratches all across it. Do you remember the old CD drives with the CD cartridge? A much better solution IMO.
  • by Hellasboy ( 120979 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @12:13AM (#15015650)
    There's a lot of talk about how slow it is, how it doesn't contain that much data especially compared with one of those 500 gigabyte hard drives... etc etc etc

    First, this is one "plate" compared with 5 plates of the 500 gig hard drives.

    Second, this is a first generation product. The first CD-Rom was incredibly slow. The first DVD-Rom was incredibly slow. The first 3.5" hard drive was incredibly slow. See a pattern? This is probably going to be marketed toward those industries that use DAT tapes. As they incur most of the initial costs, the technology will improve, densities will increase and costs will fall. Is there anyone paying 400$ for a 2X CD-recorder nowadays?

    Plus, these aren't being sold to consumers until 2008 which is a good decision because it allows the technology to mature.

    Will these replace hard drives? In my opinion, not until 2011, sometime around there. That's when perpendicular hard drives (+ onboard flash) will reach maximum density compared with cost and holographic drives will dip under the HD price point. Considering that the industry is moving toward 2.5" HD drives as a replacement for 3.5" HD drives, holographic storage (let's start a new acronym: HS) will offer even more storage on a technology that should be hitting full stride at that point.

    But this depends on HS random access times and how the research is heading toward flash memory. Flash Storage might be a competitor to HS around then.
  • by imidan ( 559239 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @12:22AM (#15015685)
    From TFA:
    InPhase Technologies claims to have broken the record for the highest data density of any commercial storage technology after successfully recording 515Gb of data per square inch.
    Though the headline on the article claims 0.5TB, it seems that the more likely figure is 0.5Tb.
  • by iammaxus ( 683241 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @12:25AM (#15015699)
    With a 300GB capacity and 20Mbps tansfer rate, it would take 34 hours to read or write a single disk. Assuming they made a mistake in the transfer rate and its actually 20MBps (possible though unlikely considering HD-DVD drives are shipping with 35mbps, or ~4MBps rates), it would still take ~4 hours to transfer a disc. I can burn a 700MB CD in 5 minutes, and a 4.7GB DVD in 25 minutes.
    • uhm, 300GB != 700MB

      It might take you 5 minutes to burn a 700MB CD, but how long does it take to burn 500 or so, and how much would that cost you? How would the storage of 500 CDs affect you? How long and how much would it cost for 1x CDs and drives back 8 years or so ago?

      Your comparison to a 700MB CD is totally pointless.
    • 1) It is 20 MBytes/sec
      2) 4.7 gig / 25 minutes = 3 MB/sec
      3) 700 meg / 5 minutes = 2 MB/sec

      So, it's about 7 - 10 times faster than writing to optical media. What's your point?

      Even assuming it 20 Megabit, which it's not, it'd still be comperable to CD/DVD. ...And the "4 hours to write the entire drive!?" complaint is rather silly. Have you ever tried transfering 300 gig on a modern harddrive? It's within 1 order of magnitude of 20 MB/sec.
  • file finding (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mgabrys_sf ( 951552 )
    File management on a terabyte plus drive will be a breeze to boot (to coin a phrase).

    I imagine the "find" option in Windows will have no problem nor will Spotlight. And those wonderful desktop search tools will just FLY indexing a terabyte. No sweat.

    That or I'll lose 6 out of 8 hours either organizing or just searching for 2k in 2,000 gigs / 2,000,000 mbs / 2,000,000,000 kbs.

    Can't wait. Or we can all wait for that wonderful file system that's yet to come.

    - on that note a serious question -

    WTF happened to "t
  • by nmos ( 25822 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @12:29AM (#15015719)
    OK, now that we've had our magical holographic storage story for the year maybe it's time to move on to a story about a super parallel computer using FPGAS.
  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @01:43AM (#15015934) Homepage
    As the subject line says, I'm very very worried. I mean this from a "1984" standpoint.

    We've already read stories about how our past activities on the Internet (news groups, blogs...etc) can catch up with our future in a very bad way. With storage getting cheap and more abundant, I fear that giant archives of public data will be collected daily and stored for hundreds of years...all ready to be pulled for review later. Any place, at any moment, digital video of you recorded in public can be data-mined using facial feature algorithms to track your history of where you went, when, and for how long.

    While such technology will certainly be available in the UK, there is nothing against US law from preventing it happening here. Homeland Security, Patriot Act...bla bla bla. It's just a matter of time when terabytes are cents on the dollar.
  • by hoggoth ( 414195 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @01:49AM (#15015947) Journal
    This sounds amazing!
    I'll be installing one of these in the dashboard of my flying car later this year when they both come out.

    By the way, my car runs on cold fusion.
    And the in-dash computer plays Duke Nukem Forever.

  • That's less than 3x the cable speed. Will definitely need to improve on transfer speeds, or else when the internet where capacity is limitless and takes up no space at all, will look much more appealing.
  • Some day (Score:2, Funny)

    by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
    something will knock them in the head and they'll realise that they can not only make huge disks the majority of consumers can't fill (yet) but they can also make smaller disks... :P
  • by smchris ( 464899 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @07:53AM (#15016893)
    What respectable holographic storage is measured in square inches?

    Where's my data cube?
  • Transfer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AviLazar ( 741826 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @11:02AM (#15017660) Journal
    20 MBPs? That is really really really weak for any kind of enterprise level...even for backing up files that is weak....At 1.6 TB it would take a HELL of a long time to back-up all that data....generally companies, when they backup, want to be able to do it nightly within an hour or two. Obviously live back-ups can occur, but that is not as neat.

I came, I saw, I deleted all your files.