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Holographic Storage a Reality in 2006? 214

vitaly.friedman writes "What do you do when you're getting close to the limits of 2-dimensional optical technology? Well, how many dimensions do we have to work with?" From the Ars Technica article: "How much greater data density? In the Hitachi Maxell device, a single disc about 1 cm larger in diameter than a CD will buy you 300GB. By way of contrast, HD-DVD currently offers a maximum of 30GB on a 2-layer disc, and Blu-ray tops out at 50GB. Although upgrades are in the works that promise to increase the capacity of both of those formats, even the most pie-in-the-sky predictions fall short of what is planned for merely the first commercial generation of holographic storage. Future plans for that medium include boosting the capacity to 800GB in two years, and 1.6TB per disc by 2010."
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Holographic Storage a Reality in 2006?

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  • by hummassa ( 157160 ) on Saturday August 05, 2006 @10:34AM (#15852114) Homepage Journal
    I want a disc with 1cm radius TOPS, with 4G+ of storage.
  • 1 CM larger? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by insanarchist ( 921436 ) on Saturday August 05, 2006 @10:35AM (#15852115)
    Wouldn't it make sense to keep it the same size so they can still use existing cd cases & so we don't have to buy new CD racks/holders? I mean, what's an extra ~50GB between friends? :p
    • Re:1 CM larger? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 05, 2006 @10:49AM (#15852165)
      The disc is thicker and might damage an ordinary cd/dvd drive if it is inserted by mistake. The larger diameter prevents this.
    • Re:1 CM larger? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by julesh ( 229690 ) on Saturday August 05, 2006 @11:31AM (#15852304)
      Not to mention the fact that one of the reasons CDs/DVDs are the size they are (12cm) because it's the widest that can fit in a standard 5 1/4" drive bay (about 14.5cm) with enough space left at the sides for a tray open/close mechanism. These new disks are the same size as a 5 1/4" disk (13cm), which leaves just enough space at the side for guide mechanisms. So we're going to have to push these disks in like floppies. Hope they're not susceptible to scratching.
      • Re:1 CM larger? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The reason CDs are 120 mm is because that size holds 74 minutes of 16-bit stereo audio. The original specification presented by Philips was 115 mm with 14-bit audio and 60 minutes of storage. However, Sony wanted the extra storage and audio quality (I presume they had a reason behind this -- perhaps the longest LP ever made was 74 minutes long?)
      • hmm, i have a inphase promo video on my machine.
        and there the "drive" is a big as two shuttle barebones end to end.

        by the looks of it, they have to move the disc in all kinds of directions to get a proper 3D write done.

        so my guess is that its not designed to fit in any normal pc drive bay at all.
        instead it will use a "rack" drive hooked up to a external scsi connection. and most likely able to interface with most existing backup systems so that you only have to disconnect and remove the old tape bot and put
        • Re:1 CM larger? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Sj0 ( 472011 ) on Saturday August 05, 2006 @02:37PM (#15852924) Journal
          First you make it work, THEN you make it small.

          If you try to get a new technology to exit the birthing process completely ready to sell, you're going to overwhelm your poor engineers.
          • true. so most likely the current version will never be found inside a desktop pc kinda box.
            yet, given that they have to move the very disc around (could maybe be handled by having two R/w heads i guess) indicates that it may take some time for them to shrink it down to a device that can fit inside a 5.25" bay...
      • I don't want larger Discs. It might just be me, but I'm pretty hard on CDs (especially CDRs), DVDs, and what not, especially when I'm doing multiple things. I throw them on the desk, intending to find their cases, sleeves, what have you, but inevitably, they get covered with a printout, or book and get lost. In the cleaning spree inspired by the spilled *drink_of_choice*, I discover the media, covered in scratches, nigh unreadable except by something like CD-Paranoia.

        I like the Minidisc format. A lot.
        • You really abuse your media, don't you? I've had a CD that looked like it had been sandpapered (months in a box with PCBs, which have hundreds of sharp solder points), but I decided to pop it in a drive anyways and it read fine. I agree, Minidisc had the right idea - they wouldn't break too easily. But snapping the USB interface right off the drive? I don't think the laws of physics allow for you to do that by accident.

          If we could get something to fit in a 3.5" formfactor, it would be wonderful (especia
          • Firehed: I have no idea how I do it, but yes. If I keep stuff in their cases, it's fine. But once it hits the no-man's land that is my desk, bookshelf, whatever, it's good as toast. To be fair, I snapped the USB interface off because I had it in my pocket and crashed my bike and it snapped in my pocket. :)

            i don't like 3.5" because it's still not very pocketable. I like the minidiscs because they were at that pocket size. :) Maybe I just wear really tight jeans.
      • Guide mechanisms don't necessarily need to be on the sides of a sliding tray.
        Guide rods and inboard rails are two options that come to mind.
    • For one reason, it means you have to go out and buy more stuff... Its all about the money.

      A practical might be to prevent you from shoving the wrong disk in the wrong machine.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 05, 2006 @10:39AM (#15852133)

    your entire pr0n collection

  • A backup solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by laffer1 ( 701823 ) <luke AT foolishgames DOT com> on Saturday August 05, 2006 @10:40AM (#15852135) Homepage Journal
    Finally, some progress on a real backup solution. Backup storage has not kept up with hard drives. It would be nice to be able to backup one of the new seagate disks with 1 or 2 discs. When you consider businesses have terabytes of data now this is still a floppy in terms of capacity. Its a great start though.

    • by stubear ( 130454 ) on Saturday August 05, 2006 @10:59AM (#15852198)
      I was going to say the same thing. Storage isn't the problem these days, backing up extremely large hard drives or RAID arrays is. Not only that but access speeds are really becoming the greater bottleneck. Scanning through 100GB of photos can take a little while. I'd like to see companies work on faster indexing and file management. Microsoft, give us back the unified file storage in Vista damnit.
      • Re:A backup solution (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Saturday August 05, 2006 @11:32AM (#15852308) Homepage
        Actually I think storage IS still a problem today. Not necessarily the space for storage, but the durability of it.

        For example, my main concern with this new storage is that it will hold a ton, but will still only have the couple year shelf-life that DVD-Rs and CD-Rs have.

        As storage space increases but shelf-life lags behind, it becomes increasingly riskier to actually use that full amount of space because you're basically putting more of your chickens in one basket.

        Does anybody know of any current developments that are working to solve this issue? Is having a home server the best way to reliably store all those old CD-Rs?

        • Well, it's still better (both in handling and in safety) e.g. to have three copies of the same content, than three disks containing 1/3 of the content each.
        • Re:A backup solution (Score:3, Informative)

          by Tweekster ( 949766 )
          Well CD-rs and DVD-r have upwards of 4-8 years and counting for life. Those people that claim 1-2 years, they are full of shit.

          Sure if you leave it directly in the sun im sure it will degrade. If you put it in a case in a drawer, it will work just fine for atleast 5 years
          • Those people that claim 1-2 years, they are full of shit.

            No, some dirt-cheap CD-Rs that I used to have had a shelf life of about 2 years. Now, it's not fair to generalize that to CD-R media in general, but *some* discs I had definitely didn't last 5 years in a drawer.

          • Re:A backup solution (Score:3, Informative)

            by NeMon'ess ( 160583 ) *
            What media do you buy? It matters. I have Verbatim 650MB CD-Rs from 1999 and earlier that I just tested and are still good. I also have used Fry's "Great Quality" house brand discs that were so bad, the last 50MB or more were unreadable a few months later and so I didn't burn more than 600MB on them after I found that out. They're probably useless now except as coasters or inaccurate throwing projectiles. I use Taiyo Yuden DVD-Rs now and am completely satisfied. TY is considered the best media availab
          • by roystgnr ( 4015 ) <> on Saturday August 05, 2006 @10:50PM (#15854136) Homepage
            Well CD-rs and DVD-r have upwards of 4-8 years and counting for life. Those people that claim 1-2 years, they are full of shit.

            Or they've just bought the wrong batches of media. I have some CD-Rs (Memorex) that I burned in 1997 which are still perfectly readable. I have some other CD-Rs (a PNY spindle, I think) that started to show unrecoverable errors within months. Maybe some brand names are cheaper than others, but I've also had good discs from PNY, and I wouldn't be surprised if other people have encountered bad Memorexes.

            Sometimes when other people say something that sounds "full of shit", the problem is actually just that you think you know everything, and you're wrong.
        • you're basically putting more of your chickens in one basket.

          I put my chickens in baskets too.


          Biff Tannen

          P.S. Why don't make like a tree and get out of here?

          (It's eggs in one basket. Eggs ^_^ )

      • If backup solutions haven't kept up with hard drive sizes... maybe it's time to migrate your backup solution to Hard drive?

        We have a pretty good setup. Our backup system is 2 servers - one running linux and one running windows - each attached to our 12TB backup array, through SAS (serial attached scsi, i think). Basically, we have 2 2U chassis with 12x500GB hard drives in the front of them, and scsi connectors in the back. Anyway, all the backups (the SAN, staff desktop machines, and servers) are run thr
    • Why not just backup to another hard disk?
      • Because you often don't just back something up once - when dealing with important data (i.e. not your MP3 and porn collection) you want at least 30 days of daily backups... that's 30 gigs right there. Not too cost effective there.
    • Business with terabytes of data to backup already have a solution. They're called tape drives. They have kept up with disk capacity just fine, and have more than kept up with disk speeds. The latest models can hold around a TB of data per tape after compression (the compression is done on the drive, so it doesn't bog down the CPU), and they can accept data at around 250-300MB/sec.

    • Re:A backup solution (Score:4, Informative)

      by jabuzz ( 182671 ) on Saturday August 05, 2006 @07:00PM (#15853631) Homepage
      I am not aware of any period of time in the last 20 years in which the capacity of at least one tape format has not exceeded the capacity of the largest hard drive on the market. Right now I have a Quantum DLT-S4 library at work, which is 800GB native capacity per tape. The largest hard drive I can buy is a 750GB Seagate.
  • So soon it get's forgotten forever, why do these people waste their and our time with such incompatible media?
    Do they really think we pick it up?

    Dream on Hitachi / Maxell...
    • Would you have said the same thing about companies working on CDs and DVDs before they became popular?

      The only real problem with this format is it's been in development for well over a decade and the whole time it's been "almost ready, hope to have it going by this year".
  • by AWeishaupt ( 917501 ) on Saturday August 05, 2006 @11:01AM (#15852208)
    Give it a few years... 11 dimensional storage. Oh yes.
  • DIsc? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Saturday August 05, 2006 @11:08AM (#15852232) Homepage
    I don't want a disc. I want something small we're able to use in smaller portable devices, something where the medium doesn't need to move.

    I want a cube. I want a cube about 1cm^3 in size. If that's too thick, a 2x1x0.5cm sliver is OK. Preferably translucent moss green, but other colors are of course also acceptable as long as they've appeared for futuristic storage in at least one reputable sci-fi movie.

    To be slightly serious, there's non-aesthetic reasons for this as well. With optical storage it's much faster to move the beam around than the media, and with rotating media your seek and read times alike are limited by the rotation speed.

    But mostly I just want a translucent green block because it's cool. Bonus points if there's a small LED inside making it glow.
  • I want holographic displays!

  • Check out millipede (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Saturday August 05, 2006 @11:14AM (#15852254) Homepage
    1Tb / 1 in. This holographi stoage is nowhere near as good as millipede. []
  • Its interesting how some tech predictions can be so wildly wrong. I read some advice in a magazine about 9 or 10 years ago which read something like this - "Don't buy a DVD-R drive, within a year or so they'll be replaced by holographic storage". I waited, but it just never came. Holographic storage has been just on the horizon for so long and never materialized, so its really great that a workable solution has been developed for technology with such promise. A little late, but better than not at all.
    • On the upside once you finally caved you were able to either save some money, or get a get a faster-burning drive. I burn DVDs at 4x because any faster and there's too many L1 errors for my taste. Any slower and I'd have to wait twice or four times as long...and according to Nero my burner won't do 1x or 2x anyway. :)
  • As I understand it, these discs are meant almost exclusively for backup and storage purposes. The thing about HDDVDs and BVDs are that you can press them in a production line for a few cents, while these things are a little more complicated.
  • Still Disc (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Saturday August 05, 2006 @11:26AM (#15852295) Homepage Journal
    Why do these discs have to rotate? How about rotating just the spindle, inside the hub, directing the read/write laser? The reference laser for interference can shine from a fiber around the circumference, or from one side or the other. Rotating the disc is a waste of energy and time.
    • Why do these discs have to rotate?

      Probably for the same reason that early automobiles came with buggy whips. Because that's what you're 'supposed' to do.
    • Rotating the spindle would waste even more energy, and be more complicated.
      • Tell me how rotating a 0.1g 1mm metal spindle takes more energy than rotating a 5g 5" warped plastic disc, especially at high RPM.

        It's a little more complicated, but not much (the laser has to be decoupled from the frame in which its rotating). Certainly worth the gains. Plus, stacking discs onto longer spindles with multiple read heads is possible, much less complicated than rotating a stack of discs.
    • One of the alternatives considered for car audio before the compact disc was a system with rectangular card-like optical media, scanned linearly. The scanning was more complex but the loading was simpler.
      • The idea here is that the spindle just has to rotate a modulating laser inside the center hole, and interfere with a static laser shined from any of the other angles. It's scanning is extremely simple, using mostly the same mechanics and addressing electronics/logic as current CD/DVD/HD drives. A rectangular media could work, though the addressable volume is probably just a contained oval or perhaps a circle.
  • by webword ( 82711 ) on Saturday August 05, 2006 @11:33AM (#15852310) Homepage
    Personally, I don't care how my data is stored. It can be holographic, electromagnetic, or paper-click-o-matic. I care about how much I can store. I want it secure and I want it instantly available. Getting excited about "holographic" is pretty much a waste of time. Just tell me how much I can store, tell me how it can be (easily) set up and secured, and how much it is going to cost. After that, I'm just hearing 01010100101010. No thanks.

    By the way, I recently found out about the Data Storage Industry Wiki []. From a business perspective, this is pretty cool. They talk about trends and big picture stuff, and there are many good links to useful resources and smart people. Good stuff; relevant.
  • They say that its only 1cm bigger than a traditional CD...but couldn't they just trip it down like they do with those CD/business cards and those mini DVDs? I mean yeah, its less space, but its still a HUGE increase.

    The one issue of course is whether they read/write like traditional burners, from the inside to the outside. Anybody know whether these do that or not?

  • They have come up with a disc that will be hard to make a drive for that will fit in a standard drive bay. Why not shave off 1 cm making the disk only 250GB but fit in with every computer in the world.

    • In other words, 13cm is less than 5.24 inches. So stop worrying, you can build a (probably slotloading) drive around it that will fit into your PC. They managed years ago with floppies too, well before anyone even thought about perhaps building a CD drive.
  • by WWWWolf ( 2428 ) <> on Saturday August 05, 2006 @12:51PM (#15852561) Homepage

    I have a belt bag for my Nintendo DS. I keep six GBA games on the side pocket. GBA games are small enough, yet not too small, easy enough to handle. But currently, I'm keeping one Nintendo DS game in the console itself and keeping the others in my bag in the retail packages. DS games are much smaller than GBA games. I keep worried that I might lose them. I'm trying to come up with a decent, safe enough solution. (Let's see if I can find my old wallet that had all those pockets, that ought to do the trick...) I always get the same sort of worries with memory cards, SIM cards, etc...

    The point is, the smaller the storage media comes, the easier it is to lose.

    I'm all for 1 cm disks, as long as they come with a caddy that is half the size of a 3.5" floppy.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Techno-blog editor one: What time is it?

    Techno-blog editor two: Time for another Holographic Storage [] article!

    I suggest a moratorium on Holographic Storage articles until some device is actually shipping from the factory floor!
    • Back in the days before the Super Nintendo came out, I was in middle school and received the Nintendo Power magazine. I, honest to God, remember a holographic storage system being mentioned in connection with the upcoming Super Nintendo system. If my math is correct, that's something over 15 years worth of vaporware for this concept.

      Not that it's a bad concept. Somebody just needs to put forth the effort to transform it from a lab curiosity to a practical reality.
  • What's this nonsense about 2D? Well, in my world a dual layer would be 3D. Why insist on that this is new? It's better, yes, but it's essentially only more layers.

    Yohoo for more layers, BTW!!!
  • Of course, some idiot had to make it 1cm bigger, just so it won't fit into all existing form factors. Hey, the diameter of a CD/DVD/HD/BluRay is one of the few standards we actually have today.

    Older standards include the dimensions of the punch card, and the width of magnetic tape.

  • I mean 300gig is nothing compared to the ~1-3TB that is meant to come from holographic disks.
    why can't we get the A grade stuff on day one? why do we have to continually pay for upgrades
    to things that should have been made available to us on day one?

    Arash Partow
    • Because then we would have to wait until 2010 before we get holographic drives, or even longer. Isn't it better to at least get 300 GB now instead of waiting another 4 years for 1+ TB?
  • Well, how many dimensions do we have to work with?
    Well, according to string theory, 11. Not what you were expecting?
  • I thought holographic disc storage had been done years ago, or at least last year.

    It's possibly due for commercialization in 2006. (call me when I can order one for cheap) But the concept and product demos have already been done.
  • I'll believe it when I see through it.
  • If the next breakthrough is 4-dimensional storage, can I retrieve files I accidentally deleted a few years ago?

    Or can I store things back in time, and send notes to myself 10 years ago?

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