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GE holographic disc stores 500GB of data

Researchers at GE have validated technology that will one day usher in the next generation of optical storage -- holographic storage. The researchers have developed a disc the size of a standard DVD that can hold 500GB of data. The researchers say that conventional optical storage discs only store information on the surface of a disc while holographic storage can store information on the entire volume of the disc material.

Tiny holographic bits of information are written to the disc in patterns and can then be read back by the drive. The capacity of holographic discs are a breakthrough, but the technology used in the process is similar enough to the current DVD and Blu-ray technology in wide use that future optical drives will be able to read CD, DVD, Blu-ray, and holographic discs.

GE's Brian Lawrence said in a statement, "GE’s breakthrough is a huge step toward bringing our next generation holographic storage technology to the everyday consumer. Because GE’s micro-holographic discs could essentially be read and played using similar optics to those found in standard Blu-ray players, our technology will pave the way for cost-effective, robust and reliable holographic drives that could be in every home. The day when you can store your entire high definition movie collection on one disc and support high resolution formats like 3-D television is closer than you think."

GE reports that its researchers have been able to successfully record micro-holographic marks approaching one percent reflectivity at a diameter of about one micron. The one-micron size will allow a disc the size of a conventional DVD to hold 500GB of data. GE has been working on holographic storage for six years and the 500GB capacity is a milestone in its research. The researchers hope to eventually devise a way to store 1,000GB of data on a single disc using the holographic process. In 2007, InPhase started shipping holographic writers and media that could store 300GB per disc.

GE's Bill Kernick said, "GE’s holographic storage program has turned the corner, and with this milestone we can now intensify our efforts in commercialization opportunities. We’ll continue to engage with a variety of strategic partners to create the best route from product development to introduction into the marketplace."

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Flash pwns this stuff
By Hacp on 4/28/2009 9:46:12 PM , Rating: 2
I can't wait till the day we migrate to flash. I'm thinking in 5 years, 16nm flash will be a reality. Couple that with 4-6bit MLC and we'll have fash, cheap, reliable storage media. Dvds will be a thing of the past. All our media will be consumed in a proprietary SD format.

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By xRyanCat on 4/28/2009 11:16:13 PM , Rating: 2
But... Flash is more expensive then current conventional disc mediums, including Blu-Ray, and it will likely stay that way for quite a while.

I believe downloads and streaming will likely replace a lot of physical media in the next 10 years. Until then, discs have proven cheap and reliable and won't be going anywhere in 5 years.

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By FITCamaro on 4/29/2009 8:21:38 AM , Rating: 3
There's also the "its mine" factor.

A digital download I can't touch. A movie on a disc or flash card I can. I prefer physically having something to not.

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By Mitch101 on 4/29/2009 9:50:37 AM , Rating: 4
Yup I heard about halogram optical storage breakthroughs 4-5 years ago yet the tech is still not available on any consumer grade level.

If there is one thing I have learned from SED/OLED is dont get excited over news about breakthroughs and even if it could be available there are attorneys and patent disputes which will further delay innovation.

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By invidious on 4/29/2009 3:04:02 PM , Rating: 2
I agree 100% on the not getting excited for the scientific breakthroughs. Like you said new ideas and concepts usually take a decade or so to become products. By then the demand might be gone or something else could beat them to it.

But I think what you would have heard about 4-5 years ago was the scientific breakthorough of discovering halographic storage or perhaps a proof of concept. This article however implies that they are far beyond that, that they have a functional disc. If their claims that it uses technology that is similar to current optical drives then this might not be more than a few years away from consumer use.

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By Alexstarfire on 4/30/2009 5:59:03 AM , Rating: 2
Not sure what he read, but what I read about 4-5 years ago was a prototype, not some theoretical process. It did read at a slower than a snail crawling in molasses rate of 3 kb/s on a disc that stored more than even top of the line Blu-Rays discs we can purchase today. It was not yet practical by any means.

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By CascadingDarkness on 4/30/2009 10:25:03 AM , Rating: 2
I second that to an extent. Not because I really need to caress my game discs.

Steam and others have made huge improvements. It's easy to pull down all the games I use after a format, but the day Steam some how dies, if I can't get copies of those games, I'm coming after someone.

That is why I ran out to get a physical copy of Empire Total War. Not because Best Buy grants me the USS Constitution (though that is a bonus).

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By invidious on 4/29/2009 3:11:28 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, cost will be in optical disc's favor for the near future for sure. This is mainly because of the optical disc's passive nature. The disc itself doesnt do anything, it is acted upon. A flash drive has to have a controller inside of it. This makes the flash drive prone to ESD and water damage. While an optical disc is only vulnerable to heat and physical damage, of which the flash drives are also vulnerable to, though to a much lesser extent with phyiscal damage.

So for the same size you could have the cheaper optical disc or the more expensive and easier to damage flash drive. I am not saying the flash drive is the "wrong" choice, but it definately it not without its drawbacks. Optical is going to continue to have a market.

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By Avitar on 4/30/2009 5:21:38 PM , Rating: 2
Ever hear of the Next Computer? Steve Jobs developed it after the suits bounced him out of Apple to put "professional" management in place in the 1980's. (Of course now he owns the suits ) He centered the Next Computer around network communications because he believed back then as you do now. Networks have never developed with the speed he expected and the one useful thing about the Next Computer is that it was the development platform for the World Wide Web and the first web pages in 1992.

The behavior of businesspersons is just wrong for a network centric system, there will always be someone trying to game the system, illegally or legally, for advantage. Even within enterprises you find that linking documents to data slows systems because the management decisions cut the per person IT expenditure by $10 dollars per year will slow the network response time from ten second to an hour. Until we have multiple fiber optic based ISP competing for the business of providing Network connections for households and businesses the business models will always cause the MBA to short change the network user, because they can get away with it.

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By rippleyaliens on 4/28/2009 11:37:16 PM , Rating: 2
Flash may indeed pwn this, BUT, once again, Flash still has problems. With the big one, being capacity, and a smaller one being size. YAH that is the right order. 500GB on a CD size= AWESOME archive capability. Some people kinda like to have this thing called a BACKUP.. AND a write once media = a good solution.
when flash is available at 500gb, at a cost of under $1, then yah flash pwn them all, until then other media will and always be needed.

Downloading movies from internet, as in streaming is cool and all, but myself, i still like to be able to like STOP, put in a different movie, and continue one. Internet delivery cannot do that yet. With talk of isp's capping their download, you can count me out of that one. Flash is fast, RAM DRIVES make flash drives look like hard drives, of yesteryear.. NOW THAT IS POWER!!!!!.
Flash drives are just the next logical step. Getting there, but at a pace, that is just reasonable, will take 3-4 years, before we see ssd drives take over hard drives in sales.. BUT SPACE the final frontier, SSD's will be a long time until that happens.

BUT holo dvds, whatever, will mean even higher density movies. Quad HD anyone.. im looking forward to this.

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By Hacp on 4/29/2009 2:17:23 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sure they'll be able to develop a write once flash chip that'll be cheap. The big advantage I'm seeing is in size. Would have rather have a slightly lower quality 50gb movie in the size of an SD card, or a super HD movie on a CD thats 10x the size and 100x easier to break.

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By HueyD on 4/29/2009 8:40:44 AM , Rating: 2

How does 1 - 2TB on a SD card sound....coming soon.

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By afkrotch on 4/29/2009 11:44:35 AM , Rating: 2
Umm....SDXC increases the maximum capacity, doesn't mean it'll come at that capacity.

SDHC has a max capacity of 32 GB. They came out in 2006 and we didn't see the first 32 GB card until Spring 2008.

I wouldn't expect a 1 - 2 TB SDXC until late 2010-early 2011. If not even later.

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By HueyD on 4/29/2009 11:52:20 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, it will probably not be this year, but I don't expect hologram storage to be out this year either. If SDXC works and media becomes available (and affordable), hologram storage will be too little, too late.

My opinion :)

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By afkrotch on 4/29/2009 12:12:56 PM , Rating: 2
I can't imagine these hologram storages ever coming out. They've been sitting on the back burner so long, while all your major players are screwing around with multiple layer BDs.

I'm thinking we'll see a 1 TB SDXC before we'd see the hologram disc or a 500 GB BD. Course the SDXC would be well out of an average person's budget. I'm thinking when it does come out, it'll be in the $2-3k price range.

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By AEvangel on 4/29/2009 7:57:26 PM , Rating: 2 even today most of the 32gb & 64gb thumb drives are out of what most people will pay for it.

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By MrPoletski on 4/30/2009 8:42:37 AM , Rating: 2
more important is if they are backwardly compatiable with older SD slots...

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By HueyD on 4/29/2009 8:45:09 AM , Rating: 2
Cablevision is offering 101Mbps internet service in NY area for $99. That should be fast enough for start and stop of several movies.

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By JediJeb on 4/29/2009 6:35:14 PM , Rating: 2
Yea, but out here in the middle of nowhere like me, it is either dial-up or satellite, neither of which is all that good for download movies or playing games. And I doubt we will get anything else around here in the next 5 years.

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By captchaos2 on 4/28/2009 11:37:31 PM , Rating: 5
Ok, now when I get a scratch on the disc, I'll lose an entire folder at a time!

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By Samus on 4/29/2009 3:39:48 AM , Rating: 2
im sure their capacity takes into account error correction, much like other optical (or any storage) formats. they leave a decent amount of headroom, usually 10-12% for CRC you'd need a pretty strategically placed scratch to lose data.

furthermore, reading into how this technology works, the error correction might even be better than conventional optical media since the laser carrier is triaxis (conventional laser carriers are single-plane) and tilts the laser to focus around lower holographic layers in order to reach data stored in layers above. unfortunately ge is close-lip about what this means to data integrity but i'd guess it means the laser can work around surface scratches from an angle.

RE: Flash pwns this stuff
By MrPoletski on 4/29/2009 6:16:15 AM , Rating: 4
My flash got me arrested :(

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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