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New disc keeps your lolcats collection safe for a millennia

One of the things that most people don’t consider when they are pouring all of their digital photos and video onto a CD or DVD to save for the future is that optical media has a finite lifespan. In as little as three to five years all those photos safely tucked away on a DVD may be unreadable.

For those needing an optical media to store data or photos for archival purposes that will last much (much, much) longer than the lifespan of conventional DVDs and CDs a new startup company called Cranberry LLC has a new DVD that promises to be usable for 1,000 years called DiamonDisc. The disc uses standard DVD format, which means any old DVD player can read the data on the disc.

The DiamonDisc stores the standard 4.7GB of data that a single layer DVD can store. What allows the new disc media to last so long is that the discs don't use dyes, adhesive layers, or reflective materials that can deteriorate over time. The discs can also stand up to temperatures as high as 176 degrees.

Cranberry gets its claims of 1,000 years of viability from lab tests using the ECMA-379 temperature and humidity testing standards. Whereas the standard DVD has a silver or gold reflective surface, the DiamonDisc is transparent with no reflective layer.

The real catch with these discs is that you need a special DVD burner to be able to author them. The DVD burner needed for writing the special DVDs sells for $4,995 and includes 150 DiamonDiscs. The burner connects to any computer via a USB port. The company will also burn the discs for you for $34.95 for a single disc, $29.95 for two or more, or $149.75 for five discs.

With that price, the DiamonDiscs aren’t going to be that appealing to consumers. However, enterprise and government users may be intrigued in the medium for archival purposes. Cranberry reports that it is in talks with the U.S. Government to use the format for archival purposes.

Joe Beaulaurier, Cranberry's chief marketing officer said, "For the military, there's no heat, light, magnetic waves, or environmental abuse that will have an impact on these discs."

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RE: penny stock
By Boze on 11/13/2009 11:38:05 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed. There's nothing here that can't be replicated by a high-capacity USB flash memory drive. Aren't there already 128 GB thumb drives available for around $395? Right now I have a cheap Cruzer II 4GB in my pocket that I paid $8 for at Wal-Mart. Its durable, its reliable, and every computer made in the past decade or so has a USB port. Optical storage is only good for archival purposes, and even then, large magnetic disks are quickly catching up. A formatted 1 terabyte hard disk holds 931 gigabytes of data. It takes 198 DVD-Rs to store as much data. A 200 DVD spindle runs around $70 or so. You can pick up a 1 TB drive from Newegg for $65 or so.

Now let's talk about data transfer rates. Even the fastest DVD won't approach the speeds of that hard disk. I'm using 4 of those terabyte hard disks I mentioned (Hitachi brand) in a home server. Moving files to and from the server to my desktop machine, I hit speeds of around 88 megabytes a second. That's a far cry from any DVD drive I've ever heard of.

Optical had its chance, but its time to let it die out like the dinosaur.

RE: penny stock
By geddarkstorm on 11/13/2009 11:42:36 AM , Rating: 5
Err, but NAND flash has a physical life span limit of around 10 years or so, before the bit cells lose their charge. That is hardly useful for archiving purposes.

RE: penny stock
By mindless1 on 11/14/2009 10:58:57 AM , Rating: 3
Not an issue, it has always been the case that you read and error check your archive and put it onto a newer media even if the same type/tech media. NAND flash has the least potential to shelf rot from defect over that 10 years compared to most contemporary media, so regardless of it's finite steep drop-off in longevity it is potentially more secure during that period which is what it's all about, a reliable means to hold the data for the period recognized.

With conventional optical discs that is not so true, not only when we were led to believe 50 year lifespans but when we saw bad batches deteriorate in less than 2 years.

Never underestimate the effect of penny-pinching on what could have been or used to be a reliable media. I suppose that's true with flash based devices as well, you really have to take anything on a case by case, product by product basis.

Main problem with using flash is still the capacity:price ratio, since you can make so so many redundant copies on alternate media for the same total cost if the data exceeds a few gigabytes.

RE: penny stock
By William Gaatjes on 11/15/2009 3:50:53 AM , Rating: 3
Indeed. But fortunately there is a positive scenario.
Although most flash media have a data retention on average of 10 years, it does not mean that flash or eeprom can hold data longer... It depends on the process used and the materials. For all those SSD drives and usb flashsticks , flash writes need to be fast. The issue is, you want to write fast and be more prone to errors or you want to your data to be save and have low write speeds. Reading data to has it's influence but less then high write speeds.
I myself do not bet on using flash media as a backup device. I have tried it as a test next to a common HDD. And the flash device failed. And it is not the only time i have seen this. Many people will come with calculations of possible failure. But i have reality on my side. Low density flash is almost indestructible , high density flash memory is certainly not.

There is an endurance failure and a data retention failure.
The gate oxide wears out when used. The gate oxide of the floating gate accumulates electrons during every write /erase action. After a while a 1 or 0 written will still give the same result back. And the insulator is not a perfect insulator, leaking electrons over time. This means that the charge on a function floating gate is leaking away. This all get's much worse when the process get's smaller. When a microcontroller with 256 kB of flash memory can retain it's data for 25 years i believe it can. But a high density flash memory of a few Gigabyte build on a modern process ? No, not unless you are willing to pay for physical reliability. With wear leveling algorithms and error detection/correction algorithms you can do only so much. Until all programs and windows itself can be modified to write only to specified mass storage as of my choosing, i do not need an SSD. For every temp file written there must be an option to where that file will be written.

RE: penny stock
By Alexstarfire on 11/13/2009 6:21:08 PM , Rating: 2
You can get 200 DVDs for under $40. Not sure where you get this $70 from.

RE: penny stock
By drycrust on 11/14/2009 2:41:45 PM , Rating: 2
I agree as well. If one considers what electrical technology we use today that is unchanged with that used 100 years ago, about the only thing is the incandescent light bulb. In addition, when we consider what doesn't need any maintenance, about the only thing so far to have reliably lasted 100 years is the wiring.
If we ask what has lasted reliably unmaintained over 1000 years and that the average Joe can understand without the need to learn olde languages, about the only thing is visual stuff like sketches, paintings and mosaics.
So what technology do we have now that needs no maintenance, doesn't require special languages to learn, and we can reasonably expect to exist in 1000 years time? CDs/DVDs, flash drives, hard drives, cassette tapes, and VHS, will have disappeared creating another "Dark Ages" simply because even if the items do last, they need machines made of highly complex parts to extract the information upon them. Only photographs (if the paper lasts), sketches, paintings, ... and mosaics will be easily understood.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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