Holographic storage?

Ironically I was sitting at lunch today and was asked by one of my associates about holographic storage. This is ironic because I was reading about the technology just this weekend.

To put the future of storage technology into perspective a ferroelectric storage drive device the size of an iPod nano or 3.5 inch drive could hold enough MP3 music to play for 300,000 years without repeating a song or enough DVD quality video to play movies for 10,000 years without repetition. I would say this technology would be pretty appealing to the storage market.

What is available today. InPhase Technologies plans to release their first generation drive at the end of 2006. This drive will be a write-once WORM discs designed for fixed content archiving with a capacity of about 300 GB. Re-writable discs with 1.6 TB capacities are planned for release in 2009. As well as enterprise class storage, InPhase is also considering small consumer targeted devices with capacities ranging from 2 GB on a postage stamp to 210 GB on a credit card. They predict that the 200R will have a media shelf life of about 50 years, compared to 10 years for tape.

InPhase claims that the tapestry system has a recording density of 200 Gigabits / square inch and can read data at 27 MB/s. Contrast this with traditional magnetic disk that has a recording density of 120 Mbpsi and the newer perpendicular recording disks with a density of 240Mbpsi. High performance tapes can read data at 40 MB/s or more.
Tapestry uses a twin polymer implementation for the storage medium. The recording medium polymer is dissolved inside a solid matrix polymer; This 2-chemistry combination is a 1.5 mm thick recording material that is sandwiched between two plastic plates; there is no metallic layer such as used in DVD storage. Data is stored by crossing two separate laser beams inside the polymer, which records pages of data. One laser beam works the write the data and the second laser beam is used as a reference beam. Individual pages can hold approximately 1 megabit, and multiple pages are recorded by varying the angle of incidence and wavelength of the reference beam. 252 ‘pages’ are collected together into one ‘book’, and fifteen books or 3780 pages can all the stored in the same piece of recording material. The media used today will most often be referred to a HVD (holographic versatile disc).

While holographic and ferroelectirc technology is extremely interesting most of these technologies are in the incubation phases of research and development. While the technology does hold the promise of revolutionizing the storage market I would not hold off on the 500GB magnetic hard disk purchase for a storage device that holds 15 Terabytes per square inch. I think it may be a while.


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