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Alliance touts holographic disc 'revolution'

One HVD equals 200 DVDs

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Forget HD DVD, forget Blu-ray Disc, the future is the HVD - the Holographic Versatile Disc.

HVD LogoSo claim six Japanese companies, led by Optware and including Fuji Photo Film, who last week launched the HVD Alliance to promote the "revolutionary" format to hardware manufacturers, disc pressing firms, content providers and end-users.

The concept behind holographic storage isn't new. Just as a visual hologram encode 3D objects as light interference patterns, HVD uses the same principle to store data at densities far in excess of today's optical media.

According to Optware, an HVD is the same size as a single-layer DVD but holds 200 times as much data - more than 1TB. The information can be read at over 1Gbps - 40 times the speed of DVD, the company claimed. Optware is backed by Intel's venture capital operation.

Optware's approach uses a colinear system - essentially, the reference and read laser beams are projected along the same axis rather than at an angle through a single objective lens. The upshot is a much simpler system that's better suited to disc media, is smaller and more compatible with DVD and CD.

It's all some way off, however. Next month, a working group, known as TC44, under the Geneva-based Ecma International standards defining body will meet for the first time to commence the process of defining a standard implementation of HVD, including a 200GB cartridge-based 'HVD-RW' disc and a 100GB 'HVD-ROM' product.

TC44 hopes to have specifications drawn up by the end of 2006, a year after the hardware and content industries begin selling and promoting blue-laser optical disc systems to the public. In December 2006, the specs will be submitted to the ISO. ®

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