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Backwards compatible with Blu-ray

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Call/Recall has announced it is developing a 1TB optical drive and disk, backwards compatible with Blu-ray, in partnership with with the Nichia Corporation of Japan.

Call/Recall began synthesizing 1TB materials for Nichia’s blue-violet laser diodes in December 2007, with first initial testing successfully completed in March 2008.

InPhase has just this year announced its revolutionary 300GB holographic disk and here is another optical format with more than three times the capacity. How realistic is this?

Call/Recall and Nichia will jointly develop the ultra high-capacity optical disc recording and playback system. It is designed around Nichia's commercially available violet and blue laser diodes and Call/Recall’s one terabyte media.

Understanding Nichia is simple: it co-developed blue-violet laser diodes in conjunction with Sony and they are used in Blu-ray drives.

Understanding Call/Recall is not so simple.

It is privately funded and was founded in 1987 to provide advanced research into optical storage technologies and ultra-high storage solutions for military and commercial customers. The company’s patented, 2-photon 3D optical technology is based on optical storage technology invented by company co-founder Dr. Peter Rentzepis. He is an optical scientist whose work is at the core of many of the world’s top optical technology providers.

This is not fluff. Rentzepis is a former head of Bell Laboratories who has authored approximately 85 patents. These are referenced as existing technology by 45 optical technology providers, who number IBM, Panasonic and Hitachi in their ranks.

One secret sauce is the use of a Rhodamine-type dye in a recording layer. It is excited by laser light and reacts to give off light when excited by another laser at a different wavelength. Such light emission or its absence can be used to indicate binary ones and zeroes.

The dye spots are tiny and can exist in 200-250 layers thus providing the 1TB capacity. The use of a single lens to read multiple layers is enabled by having a fluid-filled lens and increasing/reducing the fluid content and thus the lens' profile and its focal length.

The I/O rate is said to be around 100MB/sec, five times faster than InPhase's holographic drives.

The process is not reversible and produces write-once-read-many (WORM) media. Reversibility is being worked on and there is a generalised roadmap out to 5TB, still on CD-sized 120mm platters.

The use of pretty standard components apart from the lens and recording layer should make for a more affordable drive than InPhase's Tapestry drive which is priced around $12,000.

Call/Recall received an outside capital injection in 2005 and Wayne Yamamoto became its CEO with the goal of commercialising its technology. This deal with Nichia is a first public milestone of its progress toweards that goal.

What about potential markets? Here's what the company says: 'The demand for blue-violet laser-based recording and playback is expected to grow as the US market approaches the hard shut-off of standard analog broadcast on February 17, 2009. Digital High Definition requires more bandwidth and greater storage capacity. Call/Recall anticipates being able to release a Blu-ray compatible disk as well as a backwards-compatible player able to read Blu-ray disks as well as Call/Recall’s higher capacity formats. Call/Recall also intends to use the technology for the enterprise market for the archiving of corporate information.'

Nothing has been said about product availability. Guesstimation suggests 2010 or 2011 but there are plenty of potential obstacles to be dealt with.

Copyright © 2008, Blocks & Files.com

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