Feeds

GE tries to refocus image of holographic storage

Another potential dust-biter

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Comment General Electric has been talking up its holographic storage technology again, reckoning it can succeed where Plasmon and others have failed, because of backward Blu-ray and DVD compatibility.

Currently holographic storage products inhabit a graveyard or deep freeze. InPhase is currently seemingly in hibernation - not dead but showing little sign of life - though with a late 2009 ship date coming for its troubled $18,000 Tapestry drive and $180 per CD-size disks. UDO developer Plasmon is dead and gone, with a slight phoenix possibility in the shape of its asset purchaser, AST.

Why does GE think it has a chance of making it with a storage technology that has dashed so many hopes already? There seem to be three reasons: better recording and reading technology, insufficient Blu-ray capacity, and backwards compatibility.

Holographic storage involves holograms, images of data, being stored in layers in a CD-sized disk's recording surface. The images are created by two laser beams and read by a laser beam. GE's researchers at its Applied Optics Laboratory managed to shrink these images, calling them micro-holograms. They achieved this to the point where the images were also reflective enough - 200 times more so than before - to be read by optics that could be used to read existing optical formats. A CD-size disk could store 500GB using this technology, with 1TB and greater capacity potentially possible in the 2011/2012 period.

This compares to InPhase's 300GB capacity, although InPhase has predicted a ramp up through 800GB to a 1.6TB capacity point and a 120MB/sec transfer rate. This was said to be appearing in 2010, but that was in 2007, so we'd better assume a 2012/2013 date if InPhase holds to its course. There is a deal of overlap here between GE and Inphase capacities and capacity roadmaps.

The 500GB capacity equals ten double-layer, 50GB Blu-ray disks, or 100 5GB DVDs. GE believes that drives using its technology could also read Blu-ray, DVD and even CD disks. This makes them, in theory, usable by consumers and thus increases their volume dramatically, compared to the professional archiving market addressed by Plasmon's UDO and the InPhase Tapestry development. This volume should enable a per-drive cost far lower than the $18,000 InPhase has suggested for its Tapestry.

We should bear in mind that GE is suggesting that consumer drives using its technology wouldn't appear until 2014 or 2015, though, suggesting that drive cost will be a problem in the early years.

Company representatives suggest that an entire 3D movie might be storable on a disk with its technology.

There is the implicit assumption here that downloading such movies will not be feasible, as network links will be too slow. Another assumption is that Blu-ray capacity will simply not be enough for the massive files needed by 3D movies and the like in a few years time. Blu-ray will run out of capacity by 2013 or so, according to this scenario.

The GE drive technology has a 3msec access period and transfers data at what is described as five times the DVD transfer rate. Assuming a 16x DVD writer runs at 21.13MB/sec, this implies 105.65MB.sec. At that speed, a 1TB GE technology disk would take 2.65 hours to write. However, GE says its disks could be replicated off a golden master in a factory at rates of 180 to 360 an hour.

Cost-wise, GE is suggesting 10 cents/GB or less for disk capacity when the drives and disks are introduced, as hopefully expected, in 2011/2012. At $0.10/GB, a 1TB disk would cost $100: far, far from cheap.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
HP busts out new ProLiant Gen9 servers
Think those are cool? Wait till you get a load of our racks
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
Community chest: Storage firms need to pay open-source debts
Samba implementation? Time to get some devs on the job
Like condoms, data now comes in big and HUGE sizes
Linux Foundation lights a fire under storage devs with new conference
Silicon Valley jolted by magnitude 6.1 quake – its biggest in 25 years
Did the earth move for you at VMworld – oh, OK. It just did. A lot
Forrester says it's time to give up on physical storage arrays
The physical/virtual storage tipping point may just have arrived
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?