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Holographic storage: We're going to do it this time. No, really

'Hey, it's no slower than watching a vid on CNN'

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Holo-disc start-up hVault, which slurped the blueprints for InPhase Technologies' holographic storage technology, has vowed to breathe life into the technology, with product promised for next year. Of course, we've already passed the spring of 2012, when hVault originally said it would be shipping the kit.

We hear noises from the the International Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA) that hVault has a 300GB, 50-year life product entering beta test by the end of 2012, with deliverable product by the summer of 2013. That's later than expected but what's new; the speed of light is 299,792,458 metres/sec, but the speed of holographic storage development is glacial.

InPhase struggled for years to productise its tapestry drive before crashing out and filing for chapter 11. Its holographic disks could store up to 300GB and last for 50-years or more. The discs won't need periodic re-writing to fresh media which, InPhase says, is necessary with tape, and so they are cheaper and more energy-efficient to store.

The slow access time for holographic disks is dealt with ingeniously by the InPhase team at hVault: "It is true that the access time for magnetic media is around a second or so and for holographic storage it can be up to 10 seconds but, when a user tries to access a CNN video link for example, a 10-second commercial fills interest until the content is accessed.

"With holographic storage media offering 100 times the capacity of magnetic media, there is really no competition. Large-scale storage used to be measured in terabytes but the industry is now demanding petabytes and exabytes and so systems containing up to 540 discs in a cabinet are going to become the norm."

The IHMA release mentions a cabinet containing up to 540 disks. At 300GB/disk that would be 162TB. There's still a way to go to get to petabytes and exabytes. ®

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