GE Global Research, the technology development arm of the General Electric Company, today announced it has demonstrated a micro-holographic material that can support data recording at the same speed as Blu-ray discs. (This result builds upon the April 2009 demonstration of a threshold micro-holographic storage material that can support 500 gigabytes of storage capacity in a standard DVD-size disc.)
“During the past two years, our research team has been focused on material improvements to increase the recording speed and making other key advances needed to ready GE’s micro-holographic technology for market,” said Peter Lorraine, Manager of the Applied Optics Lab at GE Global Research. "With a speed to match Blu-ray's, discs made from GE's advanced micro-holographic materials are an attractive solution for both archival and consumer entertainment systems."
Future micro-holographic discs using GE’s proprietary material will read and record on systems very similar to a typical Blu-ray or DVD player. In fact, the hardware and formats can be so similar to current optical storage technologies that future micro-holographic players will enable consumers to play back their CDs, DVDs and BDs.
In the months ahead, GE’s research and licensing teams will be sampling media to qualified companies interested in licensing its proprietary holographic data storage platform, a comprehensive portfolio that includes materials, discs, optical systems for manufacturing and optical drive technologies.
About Holographic Storage
Holographic storage is different from today’s optical storage formats like DVDs and Blu-ray discs. DVDs and Blu-ray discs store information only on up to four layers at the surface of the disc; holographic storage technology uses the entire volume of the disc material. Holograms, or three-dimensional patterns that represent bits of information, are written into the disc at controlled depths, and can then be read out. Because micro-holographic discs can use the entire volume of the material, their storage capacity is much greater than existing storage technologies today. When used in a disc, GE expects its material to match the capacity of 20 single-layer Blu-ray discs, 100 DVDs or the hard drive of most laptop computers.
GE has been working on holographic storage technology for over eight years. Ultimately, the team is working toward micro-holographic discs that can store more than one terabyte, or 1,000 gigabytes of data.
I'm not as gloomy about this technology as DB appears to be. If it can be as reliable and robust as current CD/DVD, its a good candidate for archival backup. It could also bring back and open up a new market for carousel disc players. If the studios can get creative (can't we at least hope?), they could release compilations with 50 to 100 movies on a disc, similar to what they do now with two to four movies on a single DVD. With ISP's looking to charge per-bit download (the high-tech equivalent of a gold mine), it may ultimately become the less expensive option.
A dead end, for two reasons.
a) People are increasingly downloading media rather than having shelves stacked with CDs/DVDs/BluRay etc
b) Access speeds are the key and rotating mechanical memory is just too slow