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GE's Holographic Storage to Yield 500 GB Discs

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 35 comments

General Electronics this week announced a breakthrough in holographic storage technology which could allow us to store up to 500 GB of data on one disc. In other words, ten Blu-ray Discs in one.

Current technology sees pits and grooves imprinted onto a polycarbonate material and are read with a laser to create your bog standard CD or DVD. Advancements from CDs to DVDs to new blue laser optical formats use shorter wavelength lasers to read smaller marks, meaning you can fit more data onto a single disc. GE says this is all about to change. The company said Monday that it is abandoning the "pits and grooves" approach to storing data and instead is working on 3D volumetric holographic storage technology that will use the entire disc for storage as opposed to just the surface.

According to the New York Times, GE has been working on holographic storage technology for more than six years and a crucial challenge for the team, has been finding the materials and techniques so that smaller holograms reflect enough light for their data patterns to be detected and retrieved.

The NYT reports that a recent breakthrough by the team sees a 200-fold increase in the reflective power of their holograms, putting them at the bottom range of light reflections readable by current Blu-ray machines.

It all sounds really cool, but it also sounds really expensive. Apparently not. GE says that when Blu-ray was introduced it was roughly $1/GB. The company expects that when they are introduced (2011 or 2012), holographic discs using its technology will be less than 10 cents/GB, with that price set to fall in the future.

Check out the full report on the New York Times as well as GE’s article on holographic data storage for more.

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  • 0 Hide
    the_one111 , April 28, 2009 6:33 PM
    Interesting to say the least.

    However, I still do not see how something like this won't be pricey.

    ....Maybe the extra 90 cents will be found in the readers for these?
  • -2 Hide
    pug_s , April 28, 2009 6:43 PM
    Hard drive platters now store 500gb each.
  • -1 Hide
    A Stoner , April 28, 2009 6:46 PM
    Put the meat on the table. We hear all about all these great next generation storage solutions and they end up being pretty small potatoes and no where near enough meat to satisfy the consumer.

    Blu-Ray blows, no one is buying the over priced players, and the over priced media. At first it could have been due to the fact that they had compitition and everyone knew someone had to lose, so why buy into a possibly dead format. Now there is no excuse other than the fact that Blu Ray does not deliver what the consumer wants.

    This could be great, or it could be HD-DVD. In the end what consumers of this type of media want is the ability to back up their information securely and at a low cost. That means speed, that means the disc has to survive for a long time before degrading to unusable, and that means low cost hardware to use it in. No chance in hell of movie studios using this large of a format, it is already apparent that they refuse to use even Blu Ray, because the cost for converting to a high defintion is too much for them to spend, unless it is a new release of course. They are afraid that high quality media releases will be pirated, thus a movie that has 500GB of data scares them to death. They will also fight tooth and nail til the death to prevent the release of this media, because then pirating by way of disc will become a bigger problem again, where they are trying to kill ISP bandwidth to prevent pirating as well as ligitimate transfers of information, they will not allow a new format that can hold 20 of their precious movies in pure form, or 50 to 100 in a compressed form.

    Hope I am wrong, but as I said at the beginning, put the meat on the table and let us taste it, until then, it is nothing.
  • 1 Hide
    daft , April 28, 2009 6:48 PM

    just a little something i found over a year ago
  • 0 Hide
    scryer_360 , April 28, 2009 6:59 PM
    Hmmm, if this works it could keep physical storage media in the market for some time. Yes HDD's just hit 500 gigs a platter, but you can't hot swap hdds like you can discs into a player. All the better then if GE can get this working in existing Blu-Ray players.

    Could the same technology be applied to a hdd platter in some way? Because if discs just went (well, will go) from 25 gigs a layer (BD single layer) to 500 gigs, that is a 20 fold increase. Anyone else thinking 50 terabyte platters in a HDD?
  • 1 Hide
    chise1 , April 28, 2009 7:09 PM
    I hope that they come up with a good solution to excessive burn times... Imagine how long it'd take to put 500 gb onto one disk!
  • 2 Hide
    hellwig , April 28, 2009 7:09 PM
    If it can hit a resonable price, it could be worth it. However, a 16-layer Bluray disk can store 400GB (and apparently they're working on a 1TB Bluray disk). No you can't buy them in a store, but you can't buy a Holographic disk or read/writer either. Couple in the fact that they are aiming Holographic Disks at the storage market, and not the consumer market, and this technology probably won't make it very far. It will sit on the shelf with all those multi-thousand dollar tape drives and hundred dollar tape cassettes already being used for storage.
  • 3 Hide
    aalkema , April 28, 2009 7:26 PM
    Antilycusat 10 cents per GB, thats still 50, bucks a disc....I would see the future in Memory Card or Bar Codes... the 2D Barcode on teh back of your license holds, 80 GB... Yes I am serious and yes I am right.

    80gb? I'm pretty sure barcodes hold on the order of bytes, not gigabytes. Where did you hear that from?
  • 3 Hide
    vgdarkstar , April 28, 2009 7:34 PM
    Antilycusat 10 cents per GB, thats still 50, bucks a disc....I would see the future in Memory Card or Bar Codes... the 2D Barcode on teh back of your license holds, 80 GB... Yes I am serious and yes I am right.

    Um, no... just no
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , April 28, 2009 7:36 PM
    Hey guys... it's just new technology... When (and mostly important IF) it become a product, it will somewhere in it's life cycle reach mainstream prices, and if we can have disc-based optical storage up to 1TB, it's really worth it.

    The big question is if that new disc-based storage technology will get mature and affordable in enought time before online-based storage services combined with faster broadband access simply overkill local storage in a cost/benefit aspect for common user applications.
  • 0 Hide
    jecht , April 28, 2009 7:46 PM
    I can't see much of an application for this, other than maybe for back-ups. Unless they start making ultra-HD resolution movies/TVs that display ten times the resolution or something. But by then, would you even notice the difference? It's hard to even tell the difference between 720p and 1080p...
  • 0 Hide
    trucmuche4 , April 28, 2009 7:56 PM
    I don't if we're talking about the same GE but the one I know is General Electric, not Electronics.
  • 1 Hide
    jeraldjunkmail , April 28, 2009 8:11 PM
    It is always the next generation of technology that drives the price of current or last gen tech down in price. So if they release this, BD will plummet in price. Technical advancement is good for us all...
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 28, 2009 8:26 PM
    Duh - YES its needed for back ups!! That is the MAIN need. Right now its back up one hard drive with another which is a big hassle - there hasnt been another cost effective storage medium out there since CDs first came out (they were sizey enough at the time to backup the size of the HDs back then.) Takes 100+ DVDs to back up todays HDs - ridiculous!! But they announce this vapor hard ware all the time. So I am not excited - Show me the money!
  • 0 Hide
    hannibal , April 28, 2009 8:46 PM
    Well those "ultra-HD resolution movies/TVs" are coming eventually, but how usefull they will be reamains to be seen...
    But even todays HD gueality movies/tvs would benefit from larger space. Whole Battle Star galactica season in one disk would be nice. But as has been said the hardest part is the market penetration. This may end like those PPU cards. The idea remains, without real products. But eventually those blue ray disks will prove to be too small, the media always do that, so sooner or later we sill see some media that is much larger than we have today... what format it will be, reamains to be seing.
  • 0 Hide
    ksenter , April 28, 2009 8:52 PM
    Antilycusat 10 cents per GB, thats still 50, bucks a disc....I would see the future in Memory Card or Bar Codes... the 2D Barcode on teh back of your license holds, 80 GB... Yes I am serious and yes I am right.

    I hope you're joking. A barcode doesn't not hold GB of data, that's probably the stupidest think I've heard in a long long time... The barcode on the back of your license (depending on your state) holds around 280 bytes of information, which is a lot for a barcode. Here's an example:
  • -3 Hide
    crom , April 28, 2009 9:02 PM
    I think the physical medium itself is starting to go out of style in favor of cloud computing, particularly when you're talking about entertainment. Things like iTunes, Netflix online, etc. As a data backup feature, I would think durability and speed of the writing will be what makes this take off or kills it out of the box.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 28, 2009 9:21 PM
    This technology has existed for a couple of years now with HVD and HVC. It's really too bad it never took off because I really liked the idea of using a card instead of a disc. Maybe GE can give it the push it needs to reach the mainstream.

    btw, it's General Electric. General Electronics is a Chinese battery supplier ;) 
  • 1 Hide
    gorehound , April 28, 2009 9:29 PM
    as far as blue ray goes i am not buying into it currently.i did a serious test here on my system which is a really good one as i also do video and audio work so i have power conditioners rack mounted and lots of cool gear.anyways i hooked up a PS3 and took a DVD and a blue ray of 10,000 BC playing the blue ray in the PS3 and the DVD in my upsampled Oppo.I saw a difference but it was not what you would of thought you would see in other words the Oppo looked great and the PS3 had a little more detail.
    Well sorry blue ray but you are not worth twice the price for a movie nor are you worth even more for a decent player.

    this holographic storage could be a decnt thing.
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