Holographic storage to debut at "very end" of 2006

Chicago (IL) - InPhase is edging closer to a commercial release of its holographic storage system "Tapestry". The technology will offer 300 GByte space on one disc and will be marketed as high-end archival storage solution - but may also appeal to some pro-sumers and small businesses.

Originally scheduled to be released back in 2003, then delayed to 2005, Tapestry drives are now scheduled to become available late next year, according to Kevin Curtis, chief technology officer at InPhase.

However, not all users should get up their hopes up too high that Tapestry will solve their storage needs. Tapestry will not compete with consumer media such as Blu-ray, but rather with traditional backup solutions such as tape media. The technology is positioned as archival system for libraries that can store vast amounts of data over long periods of time.

Curtis hopes that Tapestry will convince high-end customers such as universities to purchase the technology because of potential cost savings and the robustness of optical Tapestry media. "Optical media tend to be less expensive than tapes. In order to protect content, data needs to be moved from one tape to another every few years, which can be very costly" he said. Tapestry media will offer more capacity and will be more robust: "We will guarantee a data integrity of 50 years," Curtis said.

The idea of holographic media dates back about 12 years and InPhase already has been working about 5 years on Tapestry. At debut, the media will offer about 300 GByte of space and a data read/write performance of 160 MByte per second. Every 18 months, the capacity is scheduled to increase in steps of 800 GByte and 1.6 TByte per disc, which will be reached in 2009 or 2010. Data transfer rates are expected to be in a range of about 1 GByte per second.

Holographic media will be manufactured for example by Maxell and Hitachi. Tapestry drives are likely to be offered by OEMs as 5.25" units.

InPhase does not plan to offer a consumer version of its holographic drive at this time. "The mass market is a difficult game for a startup," Curtis said. However, he believes that some power users or so-called pro-sumers as well as small businesses will be interested in a holographic storage solution: "It is especially interesting when for example video data need to be safely stored."

According to the targeted market, Tapestry drives and media will also be pricewise out of reach for most consumers. Curtis expects a $10,000 price tag for the drive and about $100 for a 300 GByte disc at launch.