Ohio-based Folio Photonics has announced its new Active (stylized "ACTIVE") read/write optical disk format. The new discs are claimed to hold 1TB each, and are expected to be packaged in 10-disc caddies. A particular highlight of these optical discs is that they can be produced at a "radical low-cost." Thanks to the use of next-gen materials and efficient production tech, ACTIVE discs cost less than $5 per TB, with a roadmap to $1 per TB.
Despite many people consigning ODD technology into the dustbin of tech history, alongside floppy disks and suchlike, Folio Photonics sounds extremely confident in its new format. Folio Photonics CEO, Steven Santamaria, boasted in a press release that the new ACTIVE discs offer "a fresh approach to optical storage that overcomes historical constraints and puts unheard of cost, cybersecurity and sustainability benefits within reach."
Santamaria’s claims were supported by seasoned IT industry analyst John Monroe, who praised the new optical format and provided some insight regarding the tech behind Active optical discs. While archival discs today employ three layers at the most, Active discs are created with next-gen materials, patented polymer extrusion, and film-based disc construction processes, explained Monroe. The discs work in concert with customized optical pickup units which together facilitate discs with up to 16 film layers per side. Furthermore, Folio Photonics has roadmaps with additional layers added over time, and media costs getting as low as $1 per TB.
Rollout of Active disc technology is expected to begin in 2024, with the 10-disc caddies supporting 10TB. The projected cost of $5 per TB is roughly 5x cheaper than HDD. Continuing with this comparison, HDDs consume up to 80% more power. Thus on two important counts (price per TB and running costs) Active is a clear leader compared to HDD storage. This TCO win should be attractive to enterprises interested in easy access archives.
Folio Photonics claims that the Active discs are created from sustainable materials. Nevertheless, there appears to be little compromise when it comes to the discs' durability as the media is claimed to have a 100 year lifespan, isn't affected by radiation or water, and is resilient to heat, cold and humidity.
The company additionally claims that the Active discs aren't vulnerable to EMP attacks, though HDDs are. Both Active and HDDs are superior to tape archive storage for fast read/write operations. The lack of any claims about the read/write performance of ACTIVE optical discs are conspicuous by their absence. Hopefully some performance details will be showcased ahead of product rollout.