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Sony and Panasonic team up for 300GB optical discs

Sony and Panasonic team up for 300GB optical discs

Sony and Panasonic are looking to launch a new optical disc format offering 300GB capacities by 2015 - but will initially be targeting the enterprise archive market.

Sony and Panasonic have announced that they are teaming up to produce a next-generation writeable optical format that will boost storage capacities to an impressive 300GB within the next two years.

Currently, the state of the art in mainstream optical storage is Blu-ray. Favoured for film distribution, the format allows for up to 50.1GB to be stored in a disc no larger than a CD. The BDXL format, which has not yet gained mainstream traction, expands this to 128GB for a write-once disc or 100GB for a rewritable disc, but lacks compatibility with existing Blu-ray devices.

Sony and Panasonic are looking to surpass Blu-ray, rather than expand it as with BDXL, with the announcement that a recordable optical disc with a storage capacity of at least 300GB will be produced by the end of 2015 - representing a three-fold boost in capacity over BDXL rewriteable discs.

Both companies certainly have a track record in developing optical disc technologies: Sony and Panasonic have both produced numerous Blu-ray products, while earlier efforts include some of the first Compact Disc systems and Sony's ill-fated MiniDisc. More recently, the two companies have been looking to using optical discs for archival purposes: Sony's XDCAM storage system, released last year, uses a series of 25GB-capacity discs in a 12-disc cartridge to offer up to 300GB; Panasonic's LB-DM9, meanwhile, launched this year with a 20.8mm-thick magazine holding 12 100GB BDXL discs and room for 90 magazines in the system for overall storage of 180TB at speeds of up to 216MB/s.

It's there that the first hitch in the plan becomes apparent: both Sony and Panasonic are targeting a 2015 production timescale for the 300GB format, but will be concentrating on the lucrative enterprise end of the market. As a result, it is likely that the first products to come out of the partnership will be high-end archive systems rather than home-user burners or retail-ready pressable discs.

That's a shame, because the need for high capacity removable storage has never been greater. Increases in the complexity of computer systems mean a corresponding jump in the storage capacity required: as graphics cards get more powerful, textures get more complex to support higher-resolution display devices; as digital cameras increase the resolution of their sensors, the space required to store images also increases; and with the current push towards affordable Ultra HD - also known as 4K - displays continues, there's going to be a need for a high-capacity storage format for video too.

That's not to say that Sony and Panasonic's new format - which has yet to be detailed, beyond offering increased storage capacities in what is hoped to be the same physical format as current Blu-ray, DVD and CD optical discs - won't make it to the consumer level at some point, of course; merely that it won't be arriving in 2015.

16 Comments

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BlackMage23 30th July 2013, 10:51 Quote
DVD is still selling very well. It would be crazy to bring out a new video disc format even in 2 years.
The Xbox one will help sell blu ray a bit more, but that format still needs a lot more time.
Maki role 30th July 2013, 11:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackMage23
DVD is still selling very well. It would be crazy to bring out a new video disc format even in 2 years.
The Xbox one will help sell blu ray a bit more, but that format still needs a lot more time.

Maybe not 2 years, but 4-6 years could certainly be a good point at the consumer level. By then 4k will be cost effective enough that it will be hitting mainstream markets. At the same time the new consoles will be showing their age, and Bluray would have fully saturated the market. Also I can't really see broadband speeds and data usage limits being quite suitable for 4k by then for many. I guess those interested in that resolution will already have the Internet to support it, but that won't really promote adoption in the wider audience.
Corky42 30th July 2013, 11:10 Quote
Maybe i have this wrong but isn't the enterprise end of the market more concerned with long term storage solutions. afaik all optical disc only offer around 50 years of lifetime storage.
PCBuilderSven 30th July 2013, 13:21 Quote
Does anyone still want optical disks? USB flash drives have already hit 1 TB, by the time these are available the price of them will have dropped significantly. Furthermore, they will likely be faster and can be overwritten practically as much as you want. Alternatively just get an external hard drive and you can easily go up to 4 TB.
Woodspoon 30th July 2013, 13:23 Quote
Daft attempt to try and make a new cash cow.
Cthippo 30th July 2013, 13:28 Quote
It would be nice to have something for long term storage of massive amounts of data. My 1 TB fileserver is getting full but there isn't really any other media I could back it up to. Now multiply that problem by, say, 1000, and you see the issue. You can only back up mechanical hard drives to other mechanical hard drives which are expensive and a pain to store. I would welcome some new media for mass backups.
damien c 30th July 2013, 14:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cthippo
It would be nice to have something for long term storage of massive amounts of data. My 1 TB fileserver is getting full but there isn't really any other media I could back it up to. Now multiply that problem by, say, 1000, and you see the issue. You can only back up mechanical hard drives to other mechanical hard drives which are expensive and a pain to store. I would welcome some new media for mass backups.

It would be nice to have these now, as when I finally buy a 1TB SSD then I can back up straight to 4 Blu-Ray 300Gb disc's rather than messing around with around 10 100Gb disc's.

I would do a back up to the net but 1TB would take ages to upload and download again when needed.
PCBuilderSven 30th July 2013, 14:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cthippo
It would be nice to have something for long term storage of massive amounts of data. My 1 TB fileserver is getting full but there isn't really any other media I could back it up to. Now multiply that problem by, say, 1000, and you see the issue. You can only back up mechanical hard drives to other mechanical hard drives which are expensive and a pain to store. I would welcome some new media for mass backups.

The enterprise market, which these are designed for, already have tape drives that can store 4 TB per cartridge (eg. http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/uk/storage/tape/ts1140/index.html ) , allowing for even the largest hard drives to backed up. For consumers a 1TB external hard drive is around £50, or cloud storage services can be used.
faugusztin 30th July 2013, 14:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maki role
Maybe not 2 years, but 4-6 years could certainly be a good point at the consumer level. By then 4k will be cost effective enough that it will be hitting mainstream markets.

300GB optical disc is a joke even now, not in 2 or more years. Anything less than 1TB in a year or so is doomed to death. Sure, 300GB will be a fine media for movie distribution, but that is pretty much all that media could be used for. For audio, even the current BR media is pretty much useless. And for data storage and archiving, 300GB is way too low. One of these disc will equal three 4k movies max (because they will use around 100GB per one 4k movie).
MrJay 30th July 2013, 17:06 Quote
Seems like a pointless endeavour to me.

Probably only every really good for archiving.

And imagine the cost, Blu Rays are still to expensive in my opinion, even dual layer DVDs are still eyewateringly expensive from high street retailers.

We use an RDX solution for long term storage at work. 1tb cartridges can be had for £85, they are fast and really robust, can't see a super capacity optical disk replacing that any time soon!
Phil Rhodes 30th July 2013, 17:30 Quote
Quote:
Seems like a pointless endeavour to me.

Probably only every really good for archiving.

Well, yes, archiving. Which is extremely important. No?

Definitely want this.
MrJay 30th July 2013, 17:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes


Well, yes, archiving. Which is extremely important. No?

Definitely want this.


Yeah if the price and speed is right, there are already quite allot of decent capacity mediums out there.
ssj12 30th July 2013, 19:20 Quote
I dont see the point, Id rather them wait for 4K films an use BDXL.
greigaitken 30th July 2013, 19:29 Quote
you see, back in the day when 700mb cd's were used for data @ £1 each, and you had to pay £100 for a 2gb hard disc, yes they made sense.
now these discs would be like £5 each and by that time, it'll be £50 for a 2tb drive.
Archiving only has to last 10 years till another tech means you can start consolidating again.
Nowadays, I think optical is only good for write once in the factory.
Elton 31st July 2013, 01:23 Quote
What this actually means is that hard drives and optical media in general have not capped out on space.

The question is how dire the read speeds on these things are. I will have to say, at $10 a disc, or even $3 a disc, 100GB of data for $3 is fantastic value. Slow, but fantastic value. The idea that optical media is dead is actually rather untrue as flash memory is still much more expensive at high densities.

Discs however are not.
edzieba 31st July 2013, 09:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by PCBuilderSven
Does anyone still want optical disks?
Yes. Anyone who doesn't want to watch video streams that look like warmed arse will be sticking with high-capacity physical media for the forseeable future. Available broadband bandwidth is increasing, but so to is the size of video files (4k, stereo 3D, HFR, etc) in tandem, and there's the additional wrinke of ISPs capping left and right in an attempt to squeeze more profit without having to spend to upgrade their networks.
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