Holodeck? No, that's not right...Holodisc? Well, sort of. Hologram? Closer.... Hitachi-Maxell has announced
that holographic storage will be out for commercial use before the end of 2006. When Maxell's partner InPhase announced its target of enterprise drives by the end of this year at CES, I was a little skeptical...but it seems the company has stayed true to its word. The announcement, made by technical marketing director Rich D'Ambrise, says that this storage will be available in November or December and will hold up to 300GB of data.
Yes, you read that right - 300GB, on one disc. This is attributable to how holographic media stores data (which has a shelf life of a bit over 50 years). The discs actually write volumetrically, instead of just on the 2d surface of 'layers', so the storage capacity becomes much greater than any current media.
But the company is not just leaving the plans there: it expects to hit 800GB by 2008, and a whopping 1.6TB per disc
in 2010. The basic consumer model discs (to avoid pricing the product outside of conventional use) will start from around 75GB capacity and are planned to be in sizes from stamps up to full CDs. These 'home use' drives do not have a release date as of yet.
The massive storage comes at a price for early enterprise adopters, though not just in the $15,000 price tag: they will write at a painstakingly slow 20MB per second. That means writing one 300GB disc will take a bit over 4 hours to complete. However, D'Ambrise is optimistic that as the technology matures, write speeds will increase drastically, while prices will drop as the market matures with it.
Industry experts have already acknowledged that the storage media will probably be the 'big thing' by 2008, meaning that Blu-ray and HD-DVD are already out of date. The massive storage capacity of holographic discs and their read efficiency (which should be faster than any current medium) make Blu-ray look like the final revision of a bygone era.
Got a thought on the next step? Does the possibility of consumer holographic storage by 2008 make you think twice about the 'format wars' going on currently? Tell us your thoughts in our forums