Company makes stone-like optical discs that last forever

Written by Antony Leather

August 11, 2011 // 10:57 a.m.

Tags: #blu-ray #cd #dvd #hitachi-lg #m-disc #millenniata #optical-disc

Millenniata and Hitachi-LG Data Storage are working on a new type of optical disk they claim lasts forever.

According to Computerworld the new disc, called the M-Disc, is made from a stone-like natural substance, which is highly resistant to punishment and data rot. Millenniata CEO Scott Shumway stated that the latter occurs with all types of disc storage, however, while the M-Disc platters are made up of multiple layers, there's no reflective or die layer.

A laser simply etches pits into the substrate material that are permanent and far tougher than the methods used with CDs and DVDs. The company went as far as saying that the discs could be dipped in liquid nitrogen and then into boiling water, without any damage being evident.

Despite the new material and manufacturing technique, the discs will be compatible with current DVD players, with just a firmware upgrade required. Millenniata also plans Blu-ray format discs in the future too, although it's still limited by slow write speeds with DVDs of 4x or 5.28MB/sec.

CDs and DVDs suffer from oxidation due to de-lamination of the layers of polycarbonate used in their construction, and the dye layer can also break down over time - both factors hastening the point at which a disc would become unreadable. According to the article, the DVD industry claims lifespans of 50-100 years. In the worst scenario, though, such as prolonged exposure to heat or just direct sunlight, the life expectancy can be reduced to just a few years.

The M-disc was pitched against other media in a 2009 test undertaken by the US Defense Department's Naval Air Warfare Weapon's Division facility in California. The report states:

'None of the Millenniata media suffered any data degradation at all. Every other brand tested showed large increases in data errors after the stress period. Many of the discs were so damaged that they could not be recognized as DVDs by the disc analyser'

The M-Disc will be marketed at consumers first, but should prove popular with corporate archives looking for ways to store data for long periods of time. There's no word on pricing yet though.

Do you worry about your CDs and DVD becoming unreadable in the years to come? Would you be interested in the M-Disc? Let us know in the forum.
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