back to article GE tries to refocus image of holographic storage

General Electric has been talking up its holographic storage technology again, reckoning it can succeed where Plasmon and others have failed, because of backward Blu-ray and DVD compatibility. Currently holographic storage products inhabit a graveyard or deep freeze. InPhase is currently seemingly in hibernation - not dead but …


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  1. David Hicks

    Is it that much of an improvement?

    With multi-layer Blu-ray discs up to 400GB in the works, is this really so necessary?

    There's probably a reason holographic storage never took off - it's overly complex and standard optical storage keeps closing the gaps.

  2. The elephant in the room

    Run that mastering process by me again

    I thought the whole point of holographic storage was to write data in 3 dimensions, through the depth of the storage medium as well as its length & width. How can you quickly mould that off a master disc? What am I not understanding? Just laminating 2d layers together isnt really any cleverer than existing multi-layer discs is it?

  3. Chris Miller

    3D movies?

    "Company representatives suggest that an entire 3D movie might be storable on a disk with its technology."

    Ignoring the minor question of whether anyone might want to pay extra to get '3D', why on earth should it need vastly more storage? Unless they're also planning on some form of ultra-HD, the maximum increase would be double, and since the left and right images are (in most cases) almost identical, any decent compression algorithm should be able to get that down to just a few %.

  4. Asgard

    The future is Solid State...

    I can't help thinking the longer term future is in solid state memory. Even a current generation Flash chip (inside its plastic body) is much smaller than the surface area of a CD etc. so even if we use the same surface area of flash chips as a CD has in area, then Flash gives a lot of storage space even now, so give it another 10 years and it'll be a lot higher. Also once chips become 3D (with many 2D chip layers sandwiched together), then its going to have vastly more storage. Also as its a memory chip it'll work even now in 3D, as its only going to be accessing one layer at a time, so power usage isn't going to be a problem.

    So within a decade we are likely to have very high density solid state memory (regardless of if its Flash, Phase Change memory, or Memristor based memory or whatever). Its very likely to be into many Terabytes of storage sizes. With storage this big, it'll be easy to even create redundancy within the chips themselves for customers who wish to configure their storage in this way. Also the chip would only need to be powered up say once every year to then check that all its copies were the same. Each chip would then operate like its own RAID array and then for customers who need very good safe storage, they could create RAID arrays of these RAID array chips to create each drive (then RAID arrays of the drives if they really wish ... if they are really paranoid they could then create RAID arrays of entire data centers (so RAID ^ 4 for the ultimate in paranoid storage)). It won't matter if its using 4, 8 or even 16 copies of all the data as it'll still be smaller and faster storage than physical disk based memory and much easier to access. So I don't think Holographic storage will ever have a chance of growing into a viable business.

    No solution is perfect, so we will alway need redundancy within redundancy etc.. in some form, but I still can't help thinking future solid state memory (in say a decade or less from now) is going to totally wipe out all long term backup storage including any chance Holographic storage will ever succeed.

  5. Steve McIntyre

    UDO wasn't holographic...

    So it's not like holographic storage killed Plasmon. UDO was a conventional high-density blue laser optical disc, sharing some characteristics with BluRay.

  6. Alan Brown 1

    Blu-ray = too expensive

    Have you priced up Blu-ray blanks recently?

    400Gb isn't large enough for backups and Blu-ray's current 25-40 quid apiece for 50Gb blanks is too high for mass market acceptability (it's 5 times the price/Gb I can buy DVD-R media for. DVD-R only took off when it fell below CD-R in price/Mb)

  7. Charles 9


    The manufacturing hurdled involved with Flash and any other solid-state nonvolatile memory are a whole order of magnitude greater than simply "pressing" a disc, especially where prerecorded media is concerned (you can't make memory with content already in it at this point).

  8. Storageman

    Holographic - lab experiment getting attention

    First and foremost I believe this article is referring to enterprise grade archival solutions, not consumer masses. Secondly, holographic is really overkill and will end up where UDO did for obvious reasons. Blu Ray is the future of long term archival storage as long as manufacturers adopt is as a platform to develop upon. The main problem with the optical storage is too many formats and manufacturers trying to control the niche optical market. DVD, Blu Ray, UDO, PDD, MO, now 3D storage gonna be the next thing?

    I strongly believe holographic is just a lab test that's gaining lots of attention and no one is picking it up. As the cost for blu ray goes down everyday due to wide adoption, the casket will be closed on holographic. On Plasmon......everybody knows the story of that. It's no longer an "if", it's a "when" the casket is finally gonna be closed on it. ASTI grossly overpaid for the corpse that was Plasmon and according to insiders, they haven't sold a single box...only collecting on old legacy maintenance service agreements. Like a dead hoesr with just enough food to keep limping. Last we heard their old CEO - Steve Murphy took over some other Disk based storage manufacturer - RelData......we'll see.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Help Me Obi-Wan Kenobi

    holographic displays is what we want, when do we want 'em, we want them now.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    True holographic storage

    Why are we even worrying about with discs?? If true holographic storage (as opposed to "holographics storage" - for "3D" movies) is the goal, we should be dealing with cubic crystals and reading/writing using integrated circuit banks of micro lasers and optics. Each point of data would have six lasers on it, and each point having up to 3 modes (the 6 lasers being broken up into read/write pairs, one pair per axis).

    What the heck happened to that 1 inch cube that stored 1TB in a standard 3.5" housing back in 1998 with 7 ns (yes - ns) seek/read/write times? We should have these suckers running at 50TB by now.

    (Not the article, but a sample from 1994 of what was going on)

  11. Greenalien

    Tape and Optical both have no future

    'Tape owns the game for now' - does it? Our company ditched tape a couple of years ago and replaced the backup system with a pair of removable hard discs for daily backup, and another for archiving monthly data - we just buy a new one every few months when the previous archive is full - and at around £65 for 1TB, and rapid access if any data needs to be recovered, it works well and is cost-effective. Give it a couple of years and solid-state drives will take over, no question. Any storage 'solution' with moving parts is on the verge of obsolescence.

  12. Charles 9

    @ Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps the question you have to ask is, "If this storage medium is truly so spectacular, why isn't it commercially available?" Such a storage leap, if truly viable, would be snapped up by some company in a heartbeat, since it offers a means to leapfrog every standing storage technology on the market (IOW, bookoo $$$). Indeed, that 7ns access time could potentially make it a viable MEMORY as well (that means a solution to the "all-in-one" memory problem--that's game-winning right there).

    After some considerable searching, the only things I've been able to glean from the Net have been advertisements and hearsay--no independent verification of the technology whatsoever. Call me skeptical, but this kind of thing starts raising the needle on my "Too Good To Be True" meter.

  13. boardinmycube
    Thumb Down

    InPhase is broke...

    Someone should start asking why InPhase has chosen not to pay their employees for 6mos??? They are dead, they missed their ship date because they are out of money.

    Nelson Diaz ran the company in the ground...he trashed a good engineering team a couple of years ago when he failed to see the big picture. That guy is out to lunch, everyone around him tells him what is going on, and he chooses not to listen. He just wants his golden parachute.

  14. Paul Shirley

    @Tape and Optical both have no future

    Dead right. Until single optical disks can handle domestic system backups there's no real point having one, hard drives do the casual storage thing better. With systems heading well beyond 1Tb, mostly full of incompressible media holographic capacities are just too small, no-one sits around for a couple of hours to swap discs.

    Hard to see any mass market being created, these drives are perpetually offering this years HD capacity in a few years time. Bluray seems caught in the same trap.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A problem with your math....

    You said in your article that GE quotes '3x faster than DVD', however you compared that to 3x a 16x DVD speed, when I believe that what was intended was 3x a 1X DVD speed. DVD 1X speed is 1500KB/sec, so 3x DVD speed would be 4500KB/sec, or about 4.5MB/sec, which is VERY slow by today's HDD standards.

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