back to article Holographic storage: We're going to do it this time. No, really

Holo-disc start-up hVault, which slurped the blueprints for InPhase Technologies' holographic storage technology, has vowed to breathe life into the technology, with product promised for next year. Of course, we've already passed the spring of 2012, when hVault originally said it would be shipping the kit. We hear noises from …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If it's not a transparent cube then I'm not going to be impressed.

    1. Paw Bokenfohr
      Thumb Up

      Re: cube

      Or B5 Data Crystal shaped.

  2. Miek

    "The slow access time for holographic disks is dealt with ingeniously by the InPhase team at hVault: "It is true that the access time for magnetic media is around a second or so and for holographic storage it can be up to 10 seconds but, when a user tries to access a CNN video link for example, a 10-second commercial fills interest until the content is accessed."

    Sounds absolutely pants, covering up technology flaws with advertising. GFY.

    1. Wize

      I'd rather have the 10 seconds of silence thanks.

      And what about other types of data transfer? If you want to download a program, will you get on-hold music?

      1. Blitterbug

        And what about other types of data transfer?

        Hard to tell. The IHMA link in the article is dead. Ominous much?

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Sounds like they have been speaking with the Argyll and Bute councillors. We are going to solve the problem by telling you it isn't a problem. Now time for a payrise and junket to celebrate!

      It's always reassuring to know you can change reality by simply ignoring it. I shall attempt this technique with the IRS. Previous attempts to be removed from their mailing list have failed.

    3. Rafael 1

      the access time for magnetic media is around a second or so and for holographic storage

      Maybe I need more coffee, but around a second to do what? Transfer a byte, a gigabyte, 300 gigabytes?

      1. fnj

        Re: the access time for magnetic media is around a second or so and for holographic storage

        Basically, getting to the first byte or the one millionth byte of sequential data is very nearly the same timing within any storage technology, and very different between technologies. Tape may be one second if it is already positioned, and many, many seconds to minutes if it is not.

  3. Lee Dowling

    If you can't produce a working example and compare it against standardised hardware (e.g. hard drives and SSD's), then I can't really see what you're trying to sell.

    Honestly? An untested new storage medium that's slow-as-molasses and can be outdone by a £50 hard drive or the next gen of disk-based media? What are you aiming at? Who are you selling to? Why did your former attempt go bankrupt if it's so good and what everyone wanted?

    With anything computing, I list my requirements and then buy what suits - whether personal or professional. My personal requirements for my own personal laptop for the storage upgrade I plan (which will be in the next few years) are: sizes over 1Tb, reliability for MY lifetime (not just that of the laptop/PC it's stored in), re-writability for that entire lifetime, access speeds enough to notice the difference and up to maxing out my SATA II interface (above that, I consider wasteful), and fits in a 2.5" drive space. And costing less than my laptop did.

    Currently, that puts it firmly in the realm of easily-obtainable sub-£100 spinning-disk drives. I'm hoping that when the time comes for me to actually need it, it will be an SSD instead, but I'm happy to compromise for one more upgrade (and only because of cost / reliability than any of the other factors). If you can't even match the kind of thing I consider a small upgrade for a personal computer in your specs, just who do you think will pay through the nose for this untested, unstandardised technology?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      My understanding is that this type of storage is trying to tackle a fairly specialised application which is the *very* long term storage of vast quantities of information in which you don't have to keep taking the media out of storage for refresh.

      That's a serious problem for some types of library applications where speedy access is not a prerequisite.

      I would imagine that it is a pretty niche application at the moment, but when we hear ominous warnings from commentators about media, programs, games, artwork, literature etc being lost because the only copies are on media that is designed to only last about 5 or 10 years. Although not exactly an analog, but look what happened to the Star Wars masters, almost lost because of the longevity (or lack) of the storage media.

      Not everything needs to be kept for ever, but it would be a real shame if some things were lost.

      1. Lee Dowling

        Then probably best NOT to use some fancy-pants technology that's pretty untested and only run by one company (which has already gone bankrupt once and had to be rescued), don'tchathink?

        It's the BBC Domesday project all over again. And 320Gb of "long-term storage" is pitiful, and probably doesn't even compare to a SATA SSD or even a decent piece of Flash/EEPROM if you really have that kind of need.

  4. Crisp

    No Zettabyte drives yet then?

    Windows 11 is probably going to need at least an Exabyte just to install.

  5. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    "A 10-second commercial fills interest"

    No it sodding doesn't. A 10-second commercial will probably have me staying where I am.

  6. Ben Liddicott

    A cabinet full of 2TB drives is a petabyte.

    Surely you have heard you can get bigger than 300 GB disks.

    1. Annihilator Silver badge

      Re: A cabinet full of 2TB drives is a petabyte.

      RTA - they were talking about a cabinet full of the holographic storage devices, which are 300GB each.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A cabinet full of 2TB drives is a petabyte.

        yeah, but a 2tb HDD is 2000 GB's, which last i checked is 6(nearly 7) times larger than 300.

        So, yeah, if these 'holograms' are really freaking small, and you can therefore fit more in your rack, than you can HDD, then fine. Otherwise, jog on.

        1. Sloppy Crapmonster

          Re: A cabinet full of 2TB drives is a petabyte.


          1) Digitize the holograms

          2) Store the digitized copies on hard drives

          3) there's no step three!

  7. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    50-Year lifetime

    The media may well last 50-years, but will there still be hardware (& Software !) capable of reading it in 50 years ? The classic example of this problem is the BBC Domsday project. T'was only a few years before they were practically unreadable.

    So far, the only long-term storage systems I've seen that works, and continues to work, over a long duration are things like paper & papyrus.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: 50-Year lifetime

      Scribing things onto cave walls has been proved to be even more long-term than either paper or papyrus :) The downside with this is that while the media is still readable, the context and meaning has been lost so we have to make that bit up.

      If there's a shortage of cave walls then scratching things onto bits of cave walls - as in stone slabs or when there's a shortage of these, making your own out of clay, has been proven to be quite long lasting as well.

      1. Crisp

        Re: 50-Year lifetime

        Where can I buy a 5.25" stone tablet engraver for my PC?

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: 50-Year lifetime

          Where can I buy a 5.25" stone tablet engraver for my PC?

          PC World probably sell them - everything else they have tends to be a generation or two old at higher than current prices.

          1. Blitterbug

            Re: PC World probably sell them

            ...but don't pay for the 'With Norton 360' package...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 50-Year lifetime

      microfiches have easily of 500 Years and are likly to be readable in a few hundred years

      readable with simple optical means. Same as a stone slab, just with a higher information density, so that you need a lense.

    3. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: 50-Year lifetime

      I think it means will the media still be viable rather than the data that are on it. Cryptographers will always find a way of reading it if the data itself are still intact.

    4. fishman

      Re: 50-Year lifetime

      CDs / DVDs have enough momentum in the system that there will be readers for them for quite a long time - maybe not 50 years, but at least 25 years.

      It may mean that every 10 years or so you have to copy all of your archived data to a new format. Hoepfully capacities will keep on increasing which would make the effort to copy less.

    5. Christian Berger

      Video tape

      Video tape has already proven to last for 50 years. If you store it properly you can just pop it into a VTR (which still are fairly commonplace) and play it. The only problem is that the plastic of the tape dissolves if it's improperly stored.

    6. Volker Hett

      Re: 50-Year lifetime

      And leave some rosetta stones next to the papyrus ...

  8. Flatpackhamster


    Don't verbificate a noun, it makes me sad.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Productise"

      I'm sadized.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Productise"

      "Verbing weirds language"

      Calvin, of Calvin and Hobbes.

  9. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Data longevity

    Easy on tape - just migrate the archival stuff to the new generation media as it becomes available, I have that automated and have been through 3 generational changes in the last decade.

    As for DVDs - forget it! The sandwich construction of R/RW media makes them very fragile and _any_ flexing of the media will reduce the shelf life to ~18 months (Tested and verified.)

    CD-Rs fare only slightly better thanks to dye fade(We had to read 500 decade-old CDRs stored under optimal conditions and only got 497 back). CDRW on the other hand have no issues at all.

    If holographic media works I'll be happy, but I need at least the same kind of data density as LTO-6 or it's a non-starter.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    "...We had to read 500 decade-old CDRs stored under optimal conditions ..."

    Wow! —those ancient Egyptians were even more technologically advanced than I thought.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


  12. CatW

    No Competition

    They claim there is 'no competition' but firstly thats probably why the InPhase company went tits up and secondly, never mind SSD, carbon memory will be here in a year or so offering 100 billion bits per inch and a billion year life!

    Makes you wonder what data we might 'find' in carbon?!

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