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Pioneer Electron Beam DVD 302

Posted by michael
from the around-the-corner dept.
wordboy writes "Pioneer Electronics just announced that they will introduce an electron-beam recorder for next-generation optical data storage. The electron beam is much finer than that of a typical laser so they are able to achieve densities of 50GB or more with a standard 12cm disc. But can it cook my TV dinner, too?"
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Pioneer Electron Beam DVD

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  • Thing is... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:05PM (#8765610)
    This technology is still about 10 years out there (at the very least). Electron beams have low tolerance to vibration, and are better for stationary media, at this point. But the same thing was said about laser in the 70's, so likely the media will be over built to support error correction, like laser disks were.

    Vibration, however, isn't the biggest hurdle to over come. Since it's likely the media will not be stored in a vacuum, this system will have to compensate for dust and other particles in a much more robust way than the current laser based systems.

    Remember IO Meg's Jazz Drive? It sucked because the drive wasn't in a vaccume. That wasn't even laser based, it was magnetic media. Imagine how much of a problem it will be with subatomic particles.

    But the truly biggest hurdle will be the price. The media will likely be based on platinum, and I don't see how writable media will be possible any time soon.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Iomega
    • Re:Thing is... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jmv (93421) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:19PM (#8765714) Homepage
      Imagine how much of a problem it will be with subatomic particles.

      We're nowhere near subatomic here. In order to fit 50 GB on a disk, the bits will probably be in the hundreds of nanometers large. That's still much larger than atoms.
      • "...the bits will probably be in the hundreds of nanometers large. That's still much larger than atoms."

        OT, but this reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend of mine about quantum computers. It took her a second to realize why I had a funny look on my face when she said "Imagine what you could do with only a handful of atoms."
    • Re:Thing is... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mostly a lurker (634878) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:31PM (#8765801)
      This technology is still about 10 years out there (at the very least).

      The announcement indicates that they are planning to start commercial shipments almost immediately. Pioneer has been working on this stuff for over 10 years already. You are probably right that this will initially be pretty expensive. Nevertheless, this is an important announcement, indicating that real progress on a key technology has been made.

      As an aside, the Iomega Jaz drive was initially a good product. There were two main problems: they cut corners on both the drive and the media in later revisions; and they never owned up to the "clicking" problem, thus causing many people to unnecessarily lose data.

    • Wow, did you make up most of that?

      The media has to be based on platinum? According to who?

      Dust has never a problem with CDs, I don't see how increasing data densities will change this.

      CD's have lots of vibration, that's why there is active filtering mechanisms that componsate to move the laser around. The same thing could be done with the electronc beam within a few wavelengths of light or less.

      I don't remember any of IOmega's products ever being very reliable, it's not fair to compare new CD technologi
      • Re:Thing is... (Score:3, Informative)

        by ColaMan (37550)
        Also for CD's (and DVD's etc) the clear plastic layer acts as part of the focusing lens in the system, which makes it a hell of a lot easier for optical alignment. It also makes it easier to "see" through fingerprints/dust etc - the beam isn't completely focused until it passes through the plastic
    • Maybe not... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Monday April 05, 2004 @12:04AM (#8766005) Homepage
      This technology is still about 10 years out there (at the very least). Electron beams have low tolerance to vibration, and are better for stationary media, at this point. But the same thing was said about laser in the 70's, so likely the media will be over built to support error correction, like laser disks were.

      Not necessarily true. Technology in areas of electronic production that limited the development of the laser disk in the 70's has improved, it's just not the same world. Stability should not be as much as a problem. As to price, sure it will be spendy when it first comes out, but more often than not, that has little to do with actual production cost.

    • Predicted in 1945... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ron_ivi (607351) <sdotno@@@cheapcomplexdevices...com> on Monday April 05, 2004 @12:32AM (#8766125)
      This storage device was also predicted by Vannevar Bush [theatlantic.com] before the transistor was invened back in 1945.
      "
      Existing totals could then be read by photocell, and the new total entered by an electron beam.
      "

      Pretty cool foresight.

      • by cubic6 (650758)
        He's talking about using the kind of electron beam used inside a TV to write sales totals on a photograph card. Not really related. I'm not really very impressed with this guy. He predicted a lot of solid ideas, but his implementations were short-sighted. He didn't predict the transistor, so his department-store cash register was based on punch cards and dry photographs.
    • by ron_ivi (607351) <sdotno@@@cheapcomplexdevices...com> on Monday April 05, 2004 @12:36AM (#8766144)
      Parent wrote: "Vibration, however, isn't the biggest hurdle to over come. Since it's likely the media will not be stored in a vacuum, this system will have to compensate for dust and other particles in a much more robust way than the current laser based systems. "

      This article from the Atlantic Monthly [theatlantic.com] has a recommended workaround for the problems of an electron beam for this kind of storage system not being well-behaved outside a vacuum.

      More serious is the objection that this scheme would involve putting the film inside a vacuum chamber, for electron beams behave normally only in such a rarefied environment. This difficulty could be avoided by allowing the electron beam to play on one side of a partition, and by pressing the film against the other side, if this partition were such as to allow the electrons to go through perpendicular to its surface, and to prevent them from spreading out sideways. Such partitions, in crude form, could certainly be constructed, and they will hardly hold up the general development.
      Too bad the author didn't survive to see this technology work. Guess he was a bit before his time.
    • Re:Thing is... (Score:5, Informative)

      by cerulean (99519) on Monday April 05, 2004 @12:41AM (#8766169) Homepage
      "Read the Fine Article" -- this technology is for writing the master discs in factories. It probably takes a pretty big, scary looking machine to do it, too.

      Once the media is written with this technique, it will be read in Blu-ray devices; that just takes a laser diode around 400 nm in wavelength. Such diodes aren't exactly common or cheap these days, but they are commercially available, and they're already being used in commercial Blu-ray players.
    • RTFA (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fm6 (162816)
      All of which assumes that they're looking to make a portable electron-beam disc player. That's not at all what they're talking about. They specifically say that this is a tech for mastering discs. For playback, you'd use Blu-Ray [blu-ray.com] or something similar. That would be more advanced than anything on the market now, but it's still just a plain old-fashioned laser.
    • by g0at (135364)
      It sucked because the drive wasn't in a vaccume

      Don't you have that backwards?

      -b
  • by dolo666 (195584) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:05PM (#8765612) Journal
    I must steal this Electron Beam Device you speak of, so that I may destroy Spiderman forever!!!
  • SEM? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:06PM (#8765620) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if this technology could be used to create inexpensive scanning electron beam microscopes? (As seen in Blade Runner).

    • Re:SEM? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Go to auctions of industrial supplies and those held by universities. One of the ledgends of my engineering department in college was of a guy who bought an SEM and set it up in his living room for $250. Now when the element went out he probably would be out about 4 grand or so, but still. It's pretty cool.

      In really SEM's aren't *that* fancy, if everyone decided that they were the next must have thing, I can't imagine they'd cost much more than a plasma HDTV. Ultrasound machines are the same way. They
    • by be-fan (61476)
      I dunno about electron-beam microscopes, but you can make your own scanning-tunnling microscopes at home. Not great quality, but its doable. I knew somebody in high-school who did it as a senior-year project. He used a thin wire (apparently, cutting it with a dull scissor gets pretty close to a few-atoms-thick point) and some piezo buzzers from radio-shack for actuators. If you had better piezo actuators, you could probably get a lot better quality.
  • It still (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Ancients (626689) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:08PM (#8765627) Homepage
    consists of moving parts :(

    Is it just me, or is the wait for solid state storage a long one?

    ..k

    • I think price will always be a hurdle for solid state storage. Well that and memory chips etc.. are very expensive to create while optical media is very very cheap...

      --D3X
      • Indeed.

        As fast as my computer gets, as broad as my internet connection becomes, it seems I still spend too much time sitting here listening to the sound of spinning discs.

        The price of storage has dropped though, as the 1GB RAM chips I bought recently were cheaper than the 32MB chips I bought 5 years or so ago (I can't remember the exact year). I guess I will continue to bide my time.

        ..k

      • I think price will always be a hurdle for solid state storage.

        I think you're missing his point. The fact that solid state is *still* not low priced is what the grandparent was commenting as suprising.
      • The real problem is that you can only write/rewrite on solid state memory a certain number of times. Until that hurdle is jumped over it can never be used for permanent/semi-permanent storage.
    • Re:It still (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jerf (17166)
      What are you talking about? Solid state storage is here, today, now [bestbuy.com]. (If that link stops working, search for "removable flash drives" as a category.)

      If you're waiting for solid state to be as capacious as moving parts, you're going to be waiting forever; almost by definition, a moving part device will have more volume available to store data in then a solid-state device. (No matter how large your solid-state device, I can create a DVD-like disk even today that holds more then your solid-state device, for r
      • What are you talking about? Solid state storage is here, today, now [bestbuy.com]. (If that link stops working, search for "removable flash drives" as a category.)

        *sigh*... you're missing the point.... the grandparent was referring to *real* solid state storage, not 1-2 gigs. Figure out how much it will cost you (and how many units you'll have to get) in order to get 100 gigs of solid state storage vs. a 100 gig drive. Still ready to go to BestBuy? I didn't think so.
        • But everyone is so obsessed with MORE MORE MORE that in a few years when they have 100GB solid state devices people, just like you, will be saying: "those aren't 'real': they aren't big enough!" Because you'll just HAVE to have the latest programs and highest quality videos et cetera on your computer and 100GB won't be enough for your consumption.
        • Re:It still (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Jerf (17166) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:56PM (#8765962) Journal
          *sigh*... you're missing the point.... the grandparent was referring to *real* solid state storage, not 1-2 gigs.

          Drop that "1-2 gigs" of storage back in time to yourself ten years ago and tell me it's not "real storage".

          1-2 gigs holds damn near everything of interest to me in my life, including a book-length essay I spent three years on, all the digital photos I have, all the source code I've ever written, the source to all the music I've ever written, every website I've ever done, and all the misc. other data I consider critical, and would still have, well, nearly 1-2 gigs left over since all of the above clocks in at around 300 MB. Any storage that can back up all my critical data is real in my book, even though it holds only a fraction of my MP3 collection... this year.
          • by autopr0n (534291)
            I've taken about 5gb of pictures so far this year. No not porn (unforunetly :P), just snapping random pictures.

            If I had a video camera, I'm sure I'd want a lot more space. But I agree. "1-2 gigs" is a lot. About twice as much as my first hard drive, and more then enough to install linux.
        • Re:It still (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Mr. Slippery (47854) <(ten.suomafni) (ta) (smt)> on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:57PM (#8765964) Homepage
          the grandparent was referring to *real* solid state storage, not 1-2 gigs.

          Some of us remember a time when "real" storage was 30 megs.

          Point being, yesterday's idea of "real" storage is avilable in solid state. By the time today's idea of "real" storage is avilable, today will be yesterday. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    • Whatever. (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Solid state storage is overrated. Here at Infinium Labs we have gone beyond solid and liquid state for the Phantom console, and prefer to use something we call "vapour state."

      I eagerly await the day when other companies will catch up to this revolutionary technology.

      -- Tim

    • by autopr0n (534291)
      I can go out and buy a 256mb memory stick today for $100 or so, or get a solid-state Mp3 player with 4gb of capacity for $250 (I forget what it was, but not the mini iPod, which uses a hard drive).

      In any event, non-solid state memory is always going to be a lot cheaper.
  • full article (Score:5, Informative)

    by nuclear305 (674185) * on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:08PM (#8765631)
    I found this interesting; so here's the full article just in case

    Tokyo, Japan, Apr 2, 2004 - (JCN Newswire) - Pioneer Corporation and its subsidiary, Pioneer FA Corporation, announced today that they have jointly developed a high-precision electron beam recorder (EBR) by utilizing their fine-processing technology and equipment technology, which will make it easier to manufacture master discs for next-generation optical discs such as Blu-ray Discs. Pioneer FA will start selling the new high-precision EBR in early April, 2004.

    In the conventional optical-disc mastering process, many disc manufacturers have been using laser beam recorders (LBR), which utilize ultraviolet (UV) lasers or deep-ultraviolet (Deep-UV) lasers as light source. Pioneer's high-precision EBR employs an electron beam as a recording beam to sharply narrow the beam diameter, which can realize even finer pattern processing in the mastering process, compared with LBRs.

    The high-precision EBR also achieves high levels of record-positioning accuracy, thanks to the high-precision recording position control technology, which the Pioneer group developed when it started with production of Laser Discs. Pioneer's EBR can manufacture master discs for high-density optical discs including Blu-ray discs, as well as Discrete Track Media and Patterned Media - higher-density hard disks regarded as highly promising future technologies.

    Since Pioneer's Corporate R&D Laboratories began basic research on a high-precision EBR in 1993, its results have been presented at academic conferences and study groups. In the meantime, Pioneer's high-precision EBR technology has been highly evaluated as a key technology indispensable for the development of next-generation discs. In addition to that, the demand for such technology has been growing. Accordingly, Pioneer has decided to launch this high-precision EBR.

    Pioneer FA expects that the market will expand and plans on promoting the development of next generation EBRs to realize even higher-density recording together with Pioneer.

    Main Features:
    1) Stable electron beam emission with a large current by utilizing a thermal/field type emitter.
    2) Large, high-density recording capacity of 50GB or more on one side of a 12 cm disc.
    3) High track-pitch accuracy.
    4) High productivity with a load-lock chamber

    [Main Specifications]

    Electron beam emitter: Thermal/field emission type
    Acceleration voltage: 50kV
    Modulation speed: 6ns or lower (10% to 90%)
    Beam deflector: 2-stage, bi-directional, 10ns or lower (10% to 90%)
    Objective lens aperture: 4 positions selectable
    Beam diameter/Beam current: 80nm/90nA or more
    Spindle motor: Vacuum seal air spindle motor
    Rotation speed 60rpm - 2,400rpm
    Substrate: Silicone wafer (max. 8 inches)
    Focus control: Optical height sensor (range: +/-250micon)
    Stage position sensor: Laser interferometer (resolution ability: 0.6nm)

  • by AyeRoxor! (471669) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:08PM (#8765633) Journal
    That's microwaves. Electron beams are what make your TV work. This is pretty amazing if they get this down to consumer price.
    • by stevelinton (4044) <sal@dcs.st-and.ac.uk> on Monday April 05, 2004 @07:15AM (#8767599) Homepage
      This is pretty amazing if they get this down to consumer price.


      Their is no suggestion that this is a device aimed at the consumer market. They are selling this as a way to make the master disks used to press consumer disks.

  • by Chordonblue (585047) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:09PM (#8765639) Homepage Journal
    You realize of course that the type of media involved here would almost certainly need to be incased in some sort of plastic sheath (Like the Blu-Ray HD DVDs). One scratch and you'd be done!

    Not as portable, and certainly not as cheap to produce. A format like this would be a godsend for admins who do backups but as a common medium... Well, I imagine it might get as popular as something like Super Audio CD's or CD+G's for music.

    In other words, not very much...

    • by Shoten (260439) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:17PM (#8765693)
      I don't think so; it's no longer a matter of optics, so optical deformities in the surface of the disk would not be an issue. And since I would guess the material that made up the disk itself would need only to be relatively transparent to the electron beam, it could be a lot less scratch-prone than lexan. The bigger problem might be certain kinds of dust, with unpredictable qualities that could affect the path or focus of the beam.
      • by Idarubicin (579475) <allsquiet@hotmailBOYSEN.com minus berry> on Monday April 05, 2004 @01:11AM (#8766323) Journal
        And since I would guess the material that made up the disk itself would need only to be relatively transparent to the electron beam, it could be a lot less scratch-prone than lexan. The bigger problem might be certain kinds of dust, with unpredictable qualities that could affect the path or focus of the beam.

        Actually, the big problem with any sort of electron beam technology outside of a controlled industrial environment is that they scatter readily. In a vacuum you haven't got any problems (over moderate distances) but even introducing air into the system can create significant scatter.

        Electrons also suck at pentrating anything more solid than air. Electrons at, say, 10 kV won't penetrate more than a few microns into a layer of plastic; they'll travel an even shorter distance into a metallic surface. They'll be useless for high precision work after travelling several tens of nanometers.

        Unfortunately, solid materials relatively transparent to electrons don't exist, and can't be made from regular matter. Electrons are deflected by charge--and matter is made up of charged particles.

        This technique is confined to the factory. It is designed for 'pressing' master discs. Until the inside of your computer's case can maintain a vibration free environment (no fan, no other drives), tolerates high magnetic and electric fields for the electron optics (goodbye hard disk) tolerates high voltages, and can supply a good vacuum, and can apply a high quality coating after the disc is 'burned', this isn't going to show up on the desktop.

    • A format like this would be a godsend for admins who do backups

      Not really. You can already get DLT drives [buy.com] that hold 320 GB and transfer data at 32 MBps. At only 50 GB, you would probably need to swap discs, which is a real pain.

    • This technology is going to be used to press blu-ray DVDs and other high-end optical formats, which will then be read by a laser.
  • by djcreamy (729099) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:10PM (#8765644) Homepage
    All my porn on one DVD? All my eggs in one basket? Don't think so.
    • All my porn on one DVD? All my eggs in one basket? Don't think so.

      So, do you use double density or single density diskettes? By my calculations, you would need 35,556 1.44MB diskettes (ignoring space wastage). Hope you have got them well indexed!

  • by BJZQ8 (644168) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:10PM (#8765645) Homepage Journal
    That's an electron beam, not a microwave beam. It won't cook your dinner. It might show you bacteria growing on your food, though.
  • Decay? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ObviousGuy (578567) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:10PM (#8765646) Homepage Journal
    We know that CD-Rs and DVD-Rs decay over time as the chemicals holding the data inside the discs slowly deteriorate.

    What kind of lifespans are we looking at for this kind of media?
  • I would imagine it needs new disks for this, for starters. Even if it doesn't, though, it talks about master disks - does that mean that this method of manufacturing is only affordable to large companies to distribute many copies of something?
    In that case, what do we, the users, need to read it? More accurate lasers?
    Regardless, more = better.
  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:12PM (#8765663) Homepage
    So if I want a DVD Recorder, soon my options will be:

    • Normal DVD+R(W)
    • Normal DVD-R(W)
    • Double Layer DVD+R(W)
    • Double Layer DVD-R(W)
    • Sony's new UMD (seen is PSP)
    • Blu-Ray (Sony is pushing this too, possibly the PS3 media of choice)
    • This new Electron one
    • ...And there is probably at least 1 or 2 others that I can't think of right now.

    Makes VHS vs Beta simple, huh? Let's hope most of this gets sorted out before it gets to most consumers.

    • .. and the HP (?) DVD recorder where it etches an image on the top side with the same laser that burns the data on the bottom eliminating the need for a stick-on-label. i don't recall if the DVD format itself is new/different or not. the media itself is different tho (has to have that etchablity on the top side).
    • A few thoughts: The UMD probably won't show up in a burnable format anytime soon, Blu-ray is a generation after DVD-R/+R and all that (competing with HD-DVD) and "This new Electron one" is a generation after that. So yeah, I don't like hasseling with +R and -R and all that either, but you're exaggurating a bit. Besides, most DVD burners today burn both + and - formats, so it's not that huge of a deal (that type of thing does seem a quite unlikely for Blu-ray and HD-DVD, though.)
      • This tech is just another way of pressing CDs and other optical media, including Blu-ray disks, up to 50gb/disk.
    • That would be a problem if you couldn't buy a drive that does all of the first four formats you described.

      Don't know if UMD will be very popular outside of Sony products, just look at the Memory Stick, MiniDisc or Digital 8 tapes.

      Blu-Ray is pretty new, don't think I'd worry about it yet.

  • Gackpth (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Azureflare (645778) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:14PM (#8765671)
    Good lord, 50gb?

    How long would that take to burn? Lesse... If we have standard 4x, that would mean 50gb in 20 minutes... which would mean, hmm..
    50*1024=51200Mb
    51200/(20*60)= ~43megs/second.

    Wow. My hard drive can't even transfer over 10 megs per second to a second hard drive in my computer. I can see why this technology is still quite a far way off.... I would have to seriously upgrade my whole system if this came along even in a couple of years!

    • Wow. My hard drive can't even transfer over 10 megs per second to a second hard drive in my computer.

      Then you have serious issuses. Make sure the drives are on a different ata chains if possible. Also check to make sure you have appropriate DMA drivers installed. If you have already done this and the transfer between the two drives is still at 10 megs then you need to look into replacing the actual ata cables with new, non-rounded, non-cheap cables. Even on the same chain you should be seeing higher dr

    • Re:Gackpth (Score:5, Informative)

      by russianspy (523929) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:42PM (#8765863)
      I've seen two year old laptops do about 20Megs/s. If you're running linux, use a program called hdparm. Try running this as root: hdparm -d 1 -u 1 -c 1 /dev/hda You can test the performance with: hdparm -t -T /dev/hda Repeat as necessary for each HD. Also put it somewhere where it will be executed at bootup. For reference, My Maxtor 80Gig drive does rougly 50Megs/s. My Sata drive usually does above 70.
    • Who's saying that 4x will be 20 minutes anyway? What if 1x takes two hours to burn? Then 4x would be 30 minutes, right? I'm pretty sure the speed ratings come from the "typical" data which gets written on the disk (e.g. with a CD 1x is the time taken to play the CD in a CD player.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:15PM (#8765680)
    People seem to be missing the fact that this is a device for creating master discs, rather than an end-user product. The 50GB limit is what can be read by the optical devices the mass-produced copies of this master disc will eventually be played on.
  • by Insanity (26758) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:21PM (#8765733)
    According to the article, this technology has been developed for creating master discs for the upcoming blue laser optical standards. Currently, this is being done with UV lasers.

    This will probably never be used as the basis of a consumer recordable format - we don't even have consumer-level blue laser drives yet. Furthermore, we could realize a significant increase in capacity over blue laser by using UV lasers, which will probably be the trend after blue proves to be too limiting.

    This article has practically no applicability to the average slashdot reader - it's not an "electron beam dvd" as the title of the article suggets. Editors should really read the articles they post...
  • But can it cook my TV dinner, too?

    Well, I'm no physics wiz but as a matter of fact... YES! [cplire.ru]
  • by John Jorsett (171560) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:21PM (#8765740)
    But can it cook my TV dinner, too?"

    No, but put a silicon blank in it and it can etch you a new CPU.

  • Case or Caddie? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Neuticle (255200) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:24PM (#8765765) Homepage
    Oh for the love of God I hope they put this in a caddie of some sort to protect it. I'm still upset that DVDs are bare media.
    CDs get bad enough skipps, DVDs are worse, what's going to happen to this next generation media when it gets scratched? Will a scratch obliterate several hundred megs? At some point error correction just doesn't cut it, a protective caddie is a necessity here.

    As for HD-DVD or Blu-ray or this e-beam stuff, if one doesn't use a caddie, don't support it. We shouldn't have our media ruined if they don't get treated perfectly. If I was one for conspiracy theories, I'd think DVD is one to get us to buy the same thing over and over since the discs are so fragile.
    • by Brobock (226116) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:42PM (#8765862) Homepage
      If I was one for conspiracy theories, I'd think DVD is one to get us to buy the same thing over and over

      You mean like this [amazon.com].

      The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers (Platinum Series Special Extended Edition)
      The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers (Widescreen Edition)
      The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers (Full Screen Edition)
      The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers (Platinum Series Special Extended Edition Collector's Gift Set)
      The Lord Of The Rings - The Motion Picture Trilogy (Widescreen Edition)
      The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring / The Two Towers (Widescreen Editions) (2-Pack)
      The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers (Super Turbo Championship Edition)
  • by blair1q (305137) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:34PM (#8765816) Journal
    Just when you thought CRT technology was dead, they bring it back as a memory device.

    This world will look like the set of Brazil before we know it.
    • some early machines used CRT's with photodiodes mounted to the front of them to store bits. A dot on the screen would be seen by the diode, and then refreshed in a feedback loop.

  • by taxman_10m (41083) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:37PM (#8765836)
    With new scenes never before seen in theaters, on Laserdisc, VHS, or DVD!
  • by gnuman99 (746007) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:46PM (#8765896)
    Electron beam emitter: Thermal/field emission type
    Acceleration voltage: 50kV

    So are we in the X-ray range yet? Will the drive be enclosed with lead and have a prominent sticker on it WARNING: Radiation Hazard ?

  • by Cutie Pi (588366) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @11:50PM (#8765923)
    Everyone seems to be missing the point of this article. Pioneer's technology is for making the master discs, which are used to stamp the read layers of DVDs. This technology is not for burning high capacity media.

    It is essentially the same tech that the semiconductor industry has been using for years (decades?) to create masks for photolithography.

    I can't imagine how an electron beam recording system would make it into a consumer product. These systems have essentially the same precision technology that scanning electon microscopes have, i.e. they ain't cheap. Plus, it's not just a matter of throwing a master disc "blank" into the unit and pressing go. There are several process steps.
  • This is not going to be a CD burner that you plug into your PC. This is just for mastering discs for mass production. It says the readers will just use a blue laser:

    "Pioneer's EBR can manufacture master discs for high-density optical discs including Blu-ray discs, as well as Discrete Track Media and Patterned Media - higher-density hard disks regarded as highly promising future technologies."

  • by Dr. Null (737669) on Monday April 05, 2004 @12:16AM (#8766053)
    This system is for producing high-resolution master disks to be used for high volume Blue laser DVD "stamping". The point is to make the master at a much higher resolution than the wavelength of light used to read that data. If you are going to use a Blue laser to read that data, then you need to use deep UV laser to generate the master (difficult). Instead of short wavelength light, they are using an electron beam, which can easily be focused to a nanometer sized spot using well known E beam write technology. This technique is slow, but you only have to produce one master disk to run off millions of stamped copies.
    Note also that the master disk must be written in a hard vacuum (~10^-7 Torr). I suspect the system is actually a modified electron microscope, similar to widely available Focused Ion Beam (FIB) semiconductor processing equipment.

    Dr. Null
  • Whoa... Time Out! (Score:4, Informative)

    by jmh_az (666904) * on Monday April 05, 2004 @12:33AM (#8766128) Journal
    I'm wondering how many people actually bothered to read the referenced article...

    If I'm not mistaken the article is talking about media mastering, not playback. There's a BIG difference there. Also, the article mentions that the market is expanding, which implies that they have either already sold some units or plan to do so real soon, not 10 years out as someone claimed.

    Another point: If you read the specs attached to the article you'll notice the phrase "Vacuum seal air spindle motor". Unless they're referring to something different than what I've worked with, that means getting a rotating mechanism into a vacuum chamber using either a magnetic coupled drive shaft or a rotary vacuum seal.

    And for those of you wondering how an electron beam DVD device is going to work with your current PC: Well, the simple answer is that it won't. Not unless you have a vacuum chamber sitting next to your PC and bunch of multi-stage pumps and gas traps sitting underneath. Electrons don't remain focused and usable for very long outside of a vacuum. They tend to either dissapate or show up as sparks or arcs.

    And, lastly, to answer someone's question about a homemade SEM. Yeah, you can build one, and it's been discussed [foresight.org] before. It's really not that hard, just expensive (you'll need the previously mentioned vacuum pumps and assorted plumbing, and a couple of precision power supplies in the 10 to 50KV range will come in handy as well).

  • by gcondon (45047) on Monday April 05, 2004 @01:48AM (#8766511)
    No, it's not the burn time or the proliferation of incompatible burner types for your desktop PC - this technology is for mastering discs at the factory (RTFA, people).

    No, it's not the electron wavelength which, by the way, is only weakly dependent on beam energy (the 50 keV of kinetic enery is still small potatoes compared to the 511 MeV electron rest mass - back to physics 101 for you).

    The REAL problem is building the electron emitters. In order to focus the electron beam to a very fine spot, the initial supply of electrons has to be very monoenergetic (monochromatic in optics parlance). This is because charged particle optics are very susceptible to chromatic abberration, where the focal length of a lens is a function of wavelength. Furthermore, since charged particle optics rely exclusively on electromagnetic fields, they cannot leverage all the trickery used in conventional optics to circumvent this effect.

    Well, there are a couple of ways to obtain the initial monochromatic source of electrons. First, you can use a traditional thermionic electron emitter (think hot wire) at the input of a crossed field velocity selector (look it up). Unfortunately, that is very inefficient with respect to beam flux (or "luminosity").

    The other primary option is to use a cold electron emission source such as "field emission" in which electrons quantum mechanically tunnel out of the cathode under the influence of a very strong electric field. This emission mechanism is specifically mentioned in the article. Typically, this requires an extremely sharp cathode (10s of nanometers), like an etched wire, to achieve the required electric fields at its sharpest point using reasonable voltages (10s - 100s of kV).

    Now, here's the tricky bit. With such a high & spatially inhomogeneous electric field, every polarizable particle (like gas molecules) in the chamber will be drawn to the region of highest field strength via a process call dielectrophoresis (the same effect used to separate DNA strands in gel sequencing). Since the highest field region is also the very small tunneling region producing the beam, even a single gas molecule can "poison" the emitter by adsorbing to the surface and shutting down the field emission process.

    Even in extremely high vacuum (10^-10 torr and better) the lifetime of "standard" field emitters is typically much too short for industrial purposes. One solution is too build an array of microfabricated emitters for redundancy (the so-called "Spindt cathodes") but that involves its own challenges. Add in the outgassing that is sure to arise from the "burning" process and you've got quite a mess.

    Personally, I'd be very interested to know what the mean lifetime of their field emitters is and how is it achieved. Increasing this lifetime, especially for microfabricated emitters, is one of the great challenges in vacuum microelectronics. If solved, the field emission display, essentially an honest-to-goodness flat-panel CRT, could become a viable technology to compete with LCDs, plasma and emergent technologies like large-format OLEDs.
  • Woops (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ZeroExistenZ (721849) on Monday April 05, 2004 @02:06AM (#8766559)
    Woops seems I was just to late for my story, or lacked the juicy article :)

    Source: Blu-ray Disc [blu-ray.com]
    Blu-ray, also known as Blu-ray Disc (BD) is the name of a next-generation optical disc format jointly developed by eleven leading consumer electronics companies (Hitachi, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TDK and Thomson). The format was developed to enable recording, rewriting and playback of high-definition television (HDTV), which isn't possible with todays VCRs. Blu-ray makes it possible to record over 2 hours of HDTV, or more than 13 hours of SDTV on a 27GB disc. There are also plans for higher capacity discs that are expected to hold up to 54GB of data.

    The beauty is, as opposed to the "not until 10yrs"-statements, you can buy a recorder [blu-ray.com] from sony (BDZ-S77) already in Japan.


    When will I be able to buy a Blu-ray Disc recorder? [blu-ray.com]
    You'll probably have to wait until 2005-2006 for Blu-ray recorders to become commonly available. The driving force behind the development of Blu-ray Disc recorders is the need to record HDTV programming and currently the only country where HDTV is well established is Japan. The only Blu-ray Disc recorder that's currently available to consumers is the Sony BDZ-S77 Blu-ray Disc Recorder, but as you can see in our Blu-ray Recorders section, most well-known consumer electronics companies have their own prototype Blu-ray Disc recorder in development, so we expect to see more Blu-ray recorders on the Japanese market during 2004.

    According to Sony of America's senior vice president Mike Fidler, products based on the Blu-ray Disc format are not likely to be available in the United States until 2005. However, LG Electronics has stated that they have plans to introduce a Blu-ray Disc recorder in the United States in the third quarter of 2004.
    While current optical disc technologies such as DVD, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW and DVD-RAM use a red laser to read and write data, the new format uses a blue laser instead, hence the name Blu-ray. The benefit of using a blue laser is that it has a shorter wavelength (405 nanometer) than a red laser (650 nanometer), which means that it's possible to focus the laser beam with even greater precision. This allows data to be packed more tightly on the disc and makes it possible to fit more data on the same size disc. Despite the different type of lasers used, Blu-ray Disc recorders can be made backwards compatible with current red-laser technologies and allow playback of CDs and DVDs.

    JVC [blu-ray.com], Maxell [blu-ray.com], Maxell TDK [blu-ray.com], mitsubishi [blu-ray.com], sony [blu-ray.com] and many others are working on this...
    HP and DELL were accepted into the group to help further develop the format for PC data storage in 2004. (which means, this is going to be widespread in a few years.)
  • by Ex-MislTech (557759) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:51AM (#8767532)
    Excerpt: http://www.aprilisinc.com/holographic_storage.htm

    #1:This makes possible capacities of more than 1,000 GB
    on a CD disk format.

    #2:Consequently, holography provides a substantially faster
    data transfer rate from a single head, surpassing 100 MB/sec.
    By comparison, DVD technology provides a data transfer rate
    of only 5 MB/sec.

    Thanks,
    Ex-MislTech

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