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Media Data Storage Hardware

Start-Up Claims Immortality For Data With 'Stone-Like' Disc 261

Posted by timothy
from the load-up-the-station-wagon-with-these dept.
CWmike writes "Start-up Millenniata and LG plan to soon release a new optical disc and read/write player that will store movies, photos or any other data forever. The data can be accessed using any current DVD or Blu-ray player. The M-Disc can be dipped in liquid nitrogen and then boiling water without harming it. It also has a Defense Department study (PDF) backing up the resiliency of its product compared with other leading optical disc competitors. The company would not disclose what material is used to produce the optical discs, referring to it only as a 'natural' substance that is 'stone-like.' Like DVDs and Blu-ray discs, the M-Disc platters are made up of multiple layers of material. But there is no reflective, or die, layer. Instead, during the recording process a laser 'etches' pits onto the substrate material."
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Start-Up Claims Immortality For Data With 'Stone-Like' Disc

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  • Like the fabled non-volatile memory, stone-like disks have appeared on Slashdot at least once before.
  • What? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 08, 2011 @07:13PM (#37028072)

    The M-Disc can be dipped in liquid nitrogen and then boiling water without harming it.

    Yeah ... /me rushes out and buys one tonight at Best Buy because, you know, the last fourteen computers, MP3 players and PDAs i've owned all died in the vats of liquid nitrogen around my house - for some stupid reason I keep dropping stuff in those.

    • In fairness, I think all of us have accidentally dropped a consumer device in water or let it sit on a dashboard on a hot day. While this technology may not initially be useful for regular devices, eventually we may come to benefit from it.
      • by SomePgmr (2021234)
        I'd just be interested in it as a way to store old data at work in a way that doesn't rot/break over a few years.
      • In fairness, I think all of us have accidentally dropped a consumer device in water or let it sit on a dashboard on a hot day. While this technology may not initially be useful for regular devices, eventually we may come to benefit from it.

        In fairness, liquid nitrogen and water share very few properties. Nor is the convection of boiling water and radiation of solar energy affecting a solid the same way.
        Extreme conditions make for good press releases and irritating slashdot summaries. Simulating 200+ years of real decay is neither provable or disprovable. A "forever" product only needs to last as long as it's remembered. I can remember reading about three "archival" optical/magnetic/whatever media products on /. in the past. I can't tell you w

    • Yeah, the right questions would be...
      1) Will a 3 ft drop to a concrete floor break it? How many such falls can it withstand?
      2) If I rub the readable side with sand paper, will it get damaged? How long will it hold? Can the data still be recovered?
      3) How variable is the temperature range it is supposed to stored in? What happens if there is power outage and I cannot maintain the range for 1-2 weeks?
      4) Ditto for moisture, and general exposure to air & water.
      • Re:What? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Sene (1794986) on Monday August 08, 2011 @08:02PM (#37028448)
        I didn't see them calling the disc idiot-proof :)
      • by chill (34294)

        Assume it is multiple layers of synthetic diamond or sapphire. Sapphire crystal is used to make some damn impervious stuff [youtube.com].

        How do you think something like that would hold up to your scenarios?

      • by mlts (1038732) *

        I know this is a revert to older technology, but for price of disks like this, maybe going to a caddy-based mechanism for the DVD writer might be a good idea, and have the disks shipped in caddies? This way, the media would not have to leave the caddy, greatly decreasing the chance of getting scratched. Of course, the media can be removed from the caddy to be read on a normal CD/DVD drive.

        For long term archiving, this would be a good idea, as the biggest enemy in most environments to optical media are scr

      • They requested modified testing to get the numbers

        Basically, modified ECMA-379 testing, starting with known good discs (where the write was initially verified to be good) with testing limited to 85C temperature and 85% relative humidity profile testing, with the addition of full-spectrum light in order to make the dye substrate more vulnerable to phase-change from humidity lensing of the light.

        The two key elements of the Millenniata test which differ from ECMA-379 are
        consideration of the initial write quality of the discs selected for testing, and the
        introduction of full spectrum light to the test environment.

        ...or to put it into slash-terms: any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to a rigged demo. I'm not say

    • by nbauman (624611)

      Be careful when you hold the baby.

    • Yeah ... /me rushes out and buys one tonight at Best Buy because, you know, the last fourteen computers, MP3 players and PDAs i've owned all died in the vats of liquid nitrogen around my house - for some stupid reason I keep dropping stuff in those.

      That was obviously a reference to climate change. Global warming does not mean that it will get uniformly hotter, but that the temperatures become more extreme at both ends of the range. Hence it will get as cold as liquid nitrogen in Winter and as hot as boiling water in Summer.

      So it will be nice to know that our data will survive, even if we won't stand a chance.

      • by ArcherB (796902)

        Yeah ... /me rushes out and buys one tonight at Best Buy because, you know, the last fourteen computers, MP3 players and PDAs i've owned all died in the vats of liquid nitrogen around my house - for some stupid reason I keep dropping stuff in those.

        That was obviously a reference to climate change. Global warming does not mean that it will get uniformly hotter, but that the temperatures become more extreme at both ends of the range. Hence it will get as cold as liquid nitrogen in Winter and as hot as boiling water in Summer.

        So it will be nice to know that our data will survive, even if we won't stand a chance.

        I didn't see any reference at all to climate change in his post. To me it was a sarcastic point that being able to survive being dipped in liquid nitrogen is a bit excessive, because no one keeps liquid nitrogen around the house. See, it's called sarcasm.

        Nor did I see anything in the summary that would point to climate change. I think they were simply showing that if it can survive going from liquid nitrogen to boiling water, it will survive 10 years in your non-climate controlled storage shed.

        Or were yo

        • See, it's called sarcasm.

          Well, speaking of which... I mean, I'm sure you're responding to something perfectly serious

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      you too?

      what gets me is every time I have liquid nitrogen and boiling water in close proximity I never think its a bad idea.

  • Bedrock: (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hartree (191324) on Monday August 08, 2011 @07:14PM (#37028078)

    I think this is how Fred Flintstone's instant camera worked.

  • by Normal Dan (1053064) on Monday August 08, 2011 @07:18PM (#37028116)
    I'd like to see this along with a disc reader that will withstand the test of time. What good is a disc if it can't be read with future technology? Imagine an archaeologist finding this disc 2000 years from now, with no way to read it. Now imagine if there was a device that withstood the test of time and could play back the information on the disc in some form. The people of the future would just need to wipe the screen down and press play.
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday August 08, 2011 @07:32PM (#37028240) Journal
      It wouldn't be cheap; but so long as the standard survived, or was infer-able, an optical disk reader in working condition would be merely a convenience:

      Using the microscopy capabilities of the present, much less the future(assuming we aren't fighting wars for canned goods and desperately holding off the murderous rat-men, in which case it probably doesn't matter), getting a complete image of the pits and lands on the disc surface would merely be a matter of considerable tedium. From there, with knowledge of the standard, it would be an image processing task to recover the data(and, of course, those would have to be stored in a known format, not some encrypted nonsense that depends on a keyserver that went offline during the transgene crusades of 2031)...

      The same is largely true of magnetic media. Having a device that costs $20, hangs off a contemporary bus, and is designed to handle the medium sure is handy; but a microscope and some patience is a functional substitute.
      • by Lanteran (1883836) on Monday August 08, 2011 @08:56PM (#37028720) Homepage Journal

        But if we're talking movie DVDs, you've got CSS to deal with. That would probably ensure that none of our pop-culture survives millennia. Thank god...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by PRMan (959735)
      Any DVD reader can read it. Compatibility with those should last beyond our lifetime.
    • by Ziekheid (1427027)

      You honestly think that future generations wouldn't be able to access information on how devices from the past worked and rebuild them after that?
      There must be one major disaster if we ever reach a stage where this happens.

    • I would hope in 2,000 years your average archaeologist would have the tools to scan the disk at a molecular level and have an AI extract any important information based on historical archives of data formats.

      • But... will there be DRM... and will it annoy them... and lead them to believe... "oh, its just a stupid Hollywood movie... not worth decoding..." ;-)
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by camperdave (969942)

        I would hope in 2,000 years your average archaeologist would have the tools to scan the disk at a molecular level and have an AI extract any important information based on historical archives of data formats.

        "Esteemed Instructor. I have found a stone disk from 2000 years ago, in the diggings."
        "Have you indeed? Is it intact?"
        "Yes, Esteemed Instructor. I have taken the liberty of scanning the disk at the molecular level, and I have had my AI extract the information based on the historical archives of known data formats."
        "And what have you found?"
        "This! [dafk.net]"

    • just think about encoding nightmares! reading the data problem is not too hard to solve even if we claw back from the stone age; the real problem is how to decode the data and then how to process it.

      I can imagine them getting stumped on the DOC files they are trying open; the jpegs have to be even more difficult.

    • by Trogre (513942)

      With the seemingly downward trend in optical drive quality over the past twelve years, I doubt that a drive made today could read such a disc in 3 years time, much less 2000.

    • by Dahamma (304068)

      Modern archaeologists have been able to read etched stone records from 5000 years ago [wikipedia.org]. And most of the deciphering was done in the 19th century - ie. without the help of computers.

      I think 2000 years from now they can handle whatever system we can dream up.

    • You save the instructions on how to build and operate a reader... onto a stone disc. That way archaeologists in the future will be able to know how to build new readers. =)

  • I knew it! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 08, 2011 @07:20PM (#37028130)

    Stonehenge is a data center! I wonder if they're hiring?

    • It all sounds great; that is until they take you downstairs and you have to watch the 2000 year long "Diversity, winning with combinations!" video from HR whilst strapped into the Pandorica...
  • by jspayne (98716) <jeff@[ ]nesplace.com ['pay' in gap]> on Monday August 08, 2011 @07:23PM (#37028158) Homepage
    ...but the write times are a bitch.

    *chinkchink. pause. chink. pause. chinkchink. *

  • ...not to drop it.

  • I wonder what their comment on backing your stuff up to a media that will last forever will be?
  • ... the CD/DVD/BD discs don't last. If only they'd used a dye layer instead.

  • and wait for it to be archived.

  • Liquid Nitrogen (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pcjunky (517872) <walterp@cyberstreet.com> on Monday August 08, 2011 @08:16PM (#37028534) Homepage

    You can put a normal CD-R disk in Liquid Nitrogen without any damage. I have tested it myself. Although it warps into a dome shape until it warms.

  • This doesn't sound a whole lot different than CDs or DVDs burned in factories. Those don't use a dye layer either, but pits etched into an (aluminum?) substrate. It sounds like this company has found a way to produce similar results at home -- but that doesn't mean the resulting discs will be any more durable or have longer life than your store-bought CDs/DVDs.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      This doesn't sound a whole lot different than CDs or DVDs burned in factories. Those don't use a dye layer either, but pits etched into an (aluminum?) substrate. It sounds like this company has found a way to produce similar results at home -- but that doesn't mean the resulting discs will be any more durable or have longer life than your store-bought CDs/DVDs.

      1. MAFIAA has little incentive to sell you discs that will last forever - I'd say, on the contrary. The fact they sell you pressed CD/DVD-es is rather related to the cost of producing them than it is with their concern on how long they'll last for you.
      2. However, as a Write-Once-a-single-copy (backup, archiving purposes), I think this one will make a killing. The current life-span of recordable CD/DVD (not the pressed ones) vary between 10-300 years (subject to the quality and storage/use patterns).

      • by PCM2 (4486)

        They've tested the new media for exposure to light, temperature, and humidity, and they claim it suffered no degradation (while all others did). That's significant, but if you scratch it, it's still destroyed. In that sense, it still seems more fragile than high-quality magnetic tape -- but I suppose if the goal is long-term storage, they could put an actual anti-scratch coating on the media and charge you more for it.

        I think your estimates of the life of burned CDs and DVDs are way overblown, BTW. Ten year

        • by c0lo (1497653)

          I think your estimates of the life of burned CDs and DVDs are way overblown, BTW.

          Not mine, so I can't comment. What I can do is to provide some sources for the estimates:

          300 years citation [wikipedia.org] - "MAM-A (Mitsui) claims a life of 300 years on their archival gold CD-R and 100 years for gold DVDs."
          10 year estimate [wikipedia.org] - "According to research conducted by J. Perdereau, CD-Rs are expected to have an average life expectancy of 10 years."

          • by PCM2 (4486)

            OK, well those MAM-A figures are a special case. When they talk about "archival gold CD-Rs," they really mean gold... they use a 24 karat gold substrate and patented dyes to achieve higher durability than other media on the market. But of course, it's never been proven, because no single piece of this media has been around for 300 years. Most of their claims seem to be based on the improved lightfastness of their patented dye, but there are various factors that affect media durability (temperature, humidity

            • by c0lo (1497653)

              But of course, it's never been proven, because no single piece of this media has been around for 300 years.

              :) Well, with the current crisis, what can we do better than to wait and see :)

  • by pcjunky (517872) <walterp@cyberstreet.com> on Monday August 08, 2011 @08:21PM (#37028560) Homepage

    My wife's Thesis was on this subject. Readers won't last long enough to make this useful.

    http://explorer.cyberstreet.com/CET4970H-Peterson-Thesis.pdf [cyberstreet.com]

    • by GrahamCox (741991)
      You don't need a reader, as long as the format is discoverable. They didn't send a reader up with the Voyager disc, did they?
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Microscopes are pretty easy to make.

    • by bloodhawk (813939)
      None of the original readers for Hieroglyphics are around either. As long as the message and medium are intact then the data can be recovered, a working reader simply makes the task easier.
  • The longest DVD archival life achievable today is provided with the new MDISC—a revolutionary optical disc technology developed by Dr. Barry Lunt and Dr. Matt Linford of Brigham Young University and manufactured by Utah-based Millenniata, Inc. –

    The material is probably mentioned in one of these Patents [uspto.gov]

    • The patent says silicon and/or aluminum. Doesn't sound very stone like to me. His patent also sounds much like an LP. I think this is yet another version of making a unique invention by adding "with a computer" to the description of something that already exists.
      • by solanum (80810)

        The patent says silicon and/or aluminum. Doesn't sound very stone like to me.

        What? Stone is mostly silicon dioxide, how does something made out of silicon not sound stone like?

  • It's Play-Doh.

  • Weren't the original large-format Laser Video Discs created via this principle? I thought they etched dots into an aluminium substrate using a higher power setting.
  • religious or ceremonial, the catch all of confused scientists.
    "What were all the microscopic pits for?"
    "To catch their souls of course!!!"
  • by pegasustonans (589396) on Monday August 08, 2011 @10:19PM (#37029136)

    Also can be tied to a stick and used to smack down post-apocalyptic miscreants after its original purpose is long forgotten.

  • This is how they touted CDs in the earl 1990s. Tapes from the early 1980s are still playable (despite physical abuse), and can be repaired easily if they are not. It's a rare CD which lasts 10 years under non-archive conditions.

    By the time this technology is proved useless, they will have made their money and retired!

    (or perhaps this is a good thing and I'm being too cynical -- but they'd better have a self-powered player unit that will live as long as the media -- or human-readable plans to build one)

    • by Danga (307709)

      I have worked with these discs and one of their drives and was very skeptical at first but after learning more about it I realized it is really pretty ground breaking and useful for archiving data. I of course joked around with the same joke you said regarding the actual life of the discs but compared to current writable optical media M-Discs are definitely a huge step up.

      You see a regular writable discs main long term storage problem is the dye used to store the data degrades MUCH quicker than any other p

  • These "diamond-hard stone" discs can withstand "temperatures extending up to 176 degrees Fahrenheit as well as UV rays that would destroy conventional DVD discs."

    http://www.engadget.com/2009/11/14/cranberry-diamondisc-the-35-dvd-thatll-last-longer-than-your/ [engadget.com]

    • by Danga (307709)

      The discs you mentioned are from the same source, Cranberry was just a company (that does not seem to exist any longer) that handled the marketing of the MDiscs. The technology has been around a while, I used one of the drives and played around with the media a few years ago at my former employers office and at that time I think the discs went by the names Cranberry DiamondDisc as well as the manufacturers name M-ARC disc.

  • "no reflective or die layer"

    Does this mean that I can't record on both sides any more?

  • Am I the only person who saw 'Stone-Like' in the title and immediately thought of Radiant Silvergun [wikipedia.org]? Let's hope it doesn't destroy humanity...

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Monday August 08, 2011 @11:13PM (#37029400)

    put it to the mythbusters test

  • This must be how the message of the Weaseljumper was able to survive being embedded in coal for a million years or so: http://www.scribd.com/doc/13855395/Weaseljumper-Read-Me-First [scribd.com]
  • We need to store them in huge vaults, protected by robots (golems) [wowpedia.org]. Perhaps some day some little guy [wowwiki.com] will investigate with a band of adventurers (murderous looters, really) and they'll trip over every security measure put in place.
  • Because boiling water and liquid nitrogen is what I regularly expose my discs to. Not.

    How 'bout testing it against my kids, that drop them on the wood floor, and then swirl them around doing their own etching.

  • It's made of diamondium! - Professor Farnsworth

  • The problem with archival-quality DVD blanks is that they cost too much. These cost about $8 each from Amazon.

    It's not clear what the writing rate is. Etching pits is usually slower than turning a dye a different color. Despite this, it's a useful technology to have around.

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