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Data Storage Hardware

GE Introduces 500GB Holographic Disks 370

bheer writes "According to the NYTimes, at a conference next month, GE will debut their new holographic storage breakthrough — 500GB disks that will cost 10 cents a GB to produce at launch. GE will first focus on selling the technology to commercial markets like movie studios and hospitals, but selling to the broader corporate and consumer market is the larger goal."
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GE Introduces 500GB Holographic Disks

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  • "This could be the next generation of low-cost storage," said Richard Doherty, an analyst at Envisioneering, a technology research firm.

    The G.E. development, however, could be that pioneering step, according to analysts and experts.

    So a player that could read microholographic storage discs could also read CD, DVD and Blu-ray discs. But holographic discs, with the technology G.E. has attained, could hold 500 gigabytes of data.

    You guys remember that cool new technology that was going to revolutionize the way we store data? The one that was just 11 years away? Well we could be one year closer to that realization today perhaps maybe.

    People that know more than you and might even be experts possibly speculated that this might be a reality within some amount of time. It brings me great joy to announce to you that now we're maybe in the ballpark. You yourself have the chance to be alive when this thing hits. And it could be big.

    Perhaps tomorrow it will be in my computer or the fabrication process might not ever be cheaply implemented and then we could wait longer than five years possibly. "It's so tantalizingly exciting but still just over that next hill we think," is what I said last year and now look. I may have been correct or at least within one standard deviation of time for this product.

    This is exciting to the point that I very well may scream. I think now is the time to possibly ask yourself: are you ready for what might turn into something big? Because it could be around the corner.

  • Not good enough. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @01:50PM (#27733157) Journal

    $0.10/gb * 500 GB = $50. I can buy a 1 TB hard drive for around $80. Why would I use this stuff?

  • Holoduke (Score:5, Funny)

    by MrEricSir ( 398214 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @01:50PM (#27733161) Homepage

    Will this hologram technology be capable of storing a Holoduke?

  • by jumpingfred ( 244629 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @01:53PM (#27733203)

    1 terra byte drives cost around $100. That is 10 cents a gig at retail. So they cost less than 10 cents a gig to manufacture.

  • Expensive (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tom17 ( 659054 )

    They word the pricing to make it sound attractive, only 10c/GB, but that makes this 500GB disk a hideously expensive $50! That's too much.

    By the time this tech comes out, that will be orders of magnitude more than HD prices. Maybe even flash storage will be cheaper by then.

    • Replying to help with the troll mod on Tom17. Redundant maybe because of the reply above him, but not troll.
    • There are other considerations:

      First, quality. Is the holographic storage faster? Is it less likely to break? Can it handle a larger number of reads/writes?
      Second, $50 is for the 1st generation. The price comes down the quickest in the early generations, so it may achieve parity or even pass the pricepoint for current HD prices within a few years.

      • Re:Expensive (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @02:53PM (#27734215) Homepage Journal

        Yes, and like all optical storage in the past, by the time it reaches price parity with hard drives, it will take so many of them to back up a single hard drive that it will be near useless. Remember when DVD-R seemed like it had promise? Well by the time I could afford to do a backup of my collection of HDs, I had to order two spools of a hundred to do it. BD-R is still only down to about $0.18/gig (and double that if you want 50 GB discs), so it still has to drop in half to reach parity, but the sweet spot for hard drives is 1TB, and it would take 40 of the 25 GB discs to back up one drive. That makes it very nearly useless for backups because you can't automate dozens of disc changes. So it still hasn't reached price parity and it is already way, way beyond impractical as a backup medium.

        For optical media to really matter to me, burners would need to be available at consumer prices this year so that they would be starting to make their way into mainstream computers by two years from now. That way it will only take 4-8 discs to back up an average hard drive by the time the burners are broadly available. Unfortunately, this is still in the laboratory stage, which means that it probably won't be in consumers' hands for at least five years. Assuming HD density continues to increase at somewhere approaching current levels, this will likely take over a hundred discs to back up a typical hard drive by the time consumers get it, making it even farther behind than Blu-Ray is today, and nearly as bad as DVDs are today. And ten cents a gig would be okay right now. By five years from now, that will be about 50 times more expensive per gig than hard drives, so roughly on par with Blu-Ray today cost-wise. Thus, by the time this comes out, the cost to back up a typical hard drive with this technology will be about 2.5x more expensive than it is today using Blu-Ray.

        Unless something changes fairly dramatically, I'd expect flash to make optical media completely obsolete within about five years. Optical media is already impractical for backups, for carrying around data with you, etc. and Internet downloads are rapidly becoming a viable replacement for physical media for movies and music. It's a shame; optical seemed like it had a lot of potential two decades ago, but the industry got way behind and can't seem to catch up. If anything, they seem to be rapidly falling farther behind.

    • by afidel ( 530433 )
      When I got my first CDRW drive disks were $25 a piece and today they run about $.10 so just because a technology launches at an expensive price point doesn't mean it can't be a success. If they can show that the media is durable then it's going to do well with their initial target customers because the competition just isn't reliable enough for studios.
    • by Rary ( 566291 )

      They word the pricing to make it sound attractive, only 10c/GB, but that makes this 500GB disk a hideously expensive $50! That's too much.

      And they're not even mentioning the cost of the drive, since this is only a disc.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Tragedy4u ( 690579 )
      If you cut a piece of holographic film in half, each half contains the entire picture...just smaller and with a bit less detail.

      Thats part of the holographic principle, the original theory anyway was meant to make it MORE resilliant damage to the media was supposed to reduce it's capacity. Reality will likely be different from the original dream of course.

  • Data Integrity? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Plekto ( 1018050 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @01:54PM (#27733217)

    The real question is how robust the things are to scratches and other negative environmental effects. If it has to be enclosed in a case like the old Zip disks were, then it's effectively a fancy hard drive in a smaller and lighter format.(though slower by a huge margin I'd bet).

    Unless it's as damage resistant as a normal CD or DVD, it's not going to make a blip in the marketplace.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      It'd have to be *more* damage resistant, at that price. With flash drives up to 64GBs at a reasonable price, and growing all the time, and no word on if these are reusable, requiring a specific drive, etc etc. It'd be a hell of an uphill battle. Probably worse than Blu-Ray's got.

    • by wjh31 ( 1372867 )
      if it's data integrity IS comparable to that od CDs and DVDs, then its not really suitable for archiving. As an asside, even if it does cost 10c/GB, how much is it going to cost for the writer?
    • That's the beauty of holograms. Every point on the hologram contains information about the whole picture.
  • Are we talking about TB disks are that fit ipods and cell phones?

    Are these RW or preloaded?
  • I wasn't sure from the TFA, but previous holo disks were WORM media, where they were intended for archiving.

    With media this inexpensive, it would be a boon for both hospitals, but companies in general who have to archive everything, due to Sarbanes Oxley, HIPAA, CALEA, and other regulations.

    What GE will need to work on, once this comes out in a standard cartridge format, is some type of autochanger that can reliably move media in and out. In days of yore where companies had WORM optical media, one loaded a

  • by wjh31 ( 1372867 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @02:05PM (#27733427) Homepage
    how the hell has OCZ's new 1TB 500MB/s PCI-E flash ( drives not gotten a mention anywhere that ive seen.

    Yes ill probably get modded off topic, but it seems to me it's managed to fall below the radar where it shouldnt have
  • High Density Hot Air (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JackSpratts ( 660957 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @02:09PM (#27733489) Homepage

    High density discs and have been a PR staple for years. I'm still waiting for one announced in '99. Yes, disc capacity will increase gradually and at some point today's fat Blu-Rays will be hopelessly limited curios, but the trick isn't so much about jamming bits into ever smaller sectors as it is creating compatibility with installed player bases, burner ecosystems and jittery rights holders. GE doesn't come to mind as a company with experience getting that done, nevermind getting such consumer products in the stores or even out of the lab. Good luck guys but I don't see it happening.

    - js.

  • If this technology suffers from the same longevity and data integrity issues that other rewritable optical media always has, then I don't want it to begin replacing magnetic media. The Next Big Thing in storage should be a step closer to the data longevity we enjoyed with cuniform tablets, not a step farther away. Speed and capacity aren't the only criteria for judging storage media. Media is, after all, supposed to store data... how well it does that is a big deal.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      There is no real reason that archival media and rewritable media should be used in the same ways.

      If you want guaranteed longevity, used existing bulk archival. That works. If, on the other hand, this is not rewritable, then the point is moot, isn't it?
  • This has, I would suggest, a very, very slim market. Home users won't bother, because it costs more (significantly more at 10c/GB to produce) than an external HD. Hollywood won't bother, because BR still has lots of legs and I don't foresee QHD becoming mainstream any time soon. By then, the video algorithms may have even caught up with the resolution jump and we still won't need more than 50GB for a film. IT won't bother, because if it doesn't go reel to reel it's not a "real" backup solution.

    About the o

  • by stardude82 ( 1030976 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @02:17PM (#27733643)

    If you look at all the projected lifetimes of Fe-LiNiO3 devices, which I guess is they system they are talking about in their glorified press releases, they are supposed to be around 100 years at operating temperatures! Compare that to the 30 some years of DVD-R media!

    Though it still isn't as good as some chalcogenide based phase change materials which are predicted to last for 100's of years, it is important step in keeping our data around.

  • Could also be... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Capt James McCarthy ( 860294 ) on Monday April 27, 2009 @02:25PM (#27733779) Journal

    We need a stock bump.

  • CDs can store more than an hour of uncompressed audio, yet here we are 20 years after music CDs hit the market and they still contain the same 35-40 minutes of music as vinyl records.

    The movie industry's way of coping with DVDs that can store far more than one movie has been to put one movie on a DVD, and load up the extra space with previews, outtakes, commentary, and all kinds of other crap that's not a movie.

    How will the movie industry handle a DVD that can store 100 movies? Maybe by grouping them, for example the Star Trek series or films by the same director or main actor. But based on history I'm guessing won't put more than 5 or 6 movies on a disc plus hours and hours of "bonus" material.

  • 500GB disks that will cost 10 cents a GB to produce at launch. GE will first focus on selling the technology to commercial markets like movie studios

    While they're launching the disks, there is unfortunately no drive to read them yet. The movie studios have no problem with that, though; they actually see this as a strong positive.

  • To all the physicists out there: what are the theoretical limits to holographic storage? Could you use, say, a 1m x 1m cube to store a few yottabytes?

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?