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Data Storage Hardware

GE To Sample 500GB DVD-Size Discs Soon 179

siliconbits writes "GE Global Research announced earlier today that it has managed to cram up to 500GB worth of data on a standard DVD-size disc, an increase in storage density of roughly 100x. What's more, the tech arm of conglomerate General Electric Company says that the storage solution will record data at the same speed as Blu-ray discs while increasing storage capacity by 25 times. The Blu-ray Disk Association says that the commonly available 12x speed Blu-ray writers have a maximum writing speed of up to 400Mbps (or 50MBps) which means that in theory, it would take just over three hours to fill that new holographic hard disk. GE has confirmed that its R&D and licensing team will be sampling the media to qualified partners that may be interested in licensing the technology."
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GE To Sample 500GB DVD-Size Discs Soon

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  • ...that optical media was dead.

    • by God'sDuck ( 837829 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:54PM (#36838606)

      ...that optical media was dead.

      If it costs more per gigabyte than pocket sized hard drives, it's dead to me.

      it does.

      • Many people use the same reasoning, and for many cases, it's true. But what if you *just* need to backup? HD video comes to mind. How much storage space do you have (I mean physical storage)? how much more vulnerable is a complete hard drive than a CD? What's more practical for off-site backup of large amounts of data (many terabytes)? I much prefer discs to tapes, which are the only option unless you have an ungodly internet connection and can get online storage *really* cheap.
        • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

          Tape is more practical for offsite for large amount of data. LTO 5 is 1.5TB raw, and if they made them bigger we would be buying them.

          500Gb is nothing.

          • What if a company put out a hard drive that happened to have optical platters instead of magnetic ones? What would the pro's/con's be to that product?
            • If they figure out a way to make an optical disc that is as fast, reliable, and infinitely rewritable as a hard disc...

              • Well, there is magneto-optical [] that was reliable and infinitely re-writeable. It was just slower to write than a comparable SCSI HDD and was more expensive than them. They weren't very popular, so development of capacity didn't keep pace with traditional hard drive platters, but it probably could have been done.
            • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

              It would to slow to use. Check out the burn times on even blu rays.

              • Not only that, it would over heat and it would cost a fortune. One of the reasons HDDs are cheap is that the read heads cost almost nothing to make. A laser capable of reading data is not so cheap.

                There's been many attempts to make enclosed optical media, none of it was very successful due to speed, price and heat concerns - lasers do run hot.

          • I don't have first-hand information about this, but I know a guy who's job it is to help companies setup redundant backup systems. He keeps saying that there are so many formats, so much hardware nuance, and so many proprietary methods of getting data on and off the tapes, that he only goes for them in the most extreme cases. Many times he's called in to retrieve data that was backed up 5 years ago, and already it's a challenge to find the right hardware/software combination to do so.

            But, like I said, thi
            • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

              So use tar. Simple solution for a simple problem.
              There are proprietary ways to do it, don't use them.

              • So use tar.

                tar(1) just combines multiple files into one stream. How will you read this stream off the backup tape years later?

                • um... tar with the "x" option. Just like it's been done for the last 30 years.

                  I'd be more worried about the "tape" part than the "tar" part, since there's no guarantee the drive that could read your tape would exist in 30 years, let alone the tape itself still being readable.

              • by jimicus ( 737525 )

                So use tar. Simple solution for a simple problem.
                There are proprietary ways to do it, don't use them.

                Two problems there:

                - First, you haven't solved the complete problem. Specifically, you haven't dealt with the wide range of tape formats with dubious or no inter-compatability. I haven't tested interop issues between different LTO drives - there shouldn't be any but it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if there were.

                - tar(1) is a great solution to the "I need to back up one server" problem. It's a dire solution to the "I need to back up 50 servers and they're all going to the same tape robot" problem -

                • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

                  1. you buy a bunch of drives at once.

                  2. As you said Amanda uses tar. You are still using tar. Bacula does indeed rock if you own a library.

          • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @05:33PM (#36839202) Journal

            It's also insanely expensive. I can pick up a BluRay writer for about a hundred quid, and blank disks are about £1-2 for WORM disks and £3-5 for rewriteable ones. I couldn't find any LTO-5 drives, but I found an LTO-4 one... for over £2000. I did find LTO-5 tapes, but they cost about £85 each. So, LTO-5 works out about half the cost of BD-RE if you just factor in the cost of the media, but you need to back up a lot before it becomes cheaper overall. Cost of backing up 20TB with BD-RE is about £900. Cost for LTO: about £2500.

            Sure, if you're backing up a few TB every day, LTO is good value, but for home users it definitely isn't. BD-RE is big enough for incremental backups, and a lot cheaper - not to mention the fact that BD-RE disks have been dropping in price for a long time. You need to back up about 50TB before LTO's cost per GB is similar to BD-RE, and that's a lot more than a lot of small businesses produce.

            • The main problem here is the mechanics, I mean the elaborate laser machinery behind the reader, crazy expensive, hard to replicate, mechanical.. Everything that is wrong with those discs from day 1.
            • by dbIII ( 701233 )

              Sure, if you're backing up a few TB every day, LTO is good value

              I swear by tape, use it every day, know first hand that optical media has a pile of reliability and aging issues but would never bother using tape at home or in some organisations with different requirements. Redundant copies of cheap media gets the job done if the volume is not huge and you are prepared to do a format shift every few years, or if the data doesn't need to last many years.
              The real reason I use tape is because the data in my wor

              • The real reason I use tape is because the data in my workplace will still have a value in thirty years time

                And you think tape guarantees that? I did some work for a company a few years ago that makes a lot of money out of people like you. Turns out that those tape drives that 'everyone's using and will always be available' stop being made, and wear out...

                • by dbIII ( 701233 )
                  The line above the one you quoted says "prepared to do a format shift every few years".
                  Better do something about that short attention span before pointing at "people like you" :) I suppose you could assume that I was only writing about non-tape media when I wrote that but it's a bit of an odd conclusion to jump to.
                  I do have a pile of nine track reels in storage since the 1980s but they are theoretically a third copy made only for transport and belong to the companies that shipped them so I probably can't l
                  • by Hydian ( 904114 )

                    "I suppose you could assume that I was only writing about non-tape media when I wrote that but it's a bit of an odd conclusion to jump to."

                    "Redundant copies of cheap media gets the job done if the volume is not huge and you are prepared to do a format shift every few years, or if the data doesn't need to last many years."

                    Seems like the right conclusion to me. You go on to talk about tape which is not cheap media, is made for high volumes, and per your needs is needed to last for many years.

                    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
                      Still the wrong conclusion, but at least you didn't combine your confusion with a mild personal attack like the poster above (do they teach that shit in school now or something?). Tape just gives you a bit longer between format shifts.
          • Just don't drop it
        • withering scratching etc... Back when we thought CD's were invincible buggers that as long as you didn't scratch them they would last 100 years sure, then 5 years later we realized, oh wow ok these things can fall apart after 5 years. Hard drive vulnerability, sure to an extent, at least they are more vulnerable to shaking etc, though it appears they are also more recoverable after destruction. platters break etc... you can generally get that fixed, now the cost may be very high to repair it if something go
    • It basically is. This is comparable in size to an HDD, meaning it doesn't really outpace a RAID for storage potential, and most people do over-the-net transfers for all but the biggest chunks of data. This only makes sense as a replacement for backup tapes.

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        No it's not. You rarely ship media around in on HDs, and burning things to glass has legal ramifications.

      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        This is way too small for backup tapes. LTO 5 is 1.5TB raw. If they made them bigger people would buy them.

        • LTO5 is unaffordable for most people, and even most small businesses. Another poster here commented that LTO5 doesn't make economic sense until you're backing up 40TB or more at a time. The drives alone cost thousands of dollars.

          What this could be, IF the media price is low, is a good backup solution for home users and small businesses, instead of having to simply buy spare hard drives as backup media. Based on what BD-R drives cost, we should expect the drives to be no more than $100-200 early on, and i

          • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

            Too slow. For a home user drive to drive is a better solution.
            That poster is not counting the value of good backups to a business.

            • If the media is dirt cheap, the slowness might be fine. Just pop it in and leave it overnight. Having 2 or 3 spare HDs for backups is a little steep for a home user on a budget, but if this stuff is super cheap, then it might be fine for people on a budget who want to keep multiple backup sets.

              I'm skeptical, however; BD-R has been out for a while and it's super expensive, and it seems like the companies who make these super-capacity optical technologies never really understand that the media needs to be s

    • These just won't be Mac compatible that's all.

    • If anything, this is more evidence of the imminent death of optical media(at least as we know them).

      When everyone had CD drives it was generally easy to use a disc from one location in another.

      Then some people got DVD discs, and for a while there were a lot of people who didn't have a DVD drive. If you brought a DVD from one place to another there was no guarantee you'd be able to use it.

      Then we got to a point when most people had DVD drives, and it was generally easy to take a DVD from one place to another

      • by grumbel ( 592662 )

        Incompatible formats, lack of portability, lack of rewritability, fragility, and overall inconvenience in terms of storage are what are putting an end to optical media.

        The core problem really just comes down to price. Lack of rewritability is a non-issue when discs are cheap. Fragility also not much of an issue if discs are cheap and lack of compatibility would go away if the things would be cheap enough to become standard part on any PC. But as it is right now you have BluRays that are more expensive then DVD+R and more expensive then USB HDD, while providing essentially no real advantage, so no wonder that they haven't taken off.

        The only advantage that optical media sti

      • If the media cost was about 1/5 that of portable magnetic hard drives, then optical would still make sense. Then there's the issue that optical storage density has lagged horribly behind hard drive sizes.

        BD-R is still something like $0.25/GB. Horribly expensive compared to little 2.5" external drives which are about $0.12 to $0.14 per GB. You don't have to divide your data up into little 25GB chunks or deal with switching disks 20x to store 500GB. Most machines have USB ports, not many machines have B
    • That's weird, I was hoping the opposite, that someone would finally come out with a cheap, disposable media, like CD-R and DVD-R, that could replace actual hard drives as a backup or mass storage media. This new technology looks like it might fit the bill.

      The question is how cheap the media will be. For instance, we already have BD-R with 25GB/disc, but they're quite expensive, and if you're trying to back up a 1TB hard drive, it's cheaper to just go buy a second 1TB hard drive and use that for your backu

    • Won't ever be. In a few decades, the dominant storage methods are more likely going to be some form of (holographic) optical memory and flash.

      (Though I don't think the disc form will survive, because the surface is too exposed. Higher density will make it even less durable. It's more likely going to be embedded in sticks or cards, which are also less fragile and more compact.)

  • by VirginMary ( 123020 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:56PM (#36838620)

    Standard blu-ray discs, which are the same size already store 50GB and there are already blu-ray solutions that are supposed to store multiple times that. So, at most 10x, certainly nowhere near 100x!

  • But... (Score:2, Funny)

    by msauve ( 701917 )
    how many Library of Congresses is that?
    • Libraries of Congress, please. 500GB is roughly 1/40th of a LoC.
      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        "Libraries of Congress"

        There's only one.
        • What's the difference, sum of storage of many hypothetical Libraries each with the capacity of our Library of Congress, or summing the storage of libraries of a bunch of hypothetical Congresses, each having a Library?
          • by msauve ( 701917 )
            "Library of Congress" in this context is a unit of information, not an actual library. It's the unit which is made plural, not the library and not the Congress.
            • it's so fun yanking peoples' chains around here. or yanking people chains. or yanking people's chain.
  • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:59PM (#36838652)

    500GB divided by 50 GB == 100 times??? This must be that new math I heard about. Maybe it's time to do a refresher course at my local college.

    (1) I thought Pioneer has already developed a twenty-layer bluray disc that stored 500 GB. So not that big of a deal for GE to do the same.

    (2) Optical media will not be dead if ISPs keep putting 150 GB (i.e. three-to-six hd movies) limitations on their internet lines.

    (3) Optical discs allow me to KEEP the movie for life. Downloads do not, thanks to DarmnRM.

    • Re:Not impressed (Score:4, Interesting)

      by KnownIssues ( 1612961 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @05:12PM (#36838864)
      Since the reference is to standard DVD-sized discs, it's reasonable that the 100x is to standard DVD capacity, which is right around 5GB.
    • by basotl ( 808388 )
      Considering they used DVD as opposed to Blueray as the reference point.... you can see what they did there.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      (2) Optical media will not be dead if ISPs keep putting 150 GB (i.e. three-to-six hd movies) limitations on their internet lines.

      So it'll be a US thing like the imperial system, I guess. /speaking from a 60/60 Mbps fiber connection @ $100/mo, no caps. So I am slightly ahead of the curve but almost all large, new buildings now have fiber. They'll deliver me 800/800 Mbps here if I wanted to pay $1100/month, the last mile is no longer the limit.

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        So it'll be a US thing like the imperial system, I guess.

        I get it already. The United States is lagging behind in telecommunications and can't be fixed from within. Have you any tips on qualifying for legal immigrant status in a more "civilized" country?

    • by EdIII ( 1114411 )

      I don't own anything BlueRay for precisely the DRM that they are putting on all the devices. Not interested, Fuck Off.

      Now if this 500GB disc from GE does not contain any measures like this... and they have readers that they can install into media players, I will be very interested in doing so. That's probably anywhere from 130-150 DVD's on a single disc. Make 3 or 4 backups and keep one in a safety deposit box and you will have all your media (music, pictures, and movies) backed up pretty well.

      I would l

  • I've been hearing about holographic disks since 2004. [] I'll believe it when I see it.
  • I am not buying a new disk player for 10 years at least.

  • I guess I'm going to have to buy the White album again

  • by AngryDeuce ( 2205124 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @05:53PM (#36839522)
    Can't wait to put my computer out of commission for 8 hours while I burn one of these monstrosities. I think I'll just go ahead and stick with hard drives...
  • by willy_me ( 212994 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @06:07PM (#36839740)
    I would like to see how much they could cram into a disc with a 1" radius. The way I see it, the only way this technology will really take off is if they make it cheap and convenient. There is little need for 500GB of portable general purpose optical storage - portable HDs work fine. But I could see a use for ~20GB of cheap, portable, and disposable storage; the sort of thing you hand off to someone knowing full well you will never get it back. Around 20GB would be enough for HD video content, anything more would be wasted - better to reduce the physical size.
    • The way I see it, the only way this technology will really take off is if they make it cheap and convenient. There is little need for 500GB of portable general purpose optical storage - portable HDs work fine.

      Sure there is, for backing up your TB+ hard drives. It seems ridiculous that to back up a 2TB HD, I basically need to buy a second 2TB hard drive, or multiples if I want to keep multiple backups.

      Hard drives are cheap if you're just buying one, but as a backup media, they leave a lot to be desired.

      We c

      • Hard drives are cheap if you're just buying one, but as a backup media, they leave a lot to be desired.

        Not really. They're cheap per GB. They can be read and written fairly quickly (~100 MB/s). The apparatus for reading back your backups is self contained - usb will be around for a long damn time. They're sealed and don't degrade much over time (unlike high density optical media). And you can back up 2 TB of data without changing media 40 times.

      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        Here here!

        I am pretty careful about keeping my original media, and retaining the tag files from my installation and such on my home machines. So I really only need to backup my home directory. Within that I am pretty organized as well. There is lots of stuff I keep because I can that I don't need and would not cry over if something happened to it. The stuff I do want to keep either because it would take lots time re-rip and prepare form the original media or because its my own content (software I wrote

    • They already tried that. Maybe it work better if you could put movies on a tiny disc or more music on a tiny disc.
    • Let's see. Standard DVD size has a diameter of 120mm (radius = 60 mm). You want 1 in (25.4 mm). There's a center hole that's 15 mm in the DVD standard, so let's say it's shrunk to 8 mm. Then the area of the DVD sized disc is pi * (60^2 - 15^2), and of the small disc, pi * (25.4^2 - 8^2). The DVD sized disc has about 5.8 times the area of your smaller disc, so if they can get 500 GB on the big one, 80 GB on the small? Sounds good.
  • Small write-once read-only media? Make the 3.5" small disks a fully support format - and I might get slightly interested. Because the 5.25" disks are f****ing huge by all modern standards. Even 3.5" might be too largish. UMD-like media (2.5" or smaller; with a case) if it is still above 10GB, might be interesting too.

    If you are again with the same old 5.25" shit - do not even bother. Blu-ray - disks and drives - just got sufficiently cheap to be even considered. Your tech, with the current download/clou

    • I know the capacity is small, but I think the best format so far are the Sony Mini Discs. Too bad discontinued. The cases didn't take more space than the disc and for some of them you slid and snapped it in. No Scratching the media to worry about.

    • I agree. It's great that they've found ways to improve data density, but that can just as easily be used for reducing the size of the disks as for putting more data on them. Especially with today's miniaturization of everything, some sort of microdisk that could hold at least dvd-quality video would be much better. Then you could have a reader built into a laptop, tablet, or even cellphone.

  • With the state of media companies today, I dread new physical media now. Just means that they will use this as an excuse to sell you the same garbage you already bought them, and to use this as an excuse to flex their IP muscle. Can't wait for Star Wars the definitive GE super extended edition!

    Anyway its all about cost, how much are these suckers going to cost, and how much is the burner. Wait and see. Might at least be a legitimate backup option for consumer PC's eventually if not expensive. Still, even wi

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