GE pushes ahead with 500GB holographic disc storage
"We have paid orders for product - real customers from real companies. We're building up a backlog of orders," Stuck added.
Stuck pointed a finger at InPhase's former management, saying that year after year the company devised plans to get product to the market, and year after year, failed. But with new management, Stuck is confident the company will ship in the next year.
Stuck also pointed out that InPhase's technology writes data at 20MB/sec compared with Blu-rays data transfer speed of 4.8MB/sec.
"If they [GE] really do have a 500GB disk, I come up with 100,000 seconds to fill a disc. There's 86,400 seconds in a day. You do the math," he said. "Our customers tell us if it takes more than four hours to backup, they're not interested."
Mark Peters, an analyst with market research firm ESG, said that even if GE and InPhase get their products out the door, both face an uphill battle against established archive technologies such as magnetic tape.
"There used to be an old joke that there's more written about optical disc than stored on it," he said. "There comes a point where it either sells or it doesn't."
Peters said optical disc originally had an advantage over tape media because the read/write head could go directly to the data, where tape drives need to spool through reels to find it. But seek times have been whittled down by technologies such as Linear Tape File System (LTFS), which allows users to run applications designed for disk drives on tape drives for faster data access.
Another obvious limitation is that industries have invested for decades in tape, so any new technology designed to replace it will have to be able to mimic it. For example, when hard disk drive backup systems came out five or so years ago, they were called virtual tape libraries (VTLs) because a software abstraction layer allowed corporate backup servers to "see" them as magnetic tape media.
GE said micro-holographic disc will differ from forerunners in that it will embed data directly onto virtual layers within plastic, stacking 20 blue-laser readable layers atop another to realize 500GB capacity.
GE Global Research, which has been working on the technology for eight years, said the micro-holographic storage material was first demonstrated at a trade show in April 2009. The discs are so similar to current optical storage technologies that future micro-holographic players will allow consumers to play back CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs on GE's optical drives.
"During the past two years, our research team has been focused on material improvements to increase the recording speed and making other key advances needed to ready GE's micro-holographic technology for market," Lorraine said in a statement. "With a speed to match Blu-ray's, discs made from GE's advanced micro-holographic materials are an attractive solution for both archival and consumer entertainment systems."
With higher recording speeds required in the professional archival industry, the latest breakthrough by GE researchers could advance the company's efforts to commercialize its micro-holographic technology, according to William Kernick, vice president of Technology Ventures for GE. He called the technology "an exciting new solution in the marketplace."
GE noted that there there's no reason its micro-holographic layers must take the form of a disc. Its Global Research team members remain agnostic about the shape future storage products using the material might assume.
"Ultimately, the material could become a superior storage alternative to magnetic tape," the company said in a statement.
Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com.
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