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Start-up to release 'stone-like' optical disc that lasts forever

New optical disc aims for consumer market first, then corporate archives

August 8, 2011 06:05 AM ET

Computerworld - Start-up Millenniata and Hitachi-LG Data Storage 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.

Millenniata calls the product the M-Disc, and the company claims you can dip it in liquid nitrogen and then boiling water without harming it. It also has a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) study backing up the resiliency of its product compared to other leading optical disc competitors.

Millenniata CEO Scott Shumway 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 unlike the former, there is no reflective or die layer. Instead, during the recording process a laser "etches" pits onto the substrate material.

"Once the mark is made, it's permanent," Shumway said. "It can be read on any machine that can read a DVD. And it's backward compatible, so it doesn't require a special machine to read it - just a special machine to write it."

While Millenniata has partnered with Hitachi-LG Data Storage for the initial launch of an M-Disc read-write player in early October, Shumway said any DVD player maker will be able to produce M-Disc machines by simply upgrading their product's firmware.

Millenniata said it has also proven it can produce Blu-ray format discs with its technology - a product it plans to release in future iterations. For now, the platters store the same amount of data as a DVD: 4.7GB. However, the discs write at only 4x or 5.28MB/sec, half the speed of today's DVD players.

"We feel if we can move to the 8X, that'd be great, but we can live with the four for now," Shumway said, adding that his engineers are working on upping the speed of recording.

Millenniata is also targeting the long-term data archive market, saying archivists will no longer have to worry about controlling the temperature or humidity of a storage room. "Data rot happens with any type of disc you have. Right now, the most permanent technology out there for storing information is a paper and pencil -- until now," Shumway said.

The M-Disc
Millenniata's M-Disc is made of a stone-like substance that the company claims does not degrade over time.

In 2009, the Defense Department's Naval Air Warfare Weapon's Division facility at China Lake, Calif. was interested in digitizing and permanently storing information. So it tested Millenniata's M-Disc against five other optical disc vendors: Delkin Devices, Mitsubishi, JVC, Verbatim and MAM-A.

"None of the Millenniata media suffered any data degradation at all. Every other brand tested showed large increases in data errors after the stress period. Many of the discs were so damaged that they could not be recognized as DVDs by the disc analyzer," the department's report states.



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