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InPhase Technologies Promises Holographic Drive in May

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the want-to-believe dept.

Data Storage 194

Anonymous Coward writes "After 8 years of effort, InPhase Technologies is shipping the world's first holographic disk drive next month. They showed it at this week's NAB. With a 300GB 5.25" disk cartridge and a 50-year media life, the Tapestry 300r is aimed at the video and film archive market. They've been promising this thing for so long I'd given up hope that they'd ever ship it!"

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Obvious Hoax. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23132022)

Obvious Hoax.

Finally! (5, Funny)

bigtallmofo (695287) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132030)

I've dreamed often of the day I could buy a completely non-standard technology that rids me of large quantities of the pesky money I have lying around while at the same time solves the removable storage problems of 3 years ago. Too bad this unit only costs $18,000 and stores just under 1/3 of my hard disk space!

Re:Finally! (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132046)

Exactly. You can get a 500 GB hard disk for $100. Why not just use those for backup. At the cost of this holographic storage, you could buy 2 or 3 500 GB hard drives, and keep multiple copies just in case one died. Since you'd only be using them for backup, and they would actually get very little wear and tear, I would guess that it would be easy to have a hard drive last for 50 years.

Re:Finally! (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132226)

Heck, wait 3 years and you'll be able to buy 500 gig usb keys for $100. You can buy an 8 gig kensington USB drive for $30 right now ... they were $120 a year ago. If capacity continues to quadruple every year for the same price point, you're looking at 32 gig for $30 next year, or +/-$100 for 100 gig, 400 gig in 2 years, and a terabyte in 3-1/2. Of course, by then, you'll be able to buy 2TB hard drives for $50 ...

Re:Finally! (4, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132262)

Why not just use those for backup.
Because it violates a fundamental IT principle: always keep your backup media separate from your reader. With a 500GB HDD, your reader and your media are the same thing.

Keeping media and reader separate helps to protect against total catastrophe.

Re:Finally! (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132324)

May I ask how? I could understand it if you was risking to lose/break the reader when a new one wasn't available, but uhm, for a harddrive that point or kind of worth nothing.

Re:Finally! (4, Informative)

shmlco (594907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132326)

You've obviously never had a backup tape or an old Zip or Jaz drive fail to read because of differences in track calibrations or read heads.

Re:Finally! (2, Informative)

JoshHeitzman (1122379) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132358)

The reader is worthless without anything to read, so you are just as screwed if the separate media get trashed as you are if the HDD's get trashed. HDD's are cheap enough that you can just make make multiple copies of the backups and keep them at different physical locations, then in a few years copy them to bigger hard drives, rinse repeat until the data is no longer needed, or something more economical then hard drives comes along. If the HDDs are hot swappable then you can think of the HDDs as the media and the HDD bay enclosure as the reader if that makes you feel any better.

Re:Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23132364)

i guess you are assuming we keep our backup hdds inside our computers? that's the only way i can understand your stance. for home/user use, i don't see a problem with connecting a 500gb hdd via usb and using it to backup your main hdd (inside the computer). after the files have been copied, put the hdd in a closet.

Re:Finally! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23132832)

Yeah, that's a good rule, but I like how this media can be read basically infinite amount of times because there is no contact made.

It would make sense if you used this storage to not put it into cold-storage, but put it into some kind of server-room that provides ro access to the data in a secure and safe fashion.

This would allow studios to work with their raw data without risking the loss or damage of the actual physical medium.

Also, you should of course store additional backups offsite.

For the price it's not bad, no hard drive is guaranteed 50 years. I'm lucky to get 5 years nowadays, I have 6 dead hd's over 80gb sitting next to me.

Re:Finally! (1)

Sillygates (967271) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132278)

Better yet: LTO-4 (800GB per cartrage) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_Tape-Open [wikipedia.org]

Re:Finally! (1)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132978)

Til that damn LTO stretches and drops the leader in the drive and you get to ship it back or take the drive apart and void its warranty to recover the leader.

Then once recovered...

It does it again....and again....on the tape that has the data.

Tape is the best we got at this point for true portable data backup,
but lets face it Tape sucks.

I am with Google on this, keep multiple copies of the data,
and at least one copy at a different location.

They do not Tape Backup all their data, and thus I consider their
way the new way to get it done.

I have been doing it with friends for a few years, and it has
worked VERY well.

We all back each other up, and if it is private information
we store it encrypted.

3 copies works fine.

Re:Finally! (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132536)

That isn't the point, its the first holographic storage (so they say). It will increase in size, theoretically to infinite density.

That means 5 years from now holographic storage will be both cheaper and much higher density, not to mention it will likely be more reliable.

Re:Finally! (5, Funny)

Solra Bizna (716281) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132640)

It will increase in size, theoretically to infinite density.

So it'll eventually collapse into a singularity and suck up Earth? Wonderful.

-:sigma.SB

Re:Finally! (1)

SleepyHappyDoc (813919) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132666)

I was worried this might happen...someone tries to download all the porn on the internet and *POOF*

Re:Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23132870)

That already happens. You don't even need a lot of porn to get permanently sucked into your basement.

Re:Finally! (1)

Garridan (597129) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132100)

Personally, I get nostalgic just looking at one of those cartridges that the media sits in. My first CD-ROM had one of those! Only, it's more like the flimsy door on a 3.5" floppy that barely protected the fragile media from the outside world... right. And for $18000 for the reader, and $180 for a disk.

Re:Finally! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23132260)

RTFA its not a consumer product.

Its aimed at people like warner brothers who currently spend gobs of money on climate controlled vaults preserving literally tons of 35mm film, and server farms storing digital raws of movies like LOTR.

This is actually a cheaper alternative for them because they will spend much much more on the hundreds of thousands if not millions of disks then they will on the reader.

And it gives them a storage medium thats effectively ageless, instead of current HDD's that demagnetize over time (weather you use them or not) and CD/DVD's that are fairly fragile and, not to mention ultimately quite bulky.

Keep in mind this is their first public model, at 300gigs. I fully expect multi-terabyte offerings in a year or so. According to the article potential data storage is nearly unlimited, its just a matter of fine tuneing the laser controls. If the device was engineered with that in mind, its possible that firmware updates could actually increase storage size!

Also the device was manufactured to fit in a standard size optical device bay, so you wont need new hardware to add it in.

Re:Finally! (1)

Lershac (240419) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132296)

Did you watch the video? The device itself is HUGE Much larger than the computer you will be attaching it to.

Re:Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23132372)

This is actually a cheaper alternative for them because they will spend much much more on the hundreds of thousands if not millions of disks then they will on the reader.
Are you so sure about that? At the quoted speed, a single burner can only burn about 5 discs per day. Under such circumstances, it might be necessary to aim for a disc-to-drive ratio smaller than 100:1.

Re:Finally! (2, Informative)

hcmtnbiker (925661) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132310)

But you're also forgetting that holographic drives are inherently associative(at least in theory). Which solves tons of problems that ordinary drives have with look-ups and other time consuming operations.

Re:Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23132780)

What about a fire? Is it fireproof too? Cause I think all localized systems have that problem.

They should switch to a distributed solution, it's much safer.

Re:Finally! (1)

Bjrn (4836) | more than 6 years ago | (#23133040)

Also, it should also work great with the holographic keyboard [biteus.org] . And if we really work on it, maybe we can turn a complete computer into a hologram?

I'll believe it (3, Funny)

Zerth (26112) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132034)

When I can buy it.

But I won't actually buy it until after I hear at least 1 horror story about photonic lifeforms eating somebody's data or something equally bad:)

Re:I'll believe it (4, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132276)

But I won't actually buy it until after I hear at least 1 horror story about photonic lifeforms eating somebody's data or something equally bad:)
You've been watching wayyyyy to much Star Trek. Put the remote down and back away slowly...very slowly...

utterly pointless (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132076)

$18,000 could buy me enough hd's so that i could rotate 2 backup disks once a year for the next 90 years.

Re:utterly pointless (1)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132126)

Well holographic memory has faster access times than regular hard drives. That was supposed to be the selling point back when they debuted in prototype, like 7 years ago. Now that SSDs are popular and becoming cheaper, holographic memory looks to be headed off to novelty purgatory.

Re:utterly pointless (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132376)

Depends on how much more information we're going to be able to cram into SSD technology, I'd think holographic technology has a lot of potential to be able to store more from the random snippets I've read on /. over the years. Remember that when hard drives came out they stored less than 1MB (I think - my first HD was 80MB though), and were massive!

Re:utterly pointless (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132378)

Why is that? They don't spin? How are they read?

Silly Wabbits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23132346)

this is for the movies.

The quantity 1 media price of $180 for 300 GB looks expensive to us, but quite reasonable compared with the cost of 35mm film stock and long-term storage.
If it works as advertised that means the studios will buy it and redesign theatres around it to try and get us back into the theatre to see true 3d movies for the first time. Piracy for a while at least may well get priced out of business.

In Soviet Russia... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23132078)

Holographic drive promises you!
*ducks and runs back to the .su story one below*

Flashbacks.. (3, Insightful)

Grave (8234) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132088)

Wow, that brings back memories of 5.25" floppies. Makes me wonder what this tech will look like in 20 years. Internal drives with 3.5" media storing hundreds of terabytes? SD-sized holographic media? Now that this technology has moved from proof-of-concept to a purchasable product (or will be in one month), it'll be very interesting to see how quickly it progresses.

Re:Flashbacks.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23132452)

Around 2017 SD cards should be around 2 TB. Yeah, that's a lot of porn. In fact it's about 2 lifetimes worth. Or 1 lifetime at 2x the resolution. Woot.

Microsoft Put Windows Vista On It (1)

Skeetskeetskeet (906997) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132158)

When it was projected in 3-D, reports flooded into Seattle PD of a eighty-story high holographic turd towering over the Seattle skyline.

I tried to pick up a demo unit last week (5, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132164)

Unfortunately, my hand passed right through it.

Price (5, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132186)

I can see a hundred posts from people that will completely miss the point. All because of the price. Bitch, Moan, Bitch, Bitch, Moan, Moan.

FTA:

Holographic storage has a couple of neat properties.
 
1. A small fragment of a hologram can reconstruct the entire data image. The fragment won't let you move as far around the image, but for 2D images, like a photograph, it means a scratch isn't fatal.
2. Data density is theoretically unlimited. By varying the angle between the reference and illumination beams - or the angle of the media - hundreds of holograms can be stored in the same physical area.
 
Another factor: photographic media has the longest proven lifespan - over a century - of any modern media. Since there's no physical contact you can read the media millions of times with no degradation.
 
They've spec'd the optical media they use - a 5.25 clear disk in a cartridge - at 50 years.


Spinning Hard drives, Solid State Hard drives, CD's, and DVD's don't have anything CLOSE to holographic media.

Spinning Hard drives could be used, and they are, to store data for long periods of time. Problem is that it susceptible to EM fields and even while not spinning, it might be possible to have some degradation nonetheless. Holographic media is not affected by EM fields.

Solid State Hard drives are better off than spinning ones for sure, but still suffer from the same problems with an EM field AFAIK.

CD's and DVD's long shelf life is a MYTH. Most of them are not manufactured to last longer then 5-10 years. A scratch can easily damage either one of them, and repairs are not easy. Holographic Medium? Apparently not.

So the .50 cent per gigabyte price point may not be that attractive to the average IT guy, but when you have to make ABSOLUTELY sure the data will remain intact it certainly sounds like the way to go. The 18,000$ dollar cost for reader/writer will come down eventually, so that is really not even an issue. Hell, my first CD-R cost me 600$ and I STILL have my 1200$ Pinnacle Micro 4x4.

The fact they actually got it to production and selling it means there is a pretty good chance of seeing a few thousand dollar reader/writer within 2 years.

For those that are really hung up on the price, consider this:

To be REALLY safe with your data you would have remove all single points of failure. A single hard drive on a shelf IS a single point of failure, as is a CD/DVD. So you would need to be constantly "rolling" over the data in multiple RAIDS with snapshots, while at the same time, verifying the integrity with checksums before every snapshot. To take it one step further, multiple locations that synchronize over high speed networks... iSCSI?

Apparently a holographic medium can be written with "hundreds of holograms being stored in the same physical area". Sure sounds to me like you could store quite a bit of data with a considerable amount of recovery capability. I would hazard a guess, that just a few of these written this way and stored in separate physical locations would provide the same level of reliability and redundancy that current solutions provide (such as the one I outlined)... with a 50-100 year shelf life. If you look up the actual costs of iSCSI this sounds like a bargain to me.

Re:Price (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132214)

what do you do if they go out of business and your reader fails? afterall the reader is susceptible to EM fields that you are so afraid of.

lots of standard HD's is a fair better option and a lot safer then some non standard tech that only one company makes.

Re:Price (5, Informative)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132312)

Who is to say that they will not license the technology? If they go out of business, somebody stepped into to buy the assets. Technology patented? Patents disappear in 20 years (or they should).

How is the reader susceptible to magnetic fields again? We are talking about just the reader right? If you are referring to EMP blasts from something like a nuclear device, then the fact your holo reader is not working is the least of your problems. Not trying to be sarcastic (at least not totally), but how does EM affect any kind of CD/DVD/HOLO readers?

You are also forgetting the target market here. Somebody like Disney. Didn't we just hear that a FUCKING JANITOR found one of Disney's long lost films in Japan? When you have incredibly valuable content that you have created, and archiving process like this is well worth it. If they don't have working readers in 40 years, I would say they could afford to have a firm make one for them from the plans available on the Internet in 2058.

The technology itself is promising, and "lots of standard HD's" are not a better option, or safer. If you were to evaluate the total costs, standard HD's would cost your more in the long run to achieve the same level of reliability as this holographic technology.

You also need to remember, this is not like a hard drive. It does not have any proprietary IC components, no internal firmwares, no connectors, moving parts, etc. It is a solid piece of holographic material. If you take it out of the case and set it on a desk, you can SEE the data with your own eyes. To get the data back off into a computer system, simply requires some lasers and mathematical algorithms, which I would guess is going to be trivial in a few decades. A hard drive is NOT the same. If you took a 250 MEG HD from over 15 years ago and had to remove the platters, just how easy would it be to find parts that could read those platters again? Remember, the density has changed from 15 years ago. The internal parts and technology in hard drives is substantially different now. At least with Holographic media, you don't even have to TOUCH it. Just set it on top of some lasers and read it with whatever technology you have.

Re:Price (3, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132724)

If you're Disney, or anyone else with data valuable enough to possibly justify recreating an ancient media format reader, then the correct archive solution isn't a single format. It's a storage facility that has people maintaining the archive and updating formats and verifying that the data is still readable. Rather like a library, complete with librarians.

If you're comparing reconstructing a reader, then reading an ancient 250MB disk is easy -- there is tech now that can read off damaged and warped platters through techniques not dissimilar to electron microscopy, and I guarantee it could handle a far-less-dense 250MB drive without issue. Figuring out the low-level formatting would be no harder than for the holo media, and probably rather easier.

Re:Price (5, Interesting)

samkass (174571) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132256)

A scratch loses you data, period. Whether it's holographic or not, you're either trading capacity for recoverability or you're vulnerable to a scratch. There's no magic here. Even with Blu-Ray you could store the data using forward error correction in such a way that complete obliteration of 1/4 of the disc still yields 100% of your data-- you'll just reduce the storage capacity somewhat.

Presumably, however, holographic storage has so much dang storage available that it's not a problem to give some of it up to have enough redundancy to survive typical wear and tear. (And all optical media gets wear and tear just from being spun up and down in non-cleanroom environments.)

And if you're worried about the longevity of CDs and DVDs, scratches aren't really what you're worried about anyway. Most scratches are on the clear plastic and can be repaired. However, some discs were manufactured with chemicals that oxidizes the layers, some with defects in the seal, etc. So your typical "stamped" disc will last decades if free of defect, but less than a decade if it has one-- and there's almost no way of knowing ahead of time. I don't know what substrate the holographic image is being stored on, but we'll have to see if it's completely free of degradation over decades. I certainly wouldn't want to immediately dump important data into this format and throw away the originals yet.

So for now it just remains an expensive unproven alternative... we'll have to see where it goes, though.

Re:Price (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132292)

And all optical media gets wear and tear just from being spun up and down in non-cleanroom environments.
With something this expensive, I see no reason that the disc needs to be spun up.

Re:Price (1)

NuclearError (1256172) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132486)

With something this expensive, they had better come up with a better name than the Tapestry 300.

Re:Price (4, Interesting)

davolfman (1245316) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132462)

Not exactly. As I understand it holographic media works fundamentally different from an optical disk and no bit is dependent on a single location on the disk. Instead of a scratch taking out several bits from different tracks that the CRC codes make up for a scratch makes a large number of bits loose definition uncritically. In this fashion a holographic disk would take quite a few scratches with no data lost until it started reaching a threshold where all of the bits started to read unreliably all at once. That said I'm coming from Wikipedia so who knows how biased and inaccurate that information is for this particular technology.

Re:Price (5, Informative)

wik (10258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132532)

If you want to learn more about this, I suggest Dr. Wilson's talk [cmu.edu] on InPhase's technology at CMU in November. It's a very accessible and interesting talk for someone who is not familiar with the field.

Re:Price (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132876)

If they're doing a spinning media with serial read and write patterns, that implies that the size of the coherent hologram is vastly less than the size of the disk. Which means that scratches lose the data that is stored on that part of the disk. I have no idea how large a domain they're using, but I'd guess kilobits or less.

Re:Price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23132718)

yeah, you're telling me you can get scrathces on holograms?

and sorry to burst your bubble, but if you have any real life experience, CDs and DVDs DO NOT last long. It doesnt take very long to google cd/dvd recovery techniques and start applying toothpaste like a madman on all your backup dvds. which hasnt worked for me ever btw.

Re:Price (1)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132274)

Data density is theoretically unlimited.
No it isn't, it's 300GB per cartridge.

A scratch can easily damage either one of them, and repairs are not easy. Holographic Medium? Apparently not.
I'll believe that when I see it and when you don't need to pay for expensive services to recover data from a damaged disk, i.e. any normal reader can do it.

Re:Price (2, Informative)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132426)

It's 300 for the current read/write device. Theoretically, it's unlimited.

Re:Price (1)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132622)

Perhaps, but my point is that what is theoretically possible and what has been realized and is actually available are two very different things, and what is "theoretical" is not what you are actually paying for.

I'll happily sell you my desktop PC for $18,000. Theoretically, one day you'll be able to upgrade it to what is now considered a supercomputer for $300 in parts.

Re:Price (3, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132434)

Huh? The theoretical possibilities aren't important -- what matters is what this drive can do, at least when you start talking about price. Physical holograms can no more hold infinite data than analog film has infinite resolution -- there are limitations somewhere, be they high or low. If you push close to those limitations, it won't be scratch resistant -- how resistant it is to damage depends on how much error correction you have, be it in the form of not using the full available resolution or by using electronic ECC techniques. (Care to guess which one is more efficient? Care to guess which one CDs and DVDs use?)

As for longevity -- there's no particular reason the plastics in the holographic storage will have any longer life than CDs or DVDs. If they say it'll last 50 years, then I'm inclined to believe they used decent plastics. But, you can get CD / DVD media that's rated for 300 years. It doesn't matter what damage sources holograms are "theoretically" susceptible to, what matters is what *this product* is susceptible to. Perhaps it doesn't delaminate, but what about heat / humidity / CD eating bacteria [bbc.co.uk] ?

For archival media, my biggest concern would be whether I can find a reader in 50 years. I think the odds of that are a lot better for CD / DVD than for this -- though if I really care, it definitely needs some sort of maintenance program to make sure the data is intact and readable.

Re:Price (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132504)

Hey, look I agree with you. Theory and practice are 2 different things. I am referring to what they state the product has no. I did not put any real emphasis on infinite data but more so on the ability of sacrificing total capacity for some recovery capability. Also, it seems that a scratch can be mitigated by simply reading it from a slightly different angle. I dunno the exact technical way to do this, but they at least mention that some recovery is possible right around a scratch.

As for the longevity, they are openly stating that the materials they use have proven shelf lives much longer then CD/DVD. It is not the same material apparently. If you can get CD/DVD to be rated at 300 years, what is the cost (pennies per gigabyte)? You would need to factor that in as well.

Furthermore, your concern about the reader in 50 years is a little bit unfounded. CD/DVD and HOLO both use lasers to read their data. The technology to read it does not seem to be that substantially different. Maybe a different color laser, and some algorithms, but nothing insurmountable. I can even see a device in 10 years that you could place either of the three on a surface and have it read.

Re:Price (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132700)

100 year DVDs [datamediastore.com] are $108 for 50. I believe 300 year CDs are similar technology and price.

The question isn't whether the technology to read these in 50 years will exist, it's whether I can buy a reader off the shelf. Sure, for truly critical data, you might be able to reconstruct a reader in 50 years -- but for most purposes, that's not practical. There are plenty of things that I might want to store that long that don't have thousands of dollars worth of budget to recover them. What I really care about is how likely this company is to be making a product that can read the data -- and since they don't seem to be pushing to make this a big standard, it has to be them, not someone else. I put the odds as nonzero, but not so high I'd trust critical data to it.

The tech is very cool and all, but I would be *very* reluctant to trust it for archival purposes.

Re:Price (1)

Hao Wu (652581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132464)

CD's and DVD's long shelf life is a MYTH. Most of them are not manufactured to last longer then 5-10 years.

WHAT?! I originally adopted CDs because of this widespread promise:

"The Compact Disc Digital Audio System offers the best possible sound reproduction -- on a small, convenient disc. The Compact Disc's remarkable performance is the result of a unique combination of digital playback with laser optics. For the best results, you should apply the same care in storing and handling Compact Discs as with conventional records. Do not expose the disc to direct sunlight, heat, or humidity for a prolonged period of time. No further cleaning will be necessary if the Compact Disc is always held by the edges and is replaced in its case directly after playing. Should the Compact Disc become soiled by fingerprints, dust or dirt, it can be wiped (always in a straight line, from the center to the edge) with a clean, lint-free, soft dry cloth. Using Ethyl Alcohol if necessary. Do not use conventional record cleaner. If you follow these suggestions, the Compact Disc will provide a lifetime of pure listening enjoyment."

Re:Price (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23132480)

1. A small fragment of a hologram can reconstruct the entire data image. The fragment won't let you move as far around the image, but for 2D images, like a photograph, it means a scratch isn't fatal.

Um, yea, for a 2D analog photograph. For binary data this is completely irrelevant and meaningless. There ain't no such thing as a low-quality, low resolution bit.

2. Data density is theoretically unlimited. I guess. Unless you start talking about the limits of the information density of your physical medium, or the resolution and accuracy of your read/write process. Whatever you might think, a single atom can only store so many bits.

Another factor: photographic media has the longest proven lifespan - over a century - of any modern media. Sure, if by "proven" you mean look at all those photos I print that are already fading. Oh, you mean those old chemical and film photos? I didn't realize this holographic disk whatever uses film and photo processing. Let's not go back to that again, please, no.

Since there's no physical contact you can read the media millions of times with no degradation. This certainly beats a normal hard disks, where the read head uses a little mini back hoe to scoop up parts of the disk and feed them to the sensor, then has to glue them back in place. And CDs lets not forget. Teh lazers! They rulz?

Holographic media is not affected by EM fields.

Yup, just like flash storage, CDs, printouts, and punchcards. Or maybe you just forgot part? Let me help. Holo disks are also impervious to physical damage, light, lasers, fire, vibration, scratches, dust, EM, radiation.

To be REALLY safe with your data you would have remove all single points of failure. A single hard drive on a shelf IS a single point of failure, as is a CD/DVD. So you would need to be constantly "rolling" over the data in multiple RAIDS with snapshots, while at the same time, verifying the integrity with checksums before every snapshot. To take it one step further, multiple locations that synchronize over high speed networks... iSCSI?

With this new holo stuff, you can just take your data (or what you think is your data (and which might be corrupt already) or not yours, or incomplete, or broken already) and throw it at this holo disk thing. And then forget about it! By the magic of holo storage, whatever you had meant to put on the disk will eventually be there. Along with the stuff you actually put there. And the fixed up and corrected versions of both of those. And the one where your spelling typos have been fixed up, and your girlfriend's photo looks like (oh, wait, no gf? nevermind then.).

Apparently a holographic medium can be written with "hundreds of holograms being stored in the same physical area".

OMG! A single box! On your desk! with hundreds (hundreds!!) of pieces of data on it! At the! Same! Time!

But apparently, it sure sounds to me like I might hazard a guess that if you look up, your boss might have left the office, so you can stop shilling now.

Re:Price (1)

Solra Bizna (716281) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132688)

Your entire post is flawed. I know you're trolling, so I'm going to limit myself to one correction.

There ain't no such thing as a low-quality, low resolution bit.

Ever heard of ECC? It's all the rage in storage media...

-:sigma.SB

Dirt cheap compared to MO/UDO (1)

daBass (56811) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132514)

You are totally right about most other options not being reliable, the worst being HDDs; you need to keep those spinning regularly and replace them every few years.

People are still reading their decades old MO discs that have been left on the shelf.

Lots of organizations have the need to archive their data and currently the only game in town are MO ($10/GB) and UDO (slightly less) with drives costing $3000+.

That makes the TCO of an 18K drive with 50c/GB very, very attractive to this market and that is what this system is competing with.

Now the only thing that needs to happen is for the technology to be licensed to other players because most CIOs are unlikely to put all their eggs in one basket.

Re:Price (2, Interesting)

Ruie (30480) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132560)

Solid State Hard drives are better off than spinning ones for sure, but still suffer from the same problems with an EM field AFAIK.


This is not quite correct. Sure, if you zap them with a large enough static charge it will burn out the chips - but this is more likely to apply to the interface chips rather than the flash that carries data. Flash is also susceptible to radiation. Otherwise it is pretty robust.


Holographic storage however, likely relies on some sort of photo-sensitive dye or phase change material - which will have big problems if you leave it inside a car during a hot summer day.

Re:Price (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132564)

CD's and DVD's long shelf life is a MYTH.
Yes, we know that... NOW. What shelf life does holographic media have? Oh right, they say 50-100 years so I should believe their marketing but not that other one. As a side note, stamped media looks to do much better than burned media and last much longer than 10 years. In the end I wouldn't trust any one media, the only salvation is parity and redundancy as the holographic discs could be physically destroyed too. Then it's a matter of cost, and there's the cost today and there's the cost in 10, 20 and 50 years.

20 years ago storing 300GB in ANY system would have been absurdly expensive. Today I can throw up a RAID1 + offsite backup for next to nothing. It would not be very hard to make a system to rotate disks, regularly reading the remaining disks, checking PAR and correcting and writing them back say once every three months (the in-disk remapping will benefit from this) to catch failures before they result in data loss. The good news is that this will be upgraded, so that in 20 years it might occupy a tiny corner on my 30TB flash drive.

Yes, we're running into some hard limits on computing. Are we running into some hard limits on storage? Not that I can see, as long as we're not talking about getting it to the CPU it's all a matter of cost. You can have 32GB memory sticks today which are microscopic, bring the price down and a 30TB 3.6" drive isn't unrealistic. In short, over the allegded lifetime of this holodisc it's going to be microscopic. Either it'll disappear out again, or it too will improve. Will readers 10, 20 years from now still read holodisc 1.0? Or are you digging through scrapyards looking for one still working? Keeping the data on a current medium has always been the best bet.

Re:Price (1)

RockModeNick (617483) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132566)

My main question is, why should I believe the media will actually last 50 years? According to design specs, current optical media should last at least that long. But even the well made stuff barely lasts 1/3 the time. We won't know for sure until at least 15 years from now how well the holographic discs actually hold relative to a high quality optical media, or if something unexpected will cut their reliable life to a small fraction of what is expected.

This will be quite amazing if... (2, Interesting)

kickmyassman (1199237) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132216)

The data retention time is, in fact, 50 years. If the data turns out to be usable through the years than this will turn out to be invaluable. The film industry currently has a crisis on their hands where more and more "garbage" video of sets when no filming is going on and alternate scenes, interviews and all the things we see on the "extra features" sections on those fancy new blu-ray and DVD discs. They need some way to safely and easily store that media for many, MANY years before the common media supports it, and it the discs last 50+ years? This will be a boon. Especially if damaged discs turn out to be as easily recovered as is theoretically possible. The only x-factor will be whether the discs from the first generation of reader/writers is compatible with future generations. If they are? This is a winner.

Re:This will be quite amazing if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23132508)

If the film industry doesn't have the discipline to migrate their data from old formats to new ones when they approach endlife, they can always outsource the job to some other company. Outsourced long-term storage behaves just like a vault and is much cheaper than using high-longevity media.

Is it really 50 years? (3, Insightful)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132220)

Their main selling point is longevity. You can store the data on a disk and read it back 50 years from now. Will this company even exist 50 years from now? Will anyone have the equipment to read one of these disks in 50 years? Have they published the specs so you can construct your own equipment, should it become necessary? I don't see this working out. Archiving needs to be done with well-known open standards. InPhase doesn't seem to be off to a very good start in that respect.

Re:Is it really 50 years? (1)

kickmyassman (1199237) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132270)

It's all backwards compatibility. If it turns out to be? This will be quite an achievement.

Re:Is it really 50 years? (1)

Lershac (240419) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132314)

Well, as this is a targetted market, I would think that backwards compatibility within the same device family would be a foregone conclusion.... but who the heck knows really.

Re:Is it really 50 years? (1)

R3N3G4D3 (1227590) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132342)

Even if they do use an open standard, there are other problems. Considering the trend in storage/speed expansion and size reduction, 50 years from now this drive will probably be the equivalent of a 2MB "super-density" drive from the 1980s that takes up the whole table all by itself and is incompatible with any computer that came out in the last 25 years.

Re:Is it really 50 years? (2, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132418)

You can store the data on a disk and read it back 50 years from now.

      Oh the RIAA and MPAA are not going to like THAT. Cue the yearly fee to access your movies/music.

Compared to tape, it fails. (1)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132222)

LTO-4 tape:
A drive is $5000, and an 800 GB tape is $120. Magnetic tape has a very long, provable, verified and *good* track record at being able to retain data. I've read 30 year old 9-track reels, and have cassettes from the 70's that'll still play.

Their drive is 3x the price, and their media is 50% more expensive for half the space. Their only benefit is the holographic media is random access. Bah. If it's for archiving, who cares about random access?

This gadget smells like fail. Their *only* niche is providing a long term archiving solution with random access, that can't be modified once written (TFA mentions nothing about rewritability). Maybe nice for government or accountability work, but that's all I can think of.

Re:Compared to tape, it fails. (1)

kickmyassman (1199237) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132246)

The read/write times for holographic media outstrip even the fastest tape drives. If the technology proves to work at even half of the projected speeds it will have numbers in the GIGBYTES per read/write. And the point is that, no matter how hard you tried, you could never keep a continual backup using that tape drive because you'd chew the tape to death over the course of a billion writes, and have little idea until you went back to read it.

Re:Compared to tape, it fails. (1)

RockModeNick (617483) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132614)

This thing can only burn about 5 of the 300gb disks per day. Keep in mind CD media were "projected" to last nearly 100 years. The article also makes no mention of the media being rewritable, so you will be buying new 300gb disks for every single backup, anyway. This is STILL the technology of the future.

Re:Compared to tape, it fails. (1)

kickmyassman (1199237) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132954)

Actually the video seemed to imply that it was re-writable. So I say nay! It isn't too off in the future. And really, if all of this stuff is being fab'd in-house the quality may be good enough to make claims about longevity of the media. What will drop it off and destroy it will be when they're mass produced, at which point cheap imperfections will make it just as unlikely to last. And as I said, if it eventually gets up to it's predicted speeds. Yes, it's an emerging technology, it's not as impressive as it will be. Did you burn CDs at 52X the first day they came out? Hell, I still burn DVDs at 8X, what's the big deal with having to take a while to burn now? It'll get better.

Re:Compared to tape, it fails. (1)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 6 years ago | (#23133036)

As I said below, from the InPhase website:
"20MB/s-120 MB/s transfer rate and milliseconds data access time"
So, current gen is one sixth as fast as an LTO tape drive. Stores less. Costs more both for the drive and media.

Also from the InPhase website:
"True WORM Media"
Meaning, write ONCE. So your straw man argument about a billion writes makes no sense, and highlights yet another advantage of tape. The $120 cartridge is *reusable*. The only advantage is, as I said above, the data can't be tampered with.

Also don't forget who their target market was. *Archival*. If you need to read from the media *that* often, you'll be reading from a hard drive instead, after reading the tape or holodisk just once.

Like I said, smells like fail. Milliscond access times are worthless for long term storage.

Re:Compared to tape, it fails. (1)

Lershac (240419) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132334)

speed is the key here... This thing will eat LTO's lunch. Huge amounts of data and the amount of data to be stored seems to be growing faster and faster.

Tape drives have been striving to keep up. Know any tape drives that can slam back 300GB of data in a (literal) couple of minutes... as in 2 or 3?

Re:Compared to tape, it fails. (1)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132996)

Know any tape drives that can slam back 300GB of data in a (literal) couple of minutes... as in 2 or 3?
Nope. However, LTO-4 drives can write at 120 MB/sec, sustained. Which just happens to be faster than anything but a fast RAID array can deliver it.

I also happened to read InPhase's website:
"300GB - 1.6TB Capacities
20MB/s-120 MB/s transfer rate and milliseconds data access time"

i.e. Their *current* device, at 300 GB, is *ONE SIXTH* as fast as current tape drives.

This thing will be LTO's lunch. --there, fixed that for you.

In other news... (2, Funny)

ithinkuknow (598474) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132282)

InPhase Technologies announces it will also be releasing Duke Nukem Forever by the end of the year.

Re:In other news... (1)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132340)

Only available on InPhase Holocube(TM).

Re:In other news... (2, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132402)

InPhase Technologies announces it will also be releasing Duke Nukem Forever by the end of the year.

      Problem is, they forgot to mention WHICH year. As usual.

      I pre-ordered my copy of Duke anyway.

Re:In other news... (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132450)

Wow, is there anything they can't do? Next year it'll be a flying car and a space elevator! Oh and full DirectX 9 & 10 compatability for WINE!

Home video Archive (1)

Lershac (240419) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132356)

When this gets down to $100/terabyte, I will very very seriously consider getting one for my personal use storing my ripped DVD and bluray movies.... Right now I am looking at about 5-10K for a shoestring array to store my DVD and BR collection on for instant access.

I call BS (1, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132382)

From the article "Holographic storage has a couple of neat properties... Data density is theoretically unlimited."

Nothing in this universe is unlimited.

Re:I call BS (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132392)

Nothing in this universe is unlimited.

      In an unlimited universe, everything can be unlimited?

Re:I call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23132512)

Hydrogen and Stupidity for a start

Re:I call BS (1)

JustShootMe (122551) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132660)

Any sufficiently large number is indistinguishable from unlimited.

Re:I call BS (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132732)

300GB is not sufficiently large, then.

Re:I call BS (1)

JustShootMe (122551) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132746)

nope. One million exabytes, for all practical purposes, is.

Re:I call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23132920)

You say that now, but there was a time when the three megabytes of hot RAM in the Hitachi was a lot.

Re:I call BS (1)

Gerafix (1028986) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132970)

Apparently you have not tried installing the latest Windows, that was at least ten trillion exabytes.

Re:I call BS (1)

Danny Rathjens (8471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132938)

It amuses me that you counter one exaggerated absolute statement with another. ;)

Re:I call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23133002)

In a continuous universe there are an infinite number of points of existence, which sounds like "theoretical" unlimited data storage to me.

Re:I call BS (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 6 years ago | (#23133054)

Stupidity is unlimited in any quantifiable sense.

Target Market? (2, Interesting)

sat1308 (784251) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132428)

From TFA:
Which gets us to InPhase's target market: archiving. That's why they were showing at NAB.

I don't get it. No matter how valuable your content, why would you pay $18,000 for a burner and $180 for for a 300GB disc? Just for the price of the media, you can mirror your data across three different brand-new hard disks. Surely the odds of 3 hard disks failing at the same time are lower than that of an untested, brand-new technology with no redundancy?

Maybe I'm too thick, but why would anyone buy this at this price? (Other than the coolness/my dick is bigger than yours factor, of course.)

Missing the point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23132478)

I see a lot of short-minded folks here, who are completely missing the point of this. The technology has just debuted and you are already putting it down. I bet you are the same people who hate Vista right now, and who are using XP, but hated it before it became mainstream, same with Windows ME, etc.

Lest it slip by (4, Interesting)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132500)

- We were also told CD and DVD storage was long lived. While 30 years can be expected of a few of the highest grade disks http://club.cdfreaks.com/f33/taiyo-yuden-faq-178622/ [cdfreaks.com] 3 years is what most of them manage. Theoretical limits typically don't make it past manufacturers.

- It may indeed last 50 years, but will the equipment it's to be connected to? I've got the first 100MB drive to hit the market. It has lots of stuff on it I want to retrieve. It's a good thing I've kept the 18 year old Apple IIgs it's inside of operating.

Better implemented on solid state holographic storage, but still possible on disk, is the reverse processing of image to beams. (There's a SciAm article from 1995 or so on holographic storage, particularly solid state, that covers this).

Store lots of images on the disk. Illuminate it with a hologram of a target image. Out of each image comes copies of the original reference beams, at a strength proportional to the similarity of the stored image to the target image. Nearly instantaneous, simultaneous retrieval with correlation score built into the signal strength. Lost is the different angles that'd be had in a solid state device, so scanning the disk for reading all the beams and finding those of interest might take a bit longer. The entire US government fingerprint files could fit on one disk and the whole thing searched in seconds, as is often seen on TV. Using it for movie storage makes marketing sense, especially with the initial price tag of $18,000 and disks being $180. But leaving it at that would be a damn shame.

Rotating media! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23132552)

Why is this thing based on rotating media? I thought the point of holograms was the interaction of the 2 lasers and the image/data can be read from any angle...

Holographic Porn Archive (2, Funny)

BobSixtyFour (967533) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132694)

I wonder if the porn we "archive" on it will show up in 3d if we open it up and view the hologram... see it take a life of its own by giving it so much data in a small area :)

Re:Holographic Porn Archive (1)

the brown guy (1235418) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132754)

If you see that happening, lay off the acid, or tell your mom to finish up, get her clothes back on, and get out.

Wow! This is the coolest thing since the White LED (4, Interesting)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132812)

Holographic technology turned into a functioning read/write data system? --Just the idea is SO totally cool! The linear storage we've seen to date has been like the Formula One race track of development, and people have come up with some very clever techniques to squeeze every scrap of use out of it, but really, we've been locked in two dimensions for all this time. Adding a third dimension is watershed stuff. Talk about blasting Moore's Law out of orbit!

Think about those early 10 megabyte hard drives. Take that form factor and blow it up over the same length of time and you get some crazy-huge numbers. A third dimension to play with? That's like going from DC to AC in terms of complexity and possibility. Interestingly enough, the establishment resisted AC as well. I half suspect that the math simply demanded more brain power than the old school engineers were willing or able to invest.

I remember the day when a roommate took the indoor cat out to the roof. The cat saw the sky for the first time and wet itself, flattened right to the ground and was basically reduced to a form of catatonia. After living in a one-floor apartment, (two-dimensional), being presented with a whole lot of up and down created a great deal of irritation.


-FL

I'm assuming...... (1)

Running Fool (748498) | more than 6 years ago | (#23132872)

it's coming pre-loaded with Duke Nukem Forever.

Reminds me of the Pinnacle Apex drive... (2, Interesting)

PrimeWaveZ (513534) | more than 6 years ago | (#23133042)

I remember hearing about the 4.6GB of storage back in the mid-90s, and it was quite underwhelming when it came out. MO never really took off, long-term. This, I think, may be different.

If the technology in this stuff pans out and can be developed economically and scale well over time (MO didn't), I think it has some real opportunities to take off in certain sectors. It's not for everyone, but neither are rackmounted RAIDs, iSCSI and tape loaders.

For naysayers: do any of you think that this company WANTS to release a boat anchor device like it seems to be going by their pictures? If what the company says is true, and this is not vaporware, the physical size of the drive may be a worthwhile trade-off in terms of capacity and reliability. As technology is developed, processes shrink, things get cheaper, and storage capacity gets bigger. I remember old MO drives being big, and as some pointed, out, a single CD-R costing $40.

I'm not going to buy this thing, but I'll certainly be watching its development in the marketplace. It's interesting to watch, just like I did the Apex back in the day.
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