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> Holographic Versatile Disc, A data storage revolution?
post Dec 6 2005, 07:14 AM
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Holographic Versatile Disc (HVD) is an advanced optical disc technology still in the research stage which would greatly increase storage over Blu-ray and HD-DVD optical disc systems.
The books in the US Library of Congress, one of the largest libraries in the world, contain a total of about 20 terabytes of text. Neglecting images, the content could be stored on a little more than 6 of these discs.
"By late 2001 the fastest high-performance drives were capable of an average latency of less than 3ms, an average seek time of between 4 and 7ms and maximum data transfer rates in the region of 50-60MB/s for EIDE and SCSI-based drives respectively." ----- These discs could transfer information twice as fast as modern day computer hard-drives.

Would this cause a data storage revolution? Why or why not? How?
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post Dec 6 2005, 01:17 PM
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Hmm. This technology (or something like it) would certainly be a big step forward in dtat storage.

There's nothing in the article to suggest 're-writeability' (forgive the clumsy neologism), so we're stuck with magnetic hard disks for the moment for bulk re-writeable data.

Storage of this amount of data as write-once read-only limits the commercial applications somewhat. Especially those that are delivered to the public at large, even if HVD becomes the standard in specialist research and business applications.

For example, it might be nice to have the entire library of congress on six HVD discs, but without a complete revolution in intellectual property rights, it would still cost many thousands of dollars to buy each set, putting it beyond the reach of most purchasers (except maybe funded academic libraries). Plus, without broadband links of comparable data transfer rates, the discs would be out of date as soon as they were printed.

The same would be true of keeping 820 full length feature films on one disk. Even cinema exhibitors wouldn't want that many, would they?

Being charitable, let's assume that state of the art 3D super-high definition digital surround sound movies of the type that would give George Lucas a drooling fit might take ten or twenty times the storage capacity of a domestic modern DVD (not HD). That still means you could fit maybe 40 films or more onto a single HVD disc. A multiplex rarely shows more than ten at a time, and how in the heck would you be able to read the same physical disc ten different times or more (one for each screen) anyway?

And the sheer size means we either have to think of entirely novel applications, or waste much of the potential. Maybe the generation of games consoles after next could use them in some bigger-than-GTA-Vice-City, hyper-real-graphics, 3D super-game?

Doubtless there are lots of applications that have been imagined which have been parked because no storage technology of sufficient capability has arisen to support them, so HVD might bring them back to life. Though I don't know what they might be.
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post Dec 6 2005, 03:31 PM
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There's nothing in the article to suggest 're-writeability' (forgive the clumsy neologism), so we're stuck with magnetic hard disks for the moment for bulk re-writeable data.


Actually, a data storage revolution is happening even as we scribble. This is a technology that is old, but now it is becoming economically feasible with cheaper memory chips. It is called Solid-State Disk.

[the trumpets blare, the doves fly, the Earth moves, old mainframers yawn]

Give it a Google to find the commercial offerings. It's still pretty pricey for the individual, but imagine the advantages.

- No moving parts to wear out
- Data integrity better than spinning disk
- High-speed read/writes without caching
- Never a disk crash, maybe a failed memory chip
- Small form-factor
- Compatible with today's interfaces and storage management software

I can see it coming down the pike: the ultra quiet laptop, the desktop shrunk down to the size of a deck of cards, TBs of storage on a couple of chips, petabytes in a single storage array.

Optical technologies will always have moving parts. Solid-state beats it out just on this level, but the performance improvements bring it way over the top.
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post Dec 6 2005, 03:56 PM
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Another advantage to super-high-capacity storage media is to be found in the business world. Large corporations, especially those whose business is transactional in nature, have databases whose size can easily reach into the terabytes. And because of the critical nature of that data, they need to back it up nightly. Currently the only economical way to do this is with storage tapes, which happen to be rather slow and bulky. Companies tend to have only a handful and cycle through them.

HVD could offer some nice potential. From what I understand, it currently has capacity of 3.9 TB, and that will likely increase as research continues. It has seek/write/etc. latency lower than DVD and certainly much lower than tape. Once these disks become cheap enough, we can say goodbye to tapes.

There is one concern, though: it would be unfortunately too easy for someone to slip your entire 3TB database into his pocket and walk out the door.

(Edited to get my numbers right)

This post has been edited by jaellon: Dec 6 2005, 04:24 PM
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