When I wrote "Terabyte Holographic Storage in 2004?" several months ago, I was skeptical about the apparition of holographic storage. Now, prototypes combining high storage densities, fast transfer rates, with durable, reliable, low cost media are being introduced. eWEEK starts with defining the technology.
Holography stores data by using multiple light beams to create chemical reactions. The result is data that's smaller and more permanent than laser-induced ridges and valleys, and as fast or faster than magnetic electron flopping. For users, that means consolidation is possible due to higher capacities, and the chance of corruption during data restores decreases.
InPhase Technologies Inc. will announce progress on this front at the National Association of Broadcasters 2003 (NAB) conference, next week in Las Vegas.
Bill Wilson, chief scientist at InPhase, of Longmont, Colo., said first-generation holographic drives would appear as standard interfaces to existing libraries and servers. It won't be until successive generations that existing storage technology will be able to exploit holographic data's unique characteristics, he told eWEEK in a recent interview. A basis for that second generation will be rewriteable media, which InPhase is working to develop as part of a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Advanced Technology Program.
And InPhase is not alone.
Another holographic vendor, Aprilis, Inc., is conducting media research. Today's holographic media is just 400 microns thick -- 16 one-thousandths of an inch -- said John Berg, CEO, in Maynard, Mass. That can hold about 200GB, he said, which is impressive compared to conventional hard drives but meager compared to modern optical and tape media. Thicknesses of 800 microns, expected in 2005, will store up to a terabyte, he said.
A unique aspect of Aprilis' technology is the ability to multiplex data using several different methods. By having different multiplexing methods, drives can be tweaked for the best performance, highest density, lowest cost, or combinations of those attributes, Aprilis officials said.
Expect to first see these devices in environments where data is not intensively used. This technology transfers data in big chunks, so it's not very appealing for transactional environments.
Source: Evan Koblentz, eWEEK, April 3, 2003
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