Within a year, storage technology could be revolutionised by the availability of holographic storage, which will eventually allow terabytes of data to be stored on an individual disc, a supplier has claimed.
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Holographic storage technology, or holography, conquers the disc density limits of conventional storage media.
Rather than recording only on the surface, it uses lasers to record through the full depth of the physical medium.
In addition, unlike other technologies that record one data bit at a time, holography allows a million bits of data to be written and read in parallel with a single beam of light, enabling transfer rates that are significantly higher than current optical storage devices.
The storage media features light sensitive crystals which undergo a chemical change when data is recorded onto them.
The media itself is durable, reliable and has a relatively low cost. Suppliers are developing a variety of holographic storage products, from enterprise storage systems to handheld devices for consumers.
Data is recorded using light from a single laser beam split into two beams. One beam carries the data, and a reference beam carries its location. A hologram is formed where these two beams intersect in the recording medium.
One of the first suppliers to sell holographic media will be Maxell, which plans to release products in September 2006. The first drive will have a capacity of 300Gbytes and a throughput of 160 mbps.
According to Maxell, one 13cm optical disc can store up to 150 million pages - more than 63 times the capacity of DVD.