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General Electric has unveiled a micro-holographic disc aimed at the data
archiving market that can store 500GB of data and is the same size as existing
DVDs.

Though aimed primarily at organizations that need huge storage capacity, the
company also believes the technology will eventually come downmarket for
consumers to store home media.

Micro-holographic technology has been one of the leading areas of research
focus for storage experts for decades. However, if GE wants the technology to
see adoption beyond corporate storage deployments, the company will need to
work with consumer hardware manufacturers that serve the consumer market.

The relatively modest adoption of Blu-ray discs could be seen as a validation
of those organizations that believe digital distribution and cloud computing is
a better long-term answer to content delivery and storage than disc, no matter
how high the capacity.

Blu-ray discs can currently hold between 25GB and 50GB. GE’s micro-holographic
discs store information in three dimensions on the disc, rather than simply
pitting the discs’ surface like DVD or
Blu-ray technology.

The challenge thus far has been to increase the reflectivity of the stored
holograms to enable disc players to both read and write to the discs. But Brian
Lawrence, who leads GE’s Holographic Storage team, wrote on the GE Research
blog that recently GE has dramatically improved the materials used to make the
discs, enabling significant increases in the amount of light that can be
reflected by the holograms, and therefore increasing capacity.

Though still in the development and testing stage, GE believes the technology
will take off because players can be built that are backward-compatible with
existing DVD and Blu-ray technologies.

"The hardware and formats are so similar to current optical storage
technology that the micro-holographic players will enable consumers to play
back their CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs," GE said in a statement.

"GE’s breakthrough is a huge step toward bringing our next generation
holographic storage technology to the everyday consumer," Lawrence
said in a statement.