GE Intros Micro-Holographic Disc with 500GB of Storage

By Sharon Linsenbach

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.



This article was originally published on 2009-04-27