Back in December 2004, I commented on Paul DeLong‘s LiveJournal about holographic data storage. He even pointed out a company called Litiholo that made an invention I’d been dreaming about, a kind of “instant hologram” film similar to what Polaroids did for the traditional photography field. I envisioned coupling such insta-hologram film with a computer to “print” holograms onto such a film that can later be read with a reader for write-once holographic data storage.
Today, InPhase Technologies published a press release (PDF) announcing that next week they intend to publically demonstrate “the world’s first prototype of a commercial holographic storage device”. Their claim is that “[the] family of InPhase Tapestry holographic drives will have capacities that range to 1.6 terabytes (TB) on a single disk.”
What I found funny were the following two quotes:
The prototype drive records data into InPhase’s patented two-chemistry Tapestry photopolymer write-once material.
From a system perspective, the device presents itself like a drive letter with complete random access, in less than 200 milliseconds, to any file on the holographic disk.
Essentially, the InPhase guys have built yet another WORM (write once, read many) optical drive. Yes, the 1.6 TB capacity is impressive, considering that the only recently has the new Blu-ray DVD-like format made it to market and the proposed dual-layer Blu-ray disks top out at ~50 GB. However, modern 52X CD-ROM drives have a random seek of ~90 milliseconds, significantly faster than the InPhase spec. for their drive. There’s also no mention on how fast or slow the write speeds are for InPhase’s drive, nor the read throughput, but the implication in the press release is that it might be fast enough to retrieve high-definition video data fast enough to broadcast directly from the media, which makes a lot of sense because of the data density of holographic data storage.
Overall, I’m really excited about this release because it means that within the next 5 years, holographic data storage could become the defacto standard replacing today’s traditional optical storage (CD, DVD) at a very reasonable price-point. I can’t wait!