General Electric has announced a breakthrough in storage technology using micro-holographics to hold up to 500 gigabytes on a standard DVD. That capacity is equal to 100 DVDs or 20 single-layer Blu-ray Discs. The company has been working on the technology for over six years, and recently had a breakthrough in the readability of smaller holographic patterns.
The holographic discs are different from traditional discs in that they store information using the entire volume of the disc, not just the surface. And although the storage technology is different, GE says the optics used to read the discs are similar enough to allow holographic players to also read CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs.
GE says that when the technology hits the market in around 2-3 years holographic discs will offer storage at only 10 cents a gigabyte. Blu-ray discs are currently about 50 cents per gigabyte, about half the cost of when they were first introduced.
Brian Lawrence, who leads GE’s Holographic Storage program said, “The day when you can store your entire high definition movie collection on one disc and support high resolution formats like 3-D television is closer than you think.”
But how much will the micro-holographic players cost? If they can’t be built cheaply the technology just won’t hit the mainstream to offer any substantial market challenge to Blu-ray.
And then you have the question of downloadable HD being the biggest challenge to Blu-ray and disc formats in general. We’ve already seen it happen with music. Whether or not bandwidth supports the growth for larger amounts of data in the near or distant future it seems an inevitable evolution.