04.29.2009 12:00 PM
TVB Tech Alert: GE Bows 500 GB Optical Disc

GENISKAYUNA, N.Y.: Scientists at General Electric have come up optical disc technology that far exceeds the current maximum storage capacity of the medium. Global Research, the technology development arm of the GE, said researchers successfully demonstrated “a threshold micro-holographic storage material that can support 500 GB of storage capacity in a standard DVD-size disc.” A single disc is said to be able to store the same amount of data as about 20 single-layer Blu-ray discs, 100 DVDs or one hefty computer hard drive. GE said the discs will be able to be read and record on systems very similar to Blu-ray or DVD players.

Holographic storage differs from DVD and Blu-ray in that those two store information only on the surface, where holographic technology uses the “entire volume of the disc material,” GE said. Data is written in three-dimensional patterns into the medium. GE said researchers were able to record “micro-holographic marks approaching 1 percent reflectivity with a diameter of approximately 1 micron.” The configuration yields more than 500 GB of storage using standard DVD or Blu-ray disc optics, the company said.

“GE’s breakthrough is a huge step toward bringing our next generation holographic storage technology to the everyday consumer,” said Brian Lawrence, leader of GE’s Holographic Storage program. “Because GE’s micro-holographic discs could essentially be read and played using similar optics to those found in standard Blu-ray players, our technology will pave the way for cost-effective, robust and reliable holographic drives that could be in every home. The day when you can store your entire high-definition movie collection on one disc and support high resolution formats like 3D television is closer than you think.”

The technology also has implications for Sony’s optical-disc line of acquisition gear, used by GE-owned NBC at the Beijing Olympics.

GE said it’s been working on the technology fore more than six years, and 500 GB represents a storage milestone that may lead to storage of up to a terabyte of data.

“GE’s holographic storage program has turned the corner, and with this milestone we can now intensify our efforts in commercialization opportunities,” said Bill Kernick, who leads GE’s Technology Ventures team. “We’ll continue to engage with a variety of strategic partners to create the best route from product development to introduction into the marketplace.”

GE initially will focus on the commercial archival industry followed by the consumer market for its micro-holographic storage technology.

(Image from Business Wire provided by GE: Overlapping blue lasers recording holograms in a GE micro-holographic disc.

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