New Storage Tech Enables Discs with 10,000x the Capacity of Blu-ray

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A research team in China has published their findings on “3D nanoscale optical disk memory,” a new type of storage technology that enables discs with up to a petabit of capacity—24 times the data of the most advanced hard disk drives that can be found today, according to coverage online, and 10,000 times more than the Blu-ray discs that are commonly used for today’s games and movies. The potential for “exabit-level storage” is teased in an abstract from the team, which mentions how the extended capacity is owed to a technique that enables “hundreds of layers.”

Units for reference:

  • 1,024 gigabytes: 1 terabyte
  • 1,024 terabytes: 1 petabit
  • 1,024 petabytes: 1 exabit

Blu-ray capacities:

  • 25 GB (single-layer)
  • 50, 66 GB (dual-layer)
  • 100, 128 GB (BDXL)

The researchers say:

  • “The ODS [optical data storage] has a capacity of up to 1.6 [petabits] for a DVD-sized disk area through the recording of 100 layers on both sides of our ultrathin single disk.”
  • “It will thus become possible to build an exabit-level data centre inside a room instead of a stadium-sized space by stacking 1,000 petabit-level nanoscale disks together…resulting in a large number of cost-effective exabit data centres.”
  • “Energy will only be needed when data is written onto or read from the disk, but not when storing data, thanks to the inherent properties of ODS.”
  • “The disks are also highly stable so there are no special storage requirements. The new disk is expected to last 50 to 100 years, unlike a hard disk drive which requires data to be moved to a new device every five to 10 years.”

As for the relevance of optical storage:

High-capacity storage technologies are needed to meet our ever-growing data demands. However, data centres based on major storage technologies such as semiconductor flash devices and hard disk drives have high energy burdens, high operation costs and short lifespans. Optical data storage (ODS) presents a promising solution for cost-effective long-term archival data storage.


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Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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