Digital versatile dinosaur?

Imagine having your whole CD collection on a 120mm disk. Data storage expert Constellation 3D claims to have developed and demonstrated a data storage system that will enable you to do just that, a development that may sound a death knell for DVD.

The company has recently announced a Letter of Intent on forming an alliance with Ricoh Image Communication for the further development of its recordable fluorescent multi-layer discs (FMD) and FMD WORM (Write Once Read Many) drives.

A dual-layered, double-sided DVD can store 17GB of data. Constellation’s FMD-ROM – which has 10 layers per side – stores 140GB on one side. This means that it could store up to 20 hours of HDTV (MPEG-2 compressed film) or uncompressed video with huge improvements in audio-visual quality.

The new standard uses fluorescent material embedded in the pits and grooves of all 20 data layers to encode information. When in contact with a laser, the fluorescent materials are stimulated to produce coherent and incoherent light and data is stored in the incoherent light.

Because the technology isn’t based on reflection, multiple layers are read at the same time. This means that transfer rates could be as high as 1GB per second.

The company adds that with minor re-tooling, FMD-ROM discs will be compatible with existing CD-ROM and DVD-ROM drives.

Constellation is attempting to allay the fears of manufacturers by developing processes and equipment for mass production of the discs and drives, and claims that the manufacturing process will in fact be simplified as there will be no need to deposit reflective materials.

Other planned projects include a rewritable 30mm, 10 layer disk, a credit card sized device that will store 10GB, and disks with capacities exceeding 1TB (1000GB).

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