Holographic media set to debut

Polight Technologies, a spin off from Cambridge University, is developing a new inorganic glassy material called ‘Holonide’ that can be used for holographic data storage.

The result of 5 years’ primary research carried out at the University of Cambridge under the direction of Professor Stephen Elliott, the ‘Holonide’ material has the potential to store up to 4TBytes of data on a 120mm (CD-sized) disc.

Polight is currently working in conjunction with a drive partner to commercialise the technology which will take the form of a removable 500GByte holographic 120mm disc with read and write speeds of up to 750MByte/sec. The new media will make its debut by the end of 2003.

Polight claims that holographic data storage has distinct advantages over conventional magnetic and optical media: Data is stored as ‘pages’ of up to 1MBytes per page, in contrast to conventional media in which data is stored in units of 1 bit. This dramatically increases the read and write speeds. Secondly, holographic systems use content addressable memory technology, enabling substantially higher database search speeds than currently possible.

The Holodisc will be targeted at the corporate archival, broadcast media and content distribution markets, currently serviced by high capacity tape drives as well as recordable DVD and other optical drives.

The initial market for Polight’s holographic media is projected to be over $1bn by the end of 2005.

Polight, of course, are not alone. MA-based Aprilis, a company that commenced operations in June 1999, was also established to commercialise holographic data storage technology – in this case, licensed from Polaroid Corporation.

In January this year, the company demonstrated its photopolymer media in a high transfer rate holographic disk digital storage system developed by Stanford University and Siros Technologies. A 6 Gbit/sec sustained optical readout transfer rate was achieved, as well as optical writing data rates approaching 1 Gbit/sec.

Also in the holographic spotlight is Inphase Technologies, a company that demonstrated a holographic video recording system at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas between April 8-10 this year.

Based on more than eight years of research and development, conducted mostly at Bell Labs, the Inphase system, dubbed Tapestry, is targeted at professional video applications – including editing, digital video effects, and both near-line and archival storage.

The Tapestry system includes both drive and media products developed by InPhase that the company plans to license to other key industry partners.

The initial Tapestry write-once product will be capable of recording 100 Gbytes of video, and sport a transfer rate of 20 MBytes/sec).

Like Polight, InPhase is also targeting product delivery in limited volume by the end of 2003, with volume shipments targeted for 2004.