500GB storage breakthrough for optical disc format

27 Apr 2009

The compact disc has just become even more compact: General Electric has made a breakthrough with optical disc technology that will now allow for over 500GB of storage on one single disc.

This CD or DVD-sized micro-holographic disc has the storage equivalent of 100 CDs, 10 Blu-ray discs or an entire desktop hard drive (Just don’t get a scratch or there’s your entire movie collection down the tubes in one go!)

General Electric’s new holographic storage is completely different to current optical storage formats such as the DVD or Blu-ray disc; instead of storing data on the surface of the disc, it uses the entire depth of the physical disc to encode information.

As the name suggests the technology to store bits and bytes of information, which General Electric has been researching for the past six years, is represented holographically: in other words, in three dimensions.

However, this will not mean that the type of media players required to play these discs will render previous technologies obsolete. As the optical technology is sufficiently similar to CD and Blu-ray formats, the micro-holographic players will be backwards compatible with them too.

“GE’s breakthrough is a huge step toward bringing our next-generation holographic storage technology to the everyday consumer,” said Brian Lawrence, who leads GE’s Holographic Storage programme.

“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 such as 3D television is closer than you think.”

Pictured: Overlapping blue lasers recording holograms in a GE micro-holographic disc

By Marie Boran