Tuesday, September 2, 2008

When Enough Easily Exhausts

I can still remember the time my computer had 32 MB of memory and 64 MB of hard disk storage space and I was happy. Later, I had 128 MB of RAM and 4 Gigagabytes of storage space and I was happy until another higher storage came.

Today’s information technology is growing at a pace we can hardly keep up. Now that I have gazillions of all kinds of video and music files, software installers, digital photos and other digital whatnots, I feel like 160 Gigabytes of hard disk is not enough. And I am talking here about personal use storage!

I read on some computer magazine that a new development in storage technology will go on sale in the next couple of weeks. It is called holographic storage. This kind of storage will potentially have the capacity to store hundreds of times more data than ordinary CDs or even DVDs.

And then I thought – will this require a new kind of drive like we had floppy disk drive or CD-ROM drive? And then I got a flat answer – YES, because the holographic storage works very differently from tradition discs.

Unlike CDs and DVDs where data is stored on their surface or in some layers beneath the surface, the holographic storage works like…a holograph! The data is stored in different dimensions within the disc’s volume allowing it to store up to a whooping 300 gigabytes of digital data.

Remember those holographic cards we used to play as kids where person seem to protrude from the background and change perspective depending on the angle that the card is held like real 3D scenario? This is very similar to holographic storage where data are stored in “pages” at different angles. Each page may consists of millions of tiny grid-like patterns and when a laser beam projects its light on these patterns, then the codes can be formed and interpreted by the computer.

A company called In-Phase Technologies reportedly will launch the first holographic disc drive this summer called Tapestry 9000. The holographic disc drive will cost $18,000 while the 300 gigabyte holographic cartridge will each cost $180. This combination will promise to be work much faster than the ordinary DVDs because the cartridge-based discs are stationary as data are written at 350 different angles. Another factor that adds speed is that data are not written and read bit by bit but by batch.

I think this is a good development. With everything else analog like music and even television shows going digital, these massive storage space are really good news. But the problem is the price. With $18,000, I can already buy an assortment of other digital gadgets like high end cameras and video cam recorders.

For now, I try hard to be content with my reliable 160 Gig hard drive. Should this fill up, I can easily get a new one at $100. I am very certain that holographic storage will dramatically decrease in price once it becomes very common. Can you believe that my friend paid $500 when the first CD-writer came out?

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