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Sony Technology

Sony & Panasonic Next-Gen Optical Discs Moving Forward 250

jones_supa writes "From last summer you might remember the Sony & Panasonic plans to bring next generation optical discs with recording capacity of at least 300GB. Various next-gen optical discs from different companies have been proposed, but this joint effort seems to be still moving forward. The disc is called simply Archival Disc and, roadmap and key specifications are out. First-wave ADs are slated to launch in summer of 2015 and will be able to hold up to 300GB of data. Archival Discs will be double-sided, so this works out to 150GB of data per side. Future versions of the technology will improve storage density, increasing to 500GB (or 250GB per side) and 1TB (500GB per side) as the standard matures."
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Sony & Panasonic Next-Gen Optical Discs Moving Forward

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  • by BlazingATrail ( 3112385 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @03:32PM (#46448373)
    whats a disc? I thought our souls were already uploaded to iCloud and Netflix ?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Bandwidth isn't cheap in some areas...

      • "Bandwidth isn't cheap in some areas..."

        It wouldn't matter if it was. Time after time, we have seen problems arise... not because of "online technology", but because of human failure. Failure of the people you're supposed to trust at "the other end".

        PEOPLE at these organizations have repeatedly failed in areas of organizational ability, reliability, and trustworthiness.

        Unless and until we have the technology that can replace human trustworthiness (or lack thereof), "cloud" storage will not be ready for prime time. Even if you make it snoop-

      • by boristdog ( 133725 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @06:02PM (#46450169)

        I live twenty minutes from a high tech city. A city that even hosts a world-reknowned "interactive" conference (along with a movie and music conference) around this time of year.

        The best uncapped bandwidth I can get? About 1.2 Mbps. And it's wireless with intermittent drops in coverage.
        The best capped bandwidth I can get? About 9 Mbps, but I'm limited to 12GB/month.

        Hundreds of thousands of people live near this same city with similar or worse bandwidth availability. Unless I spend hundreds of thousands of dollars or more to start my own ISP and run some fiber for me and my neighbors, that's what we're stuck with.

      • Why is a disk superior to tape? Tape is
        * Cheap (dont think anything comes close in $ / GB)
        * Fast (sequential speeds ~ 150MB/s)
        * durable (no need to worry about scratches, no dies to degrade)
        * Already has enterprise infrastructure at most places-- autoloaders are not exactly rare

        Id actually be astonished if you could get GB / Volume close for these disks. We're coming out with 3TB native / 5+TB compressed LTO tapes soon, so youd need ~15 of these archival disks to match them

    • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @03:43PM (#46448525) Journal

      Ten years ago, I had a pretty large DVD collection. I still do, I guess, though it's archived in big folders now rather than the original cases, for space reasons. I was in no way unusual in that; almost everybody else I knew at the time had a DVD collection.

      Today, I actually have a relatively large blu-ray collection. But nobody else I know does. In my case, I have the large blu-ray collection because I watch a lot of anime and support for that on streaming services is patchy (Crunchyroll isn't bad, but older shows do vanish from it with no notice sometimes). But if I wasn't interested in niche stuff, there'd be no practical (as opposed to philosophical) reason to continue to collect physical media.

      With a large collection of the movie-buying public having looked at blu-ray and gone "meh", I think the challenge of trying to movies to a new generation of optical media is probably insurmountable.

      And the other uses of optical media?

      The newly launched games consoles have blu-ray drives - but I suspect they're the last generation to support optical discs. More and more sales are shifting online and that proportion will only grow as broadband speeds improve. Even for online-only refuseniks, Vita-style memory-card distribution may prove more convenient in the long run. I honestly cannot remember the last PC game I bought via a physical copy. Probably the Wrath of the Lich King expansion for World of Warcraft - because I guessed that Blizzard's download servers would die on launch day.

      And for data archival? My experience of writable CDs, DVDs and BDs is that they're time-consuming to write to, physically fragile, space-inefficient and unreliable over time. If I want a local backup these days, I pick up an HDD, fill it up and then store it away.

      So yeah, this all feels a bit like nugatory effort...

      • But, while broadband speeds increase, broadband penetration may not (probably won't).

        So, I have a feeling that Netflix, Gamefly, etc. will still ship physical disks... and console games will too.

        I also think that instead of changing standards to increase data density, or using any extra density a new format brings, we'll see things that are more about control (DRM)

      • Funny that in a civilization where it's all about having more and more stuff, more and more people have no issues about having their stuff ephemeral or dematerialized.

        I'm gonna go build myself a real stone castle and fill it with antique furniture. When you won't be able to get your pictures off Facebook because your bandwidth is capped at 20Mb except for ComcastView and GooglePlusPlus, I'll have my local storage out of reach of marketers and spooks, and they won't remotely disable my books.

        • You know the 80s are over right?

          Online content has much value. Is it miss used? Maybe a little but I can tell you it makes my life easier.

      • But if I wasn't interested in niche stuff, there'd be no practical (as opposed to philosophical) reason to continue to collect physical media.

        I'm the complete opposite. I have some digital stuff but otherwise I continue to collect physical media whenever I can because I'll always have access to it and some big company won't be able to pull the licensing agreement and suddenly the movie/show/game is gone from my collection on Amazon or something because the big company wants more money from Amazon for their 20 year old movie.

        When it comes to physical media the first sale doctrine is king so in addition to the already mentioned benefits of always h

        • Right hows your VHS collection going then? VHS tapes were still sold often only 10 years ago.

          The problem is never if you have the 8mm, 8-track, vinyl, cassette, minidisk, etc.
          The problem is if you still have a functioning player for such thing.

          There are original Wax cylinders created by Thomas Edison. There wasn't a player for them for 80 years. until someone custom made one at great expense.

          digital copy only means you at least get to keep a functioning player as well. By using smart backups and doing s

      • There is some usage of disks (be they CD, DVD, or Blu-Ray) in WORM archives.

        A previous place I worked at provided an online service for medical data that was supported by a huge, custom built DVD "jukebox"
        At some point in the last decade the economics of large hard disk arrays rendered this technology effectively obsolete.

        If the dollar per GB economics of these disks were attractive enough, they could, potentially, make a comeback in applications that are willing to put up with the latency of mechanica
    • I have really fast broadband over cable, so I signed up for the online backup service Crashplan so I would have an offsite copy of all my data. I ran into two killer problems: notwithstanding my blistering upload capacity, the backup service still plods along at 500kb or less, meaning that my 1T archive disk will take about six months to backup. The cherry on top is that my ISP imposes a usage cap, which prevents me from taking advantage of even that speed. If optical discs of 300G or more become available,

      • You bring up another problem. Bandwidth.

        What good does it do to have 1TB optical disks, if the write speed is only 350kB/sec? It would take more than a month of steady writing to fill up a disk.

        It will probably be faster than that, but who knows? I checked TFA, and it says absolutely nothing about bandwidth, either read or write.
  • Amazing! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    More proprietary garbage. Everyone knows they'll try to do the same thing they do with everything else: Infest everything with DRM and secrets to stop 'pirates.'

    • If it stays just archival storage, something that is desperately needed, then there is no need for DRM, and no barriers to adoption. If they try and make it a video standard and bring content producers on-board, they are doomed. But if not, they stand to make a LOT of money as we are desperately in need of a replacement for tape.
      • Re:Amazing! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by slaker ( 53818 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @04:05PM (#46448813)

        The replacement for tape is different tape. Optical media isn't going to catch up to the data densities or transfer rates that tape has to offer any time soon. The (kinda old) LTO4 changer I use for my personal stuff handles 800GB/tape and only needs about three hours per tape. This new disc format isn't even going to be competitive with an eight year old tape spec.

        • by suutar ( 1860506 )

          I've thought about going tape for local backup, but I never felt comfortable with it, because I have the impression that the lifespan of tape is poor. What's your experience in tape lifespan (which I suppose also involves how often/whether you rewrite instead of getting a new tape)?

          (Currenly local backup for most of my stuff is "put it on the file server", where it's mirrored, which is of course not perfect. But the file server is also backed up offsite through CrashPlan.)

          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            LTO lasts 15+ years (and if you can afford the drive, chances are you won't need to re-use tape too often). Cheap tape was always bad.

            However, it's vital to verify tapes as you write them. Non-cheap tape doesn't really "go bad", but can be bad when created (even though the tape drives verify in hardware, I've seen issues). You don't need to verify the whole tape, just verify something on the tape, ideally with a different drive.

        • The replacement for tape is different tape. Optical media isn't going to catch up to the data densities or transfer rates that tape has to offer any time soon. The (kinda old) LTO4 changer I use for my personal stuff handles 800GB/tape and only needs about three hours per tape. This new disc format isn't even going to be competitive with an eight year old tape spec.

          Tape may be faster to write for now, (They never said the speed...) a single file restore will not be. Especially if it is towards the end of the tape. THis has alwayse been the limiting factor of tape.

          • by rk ( 6314 )

            QFA has mitigated this problem for quite some time now. Simplistically, an index is built identifying files and their relative positions on the tape. The tape is loaded and then fast forwarded to that location to restore it. I had a 4-tape capacity "mini-library" nearly 15 years ago that could do this. A small single file could be restored in a minute or two.

          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            First copy is to spare HDD (kept in a box). Tapes are the "just in case". It's just much easier to store tape off-site: mail to a friend, stuff in storage or safe deposit, whatever.

            Tape drives are quite expensive, but if you can afford them they rock. If I had the bandwidth, I'd use glacier or whatnot, but since I have DSL I'm saving for tape.

          • Tape may be faster to write for now, (They never said the speed...) a single file restore will not be. Especially if it is towards the end of the tape

            With archival formats that really doesnt matter, and generally youre not restoring half of a backup.

            If you want really good access speed AND high density you go HDD.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

          Tape isn't really a good option for consumers who are used to accessing media directly. You will find tape is a hard sell for most people. Also tapes are not actually that robust, they can stretch and warp or get mangled if you do a lot of seeking and stop/start.

          Even for us nerds it could be a better option if the media is cheap and it is well supported going forwards. Modern BD drives can read the 32 year old Compact Disc format perfectly, tapes not so much.

      • If it stays just archival storage, something that is desperately needed....

        This is too little, too late.

        Anything that requires me to be physically present to swap media during a backup isn't even up for consideration.

        300Gb of data per disc means I'd have to swap discs a dozen times to back up my current pile of data data. Not happening.

        By the time it reaches 1Tb per disk I'll have even more data to back up. Half a dozen swaps? Still not happening. I want to set the backup going then go to bed while it does its thing.

        • by donaldm ( 919619 )

          300Gb of data per disc means I'd have to swap discs a dozen times to back up my current pile of data data. Not happening.

          Why would you use 300GB disks to backup your data? The reason to use CD's, DVD's or BD's and now this proposed media is to archive specific data that you require access at a latter date. As long as the disk has a device that can read it then your archived data can be read unless the disk is damaged so any archived media needs to be preserved (minimum of two copies) and checked periodically.

          It must be noted that there is huge difference between a "backup" and an "archive". If you only use HDD's to "backup"

    • Can you clarify what you mean by "proprietary"?

  • 500gigs of it now.

    • I'm thinking the movie you want to see is encrypted and buried in such a sea of garbage that it becomes impractical to extract it without the master key....

      • by suutar ( 1860506 )
        No worries. Get the master key, decrypt it, extract the parts you want. Isn't that how they handle blurays now?
  • by 0xG ( 712423 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @03:39PM (#46448481)
    Bitrot is the enemy, especially when you call it "Archival".
    • by mcrbids ( 148650 )

      Not only that, but the size advantage of optical media is simply gone.

      When CDs first came out, they easily held several times the capacity of a standard HDD. DVDs were much the same way. Then, a few decades go by, and little changes. BlueRay holds much less than a stock HDD, and was that way when it finally won the format wars.

      Now, they have a format that doesn't even come close to a stock HD. (My laptop has a 250 GB SSD, my desktop computer has twin 2 TB drives) This new format would just *barely* cover my

    • Hopefully they will be using something similar to the M-Disc [] technology to make this archival format more reliable. Organic dyes don't seem to have quite enough staying power (though I just went through some 10-15 year old CD-Rs the other day and they were still readable).

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      These will not be like CD-R or DVD-R, they will be more like BD-R I expect. BD-R writers melt a layer of plastic and magnetically re-align reflective particles in it. There is no chemical process like the older discs and as such they are much less prone to bit-rot. They are essentially magneto-optical, and time has proven how robust and long lived MO formats are.

      Actually there are two types of BD-R discs, the newer type being more like the old CD/DVD writable formats and thus not suitable for archival. A go

  • by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @03:42PM (#46448521)
    People hate flippers, and if you 'double-side' the drives to avoid that, you'll be about doubling their costs, and that's not popular either.
    • "People hate flippers"

      That's simply not true []!

    • by tedgyz ( 515156 )

      That reminds me of a Kenwood CD drive [] I bought for my computer. It used a multi-beam technology called TrueX to parellelize reading. It cost more than most readers at the time, but only about 20% more. The technology worked well if you were ripping the whole disc.

      • I saw these at the time, and wondered if they actually did show speed improvements for a long sequential read. Since CD tracks are laid out in a spiral, wouldn't you only read 7 new tracks at a time for the first revolution, then each track would be re-read 6 times?

        • by tedgyz ( 515156 )

          I don't recall all the details. You can read the linked article for insight. I see your point about the spiral, so now I too am wondering exactly how it worked. The bottom line is it was faster, but not 7x faster. It was a good idea at the time since CD rotational speeds had been maxxed out.

    • This. Every optical standard has had a double-sided variety, and every time it has failed to be adopted. The closest they got was with DVDs where there were different films or different aspect ratios on the two sides (so you still would never flip).

      Also, the jump in capacity here just seems to be a plateau from previous optical technology:

      0.6 GB => 9.4 GB => 50GB => 150GB

      We were supposed to have 150GB/side blu-rays, for crying out loud (whatever happened to 5-layer discs anyway?).

  • Will there be a rewritable variant? (Skimmed the article linked to and I didn't see it mentioned.)

    While I realize people mostly picked on this, I like(d) using DVD-RW and DVD-RAM for video archiving. Yeah, now I mostly just download (non-copy-protected) things to a computer, but it was much handier having it built into the recorder.

  • I sure hope so. Or at least the iPad.

  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Monday March 10, 2014 @04:23PM (#46448999) Journal
    I see two possible uses for this.

    First, taking the name as indicative of the intended purpose, for backups. In that regard, I consider these DOA, since anyone who can fit their entire life in 300GB can use the cloud easily enough, and those of us who rip everthing we own to a home file server would already require literally dozens of these to store a complete backup. Sorry, boys, but even Grandma has a 2TB drive these days (whether or not she's used more than 2% of it).

    Second, and more likely - 4k video. I don't really know where I stand on that one, because on the one hand, even BluRay has more or less flopped (it has made good ground in "replacing" DVDs, but for the most part people won't pay more for BD content); on the other hand, 4k finally represents a serious increase in quality over 480p. I still don't know if people would pay more for it, but having seen a few examples of 4k content on a 4k monitor... Just wow.

    Still, if the blanks don't cost $5 each and if the DRM doesn't make these virtually worthless for anything but playing in a standalone player, I suppose these count as a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, with Sony involved, we can pretty much take it as given that they'll blow both those constraints without hesitation.
    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      anyone who can fit their entire life in 300GB can use the cloud easily enough

      How so? iCloud only goes up to 55 GB, and that tier costs $100 per year. Besides, with ISPs capping uploads and downloads per month, some rawther severely (5 GB/mo for LTE or 10 GB/mo for satellite), it can take several months to get data in and out of the cloud.

  • They don't mention the materials used for fabrication, so the "archival" claim is not supported.

    More importantly, a disk-based storage medium is not likely to be useful as "archival" due to both format rot, and the inevitable loss of accessibility as the market moves to other devices. Can you read your MO or Bernoulli disks today?

    This (US Patent 8,085,304) [] is a truly archival technology. One that a naive user with a flatbed scanner and computer could find and read. Say, for example a government in 30
  • Reminds me of zip drives... hey - we've got a new 750MB model! By that time the market had already moved on to CDs and USB flash drives.

    Pretty much all of my audio, pictures, and video lives on my NAS. It almost seems quaint when I have to fire up the DVD player.
  • Double sided? Only 150gb at the moment, at best 500gb?
    Nope and nope, it's not going to catch on, you can buy a portable 1TB HDD now for $65

    If they can do single sided, 1TB, at least 50MB/s and blank discs under $15 a pop? You've got some small potential to maybe oust DVD / BR - otherwise, forget it. It's unlikely to catch on even then though.

  • With the exception of some "write-once, read-only" backup schemes, this will fail at the $300/disk level.

    Meanwhile, go google "1TB USB Flash" and see the $1200 USB flash drives. These will cost a lot less ($100 each in two years I bet) in a few years, just in time for the first of these already-failed optical disks. Plus you don't need anything special to use a USB flash drive...

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson