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Prototype 150GByte Read-Only Disk Demonstrated 73

Generic Specialist writes "A fully working prototype of a 150GByte read-only disk has been demonstrated by C3D Inc. The clever part is their "Fluorescent Multilayer Disk" technology. Rather than having only one or two layers (as per CD-ROMs, DVD) these new disks have 10 layers, which can be read simultaneously giving data transfer rates exceeding 1 gigabyte per second. Now, if only they could produce a read-write version... "
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Prototype 150GByte Read-Only Disk Demonstrated

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  • Once long ago I read in Scientific American about people who were working on laser-controlled read/write 3D arrays which stored data using a photochemical called rhodopsin. Anyone know if this thing was shelved or in the works or what?
  • The next version of Office is probably going to be about this size.
    Actually, this would be a great way to avoid piracy. Make the distribution of the software about 150 Gig (Microsoft isn't too far from this already) and make it so it'll run directly off the read only media. That's the most assured form of copy protection there could be.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The mp3s you could put on that thing...
    10 DVD quality films...
    Every game released this year of any quality...
    1 days worth Win2000 bug reports...


    Nearly at the magical terabyte. Shame it isn't R/W, but it is only a matter of time.
  • Sounds alot like a holographic storage device. That would tend to make it rather hard to write data to it -- in any case, you'd never be able to write it as fast as you could read it.

    Did they bother to tell anyone how they plan to populate the thing with data?

    I remember an article about some "magnetic lens" technology a few years ago that boasted the same insane amounts of data storage -- it was R/W tho'.
  • I didn't know rhodopsin could be used in this way... Our eyes (or more specifically, our retinas) are loaded with the stuff.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Or another technology called Multi Pit Depth Technology. This looks to be much better though. MPDT was a variation on the CD-ROM where the laser "bounce" time was measured on a factor of 0-8 to get a byte (with parity) at a time. The problem was that these were expensive.

  • You joke but this is already being done. One of my games is distributed on CD-ROM containing allmost 700MB. It is impossible to copy (with my consumer CD-RW at least)
  • by Matt2000 ( 29624 ) on Monday October 04, 1999 @07:25AM (#1640188) Homepage
    In a related press release, Microsoft corp announced support for the emerging C3D data format:

    "Microsoft corp has been waiting for portable storage capacities to catch up with our dreams for the desktop. We have already developed a 74 GB talking paperclip that can help users with letter writing and swear in spanish.

    With current storage technologies we are severely limited in what we can do. A simple 28 MB singing elephant is not much good when it only knows one song."

    When asked whether Microsoft CEO Bill Gates' android brain will accept the new disc format, company officials said "We have no idea what you're talking about."

    They then smiled and winked before hiding under the table and claiming they were invisible. []
  • to clarify: It is not a game produced by me. (it's Descent III)..
  • Hmmm... 120mm is slightly less than 3.5"

    If I recall the math correctly, DVDs take up about 1 gig per hour of video(+audio), so it should be possible to store 130-140 hours of movies on a "standard" 3.5" disk.

  • You joke but this is already being done. One of my games is distributed on CD-ROM containing allmost 700MB. It is impossible to copy (with my consumer CD-RW at least)

    Are you sure you don't just need longer CD-R media. 80 minute (~703 MB) CD-R media exist, though according to the CD-R FAQ, [] they're more expensive.

    And longer CDs (if not CD-ROM) have been around a while. I have quite a few CDs that are over 74 minutes.

  • . . . how long before any of us can afford it! According to the website, there are a few models (including the credit card sized storage {-:) and the drive that they "will be developing in the next 12 months". Then of course, you need some time for the market to catch on before they start shipping software on it (look how many DVD-ROMS there are out there . . . but soon, they'll increase share and the CD-ROM will go the way of the floppy (which I still use)).

    Sigh. [gazing whistfully at the space where my RAID-5 array should be]
  • But of course! If your software contained massive singing elephants and talking paperclips, you'd NEED to be able to swear in as many different languages as possible. :)
  • IBM did this 5 years ago with multilayer DVD. Same principle applies here.
  • I got them beat with my 10 tera byte hyper-holographic disc device. Contains no moving parts and has near instantaneous write time. Oh...BTW it is a write only device. See /dev/null.
  • Who cares about 150 GB capacity; we'll have that in a few years.

    But I haven't heard *any* device manufacturer talking about speeds of 1 GByte/sec from a single device in any timeframe. Why not? Well, that's about 100x faster than today's hard disks (10 MB/sec is reasonable for most 7200 RPM disks, with some 10,000 RPMs getting up to 25 MB/sec peak performance.) And way faster today's optical media: a 40x CD-ROM is around 6 MB/sec peak, implying a 200x speed jump.

    Now I can see how 10 layers might get you a quick 10x jump in capacity, and you could squeeze out another 3x over today's 5 GB DVD solutions if you were careful. But I don't see how 10 layers translates into a 200x speedup.

    Neither PCI, SCSI, FC-AL, nor the IDE busses used for connecting disks to CPU/memory are built for 1 GByte/sec speeds, although Intel's future "System I/O" should handle it.

    The transfer rate is so high, I'm strongly tempted to not believe any of it. Note that absolutely no timeframe is attached to the availability of the technology, a suspicious sign at best.

    Doubtfully yours,
  • I'd bet that this technology gets BURIED. The SPA, the BSA, and the RIAA will no doubtedly oppose such high storage density devices. After all you could store EVERY M$ product ever made, The last 10 years Oscar Winners, The last 20 years Grammy Winners, and all of the pr0n on the net on such a device.

    Remember the rumors abour carberators (sp?) that can get your car 100+ Miles to the gallon? How about the pill that you put in your gas tank that when mixed with water will overnight ferment into a mixture that can be used as fuel.

    Let's not forget Tesla's wireless energy transmission technology. That was buried because JP Morgan didn't see a way to bilk the masses with it.

  • 120 mm = 4.72 inches. (1 inch = 25.4 mm)

    Deja Moo: The feeling that
  • Your maths is a little off...

    lazarus:~% dc
    2k 120 25.4 / p

    So basically, it's about the same size as a conventional CD/DVD.

  • Look at the picture in the article.

    It's just one of those "clear CDs" that come on the top (and sometimes bottom) of spindles. What a joke. :-)

    Actually, this would be really nice if/when it catches on. I can put all my pr0n on one CD-thing instead of my damn 3 towers of RAID5 that I have sitting next to my box. :-}

    And does this mean that this technology will involve some sort of UV light? If it's measuring fluorescence... I can see people having "black and white" parties with the new C-3D things sitting "read-side" up all over the place and looking really cool under the blacklights.

  • I've been expecting this for awhile since once you can add the 2nd wavelength optical data storage, its really a matter of time until you start superimposing more wavelengths.
    Sure, its cool to see this 150GB+ data medium but just how marketable is it? I'll admit I am drooling at the prospect of putting the entire collection of Dr. Who episodes on one, two, or even 7 (one for each Doctor?) digital disks that I can just pop in at any time.
    Cool, yes. But the powers that be won't see it that way. Why sell the 2 U(ber)VD collection for $30 when you can pop each episode off on tape/DVD for $24.95?
    I already see it happening, being the anime fan that I am. The first thought was that I could buy a DVD or 2-DVD set that contained all the Ranma 1/2 episodes for each season. Instead, the anime DVDs I do find (there are a few exceptions: Lodoss War, Babel 2, Iria) contain no more than what is on the tape...most of the time these tapes only have 30 minutes worth of stuff anyway.
    So, yeah, I was pretty appalled when I saw a DVD of Pokemon(I don't buy them..honest! Just checking how many episodes were on the DVD.) with a running time of 30 minutes! When they can hold 4 hours of stuff???

    I can see this with tapes, the quality degrades when going from sp to slp so instead of stretching out a whole 6-8 hours worth of stuff, only put on 2 hours of stuff. But DVDs are digital...its such a waste.
    I think I'd really freak out if I saw a media type with 10+ hour capability with a 30 minute show on it...

    Sorry for the rant...


  • (Sorry, I was a little too hasty/estimatory with the math: the speedup over 6 MB/s CD-ROMs should be 167x, not 200x. Of course, C3D is claiming rates "exceeding 1 GB/s", but I probably should have fixed my comment before posting.)


  • I can't see how this would be able to catch on if it were not backwards compatible. I only got into DVD because I didn't lose the ability to use CD's with it. It sounds like this tech may need several lasers to do that, even further driving up what looks to be an incredibly high cost. Writability isn't as big a deal ... for me, at least. I can't imagine I'd ever have to write that much data myself. I' have yet to even wish I could write to a DVD. This sounds like it may end up becoming a likely format for HDTV-quality movies ... a higher-end DVD. So what's this thing going to cost, anyway? About $2500?
  • Actualy IBM demonstrated a 1 Tb holographic cube a few years back, it had fantastic read times. I belive the only problem was the cost of manufacturing the substance it was made out of in mass quantities at a reasonable cost.
    James Michael Keller
  • Actually, this looks viable. It's a read-only format that I suspect would be much harder to burn than the current CD and DVD; the RIAA, etc. have always been especially fond of read-only formats, since that only makes their business easier. That's a lot of the reason that CD won out, first over DAT, and then minidisc.

    Since the makers of these devices would be limited to commercial entities until a public burner was developed, for someone to make a C3D with all the info you suggest on it would require licensing from all the parties involved - so even if someone did do it, it wouldn't be much cheaper than buying all of it individually. And the musicians, programmers, etc. still get all their money anyway.
  • I believe that it also would only work at near 0K temperatures...
  • Sure it is... why else do you think they can make them so cheaply? :)

    They really don't want people to know this because if we did, someone might figure out that they don't need to buy the $50 disks when they could just stick a piece of, say, good optical-quality Plexiglas into it.

    Information wants to be free... er, wait, that's not what they meant, er...

  • by Pascal Q. Porcupine ( 4467 ) on Monday October 04, 1999 @09:16AM (#1640213) Homepage
    Ultimate Tenchi Muyo is really good about actually using the DVD format properly. It has all 13 episodes of the original series on 2 DVDs, as well as a third disc which is an interactive encyclopedia with information on all the characters, settings, and governments, with lots of video clips and the like as well. However, it's definitely the exception, not the norm... I'm quite annoyed at how, for example, Macross Plus (assuming Viz Video ever sticks to their release dates - after September 28th came and went they quietly pushed it back to October 12th, a practice they've been doing every 2 weeks for many months now) has two 1-hour episodes on each of two DVDs. At least it's not like the VHS version where it's one 1-hour episode on each of 4 $30 tapes. Yuck.

    But yeah, all this storage space is more than any industry is willing to put out. I mean, with DVD audio, one could fit all of the Beatles' albums on one or two discs (depending on the bitrate), but nobody would want to sell all their albums in one package for $30, and nobody would want to pay $200 for a single disc.

    At least the South Park DVDs have 2 tapes' worth of episodes and cost proportionally the same as the VHS versions. (That is, the VHS versions hold 3 episodes and are $10-12, and the DVD versions hold 6 and are $20-24. How about that.) But Pokemon pisses me off, yeah... one episode on a DVD instead of one episode on a tape, and with likely worse quality (Pokemon isn't exactly the best-quality animation, and they probably encoded it at a hideously low bitrate) they charge quite a bit more since it's all yuppie and on DVD.
    "'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine.

  • Mmm...150 gigs, and able to read 1-gig per second?! I can imagine at-least-movie-quality video (could we hit as-good-as-being-there-resolution, or do we need terabytes for that?), incredible soundscapes, multiple languages & channels (can you imagine a movie where you could CHOOSE viewpoints attached to characters or physical locations)?

    Actually, with the ability to select viewpoints, it might make viewing movies at home even more pleasurable than going to the theater - and you'd have a justification for watching the same movie over and over, from different viewpoints! (I can't even imagine what kind of headaches this would cause for the movie production logistics though.)

    How much storage would you need for a full visual & aural virtual reality though?
  • My Starcraft CD has a 600+ meg install.exe that is mostly BS. I think they interspersed real data with junk to use up the rest of the CD.

    Why? Well I remember a lot of Warcraft CD images floating around my college and when Starcraft first came out (1.5 years...) CD-Rs were not as common.

  • If you look at the article they have at the bottom something about 30-40 mm disks that hold 10 or so gigs. Think of the possibilities of that. Software wouldn't be shipped on those big bulky CDs or DVDs, instead they'd go out on these little ~1.5 inch disks.

    After you take the disk out of the drive and put it down, you'd better remember where you put it.

    But these things can fit into your pocket which is one of the big things that came with the 3.5 inch disks. If you needed to go somewhere with a disk you put it in a shirt pocket and walked away.

    With the 30-40 mm disks you can carry hours and hours of music for your C3Dman and conviently change music when you're bored. Its such a pain to chain music in a discman when you're on a bus.

    Also hiding these little discs would be easy, slip it into your wallet or something and access all the files you have on it anywhere. Carrying around a CD-rom is inconvient unless you have a backpack.

    So 10 gigs isn't 150 gigs, but the small size is more convient, I think the smaller disks will catch on if this is pushed for convience then capacity.

    Anyways just my two cents.
  • The CDROM for Thief is a 5GB CDROM if you believe its file table.
  • My father is a digital audio Engineer, and he said that there have been attempts at this sort of ROM Drives before, but the firmwhere can never be written well enough to make the drive "stable". For this reason it has never gotton into prodution.
  • Dude, I'm *sure* my harddrive (brand X IDE) is faster at data read/write than my NIC card (100mbps, or 12.5 Megabytes/sec)

  • I suppose they would come in a pocket protector carrying cases to appeal to us geekoid /.ers
  • by jd ( 1658 )
    I know your post was intended as humerous, but come on, be realistic here! How on earth do you think you'd fit an entire day's worth of bug reports into 150 gigabytes? Compression technology isn't THAT good!
  • Maybe if each layer reacts to a different wavelength of light, you can write reliably to it.
    You should still be able to multiplex this. (Multiple reads/writes per "flash") This
    reminds me a lot of a solution for multi-gigabit networks using fiber. There would be multiple "channels" (wavelengths) on the fiber by sending a composite signal.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Each eye is effectively a 5000x5000 pixel device. Assuming you feed both eyes at 60 Hz, that's 3 Gigapixels/s. At 6 inches viewing distance, your eye can resolve about 300 dpi, so you need about 100Kb per square inch with no compression. That converts to a 100x100 ft environment for 150 Gb. With compression, tiling, etc. you should be able to get a large virtual reality playground at full resolution.
  • Their web site seems to indicate that one of the disk layers is made of glass. How much abuse can one of these take? Clearly their "credit-card sized" media are intended to be carried around in your pocket, but can such high densities withstand being flexed and sat on?

    But even if they can't, just seal one of these in a box and you still have a kick-ass hard drive (when R/W becomes available).
  • Backwards compatability is mostly just a matter of making the discs physically the same size. Lots of DVD players out there today have dual lasers in them, one for DVDs and the second for CDs. The single laser machines tend to be the ones which can't read CD-Rs

    By the time this hits the markets they might be able to forget about CD compatibility. They may have followed the 78rpm record into oblivion. :)
  • 100 mbps = 12.5 megabytes per second.
    PCI (standard 32-bit, 33 MHz) = 133 megabytes per second.

    100 Mbps LAN speeds are comparable to today's 7200 RPM disks. Depending on the usage scenario, one is a more relevant bottleneck than the other, depending largely on how much data and code is stored locally in one's LAN environment. A full analysis of which usage scenarios this tradeoff affects is left as an exercise for the reader...

  • They prolly won't make it out of glass, if they use glass in it, they could just as well use one of the many kinds of polycarbonates out there. Glass has a nasty tendency to scratch easily

  • Its not mostly BS.. Its mostly cinematics and sound files. They just put all the data into one file. When you install it, it extracts all the necessary game files, but the music and cinematics and most of the voices are kept on the CD. Why they chose to keep it all archived into one EXE file is beyond me, but I seriously doubt its padded with unused data.

  • I think you seriously underestimate the amount of prOn on the internet. At 5 gigs per movie, you can hold 30 movies. I take it you haven't watched the oscars ceremony recently if you think that there have only been 30 "winners" in the last 10 years.

    Rumors, depending on their source, are as credible as urban legends. There might be some slight truth to them, but the automotive industry is highly competitive. The automotive industry has NO concern about the mpg rating on their cars, they only respond to (in this order) 1-government regulations (which encourage fuel conservation), and 2- customer demands. If customers want 100mpg cars, they will get them. They might have to make other sacrifices tho, which may be why we don't have them today. I've heard NOTHING about this pill of yours.

  • Just a lame copy protection trick.. Copying raw data would effectively bypass it. Some cds also have several files that are much larger than the available space(thus theoretically overlapping each other) making it impossible to just copy onto hd.
  • It wasn't "Flamebait", that's for sure. But it's off-topic as is this post. Moderate me down!
  • ...As no company is going to press a 10GB mini-C3D for you full of MP3s/personal files/etc.

    Agreed that the 1.44 floppy is still the only pocketable standard even to this day, but look at the alternatives Zip/Jaz/LS120. It's not like the industry is trying already to up the size of readily transportable media.

    So my two cents is simply, tech like this is only for mass distribution, not storage.

  • It has to be writeable somehow, or it won't ever have data on it. It took a few years for cd writers to come out, but if this thing materializes, I would expect it to follow the same path. Faster, even, since we are now used to being able to burn CDs, and anything that came later would have to boast that ability real quick, or we'd stick with CDs.
  • You're correct, I should have said "Best Picture Oscar" winners.

    There's a good change that these rumors are just that and have no substance behind them. However the conspiracy theory says that the oil companies have kept these things buried.

  • alerdy done that kind of things in HDD industry years ago. It was too fragile to be useful that whey they drop it.
  • Well, I wouldn't bet on this. I mean, when NeXT first put the 600MB (?) MO drive into the NeXTcube, popular sentiment was that "there just isn't 600MB worth of data out there to put on such a huge disk." Eventually data seems to expand to fill the space it occupies.

    But since you mention mass distribution, I have a question. CD's are quick to mass produce because the pits can literally be pressed mechanically from a master. This new medium is multi-layered, and sounds like the data is stored not geometrically but chemically (I could be imagining this, though). So how do you mass-prouce them?

  • That 133Mbps has to be shared amongst all your PCI cards tho :/
  • Until you hit wierd uncopyable CDs...

    Seems a lot of games now are made with Macromedia's Safedisc technology and other similar devices, making it near-impossible to *backup*. You perform the copy, and unless you have a specific combination of Teac CD-ROM and Cd-burner, the CD is guarenteed to not work without some patches.


    BTW, the starcraft datafiles are stored in that install.exe file! Programs open the file and extract files based on some table of offsets probably stored somewhere in install.exe. (Files stored in other files aren't new. See doom's WADs, some installers just ahve one EXE file...)
  • Actually, I'm waiting for DVD-RW. It has a lot of potential, even if ou do have to flip the thing manually.
  • So how do you mass-prouce them?

    Excellent question! I imagined each layer would have to be manufacured individually, then pressed together, but that would involve some pretty serious alignment hardware. It costs about 2-20c to press CD's (dependant on volume) so I doubt this form of media will be going the way of the 8-track for some time now.

  • If you checked out the manufacturer's site, you might note that the c3d's are not read the same way as DVDs and CDs. Instead of reflecting light off the media, the flourescent markers are read simultaneously (10 layers - right away a tenfold increase in speed), but the method for reading must also be very different, which I suppose must result in an additional tenfold increase in speed. Really, I don't doubt this at all; it's well within the realm of possibility. As for the speed of the bus, well, I don't know what they are using to test this device, but it must be new, but also within the realm of possibility; however, I don't think that they made any claims to doing anything but accessing the data at 1G/sec. Their test systems were probably designed specifically for the C3D, which is why they are looking for companies to help them develop this stuff. They did say after all, that they want to ship the product in about 12 months ... obviously the hardware controllers, and prob. buses (and manufacturing of the media) is just not ready yet. But what do I know?
  • Check out the site and you'll see they are making the drives backwards comp.
  • We'd better wait for while, I've heard they're developing a 6 GigaQuad version storage device for backing up recursive backups.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN