Holographic storage is it the future of storage? The Economist has an article on it this week that is worth reading.

Computing: After years of development, holographic data-storage systems are finally ready to go on sale

Gillian Blease

THE digital age has turned people and companies into data hoarders. Home computers bulge with music tracks, photographs, videos and e-mails; and government regulations and industry trends mean that companies, financial institutions and medical organisations are piling up information on an unprecedented scale. For really large amounts of data, storage capacity is no longer measured in gigabytes, terabytes or petabytes, but rather by the size of the warehouses needed for the discs, cartridges or tapes that carry them.

But a new storage technology, which will go on sale in the next few weeks after years of development, can squeeze more onto a small disc or cartridge than ever before. With the potential to store hundreds of times more data on a disc than today’s DVDs or even the latest high-capacity Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs, holographic storage is about to hit the market.

Just an illusion?

Mr Krishna maintains, however, that the “killer application” for the technology is nevertheless in mass storage for the corporate market. Quite apart from the fact that it takes years for consumer-electronics companies to agree and adopt new standards, there is simply more money to be made from selling to businesses, he says. Tellingly, as well as pushing the HVD format, Optware is also developing a holographic-storage system for corporate use that stores information on rectangular cards rather than discs.

But despite plans to launch products in early 2006, Optware has yet to produce anything. And some observers remain doubtful that holographic storage will be commercially viable any time soon. IBM, once a leader in the field, has decided to concentrate on improving existing magnetic-tape systems instead, says Matthias Kaiserswerth, director of IBM’s Zurich Research Laboratory in Switzerland. InPhase’s first drive will cost $18,000, and each 300-gigabyte cartridge will cost a further $180. Holographic-storage technology certainly works and has all kinds of potential uses. But until the prices come down, demand for this unusual new technology could be all too holographic in nature: apparently there, but upon closer inspection proving to be only a mirage.

I certainly would like to investigate the InPhase technology for some of our Fortune 100 customers.

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