Maxell focuses on holographic storage

Company says it will launch first removable drive, with a capacity of 300GB and a throughput of 160mbps, next year.

Information storage media company Maxell has said it will launch its first holographic storage products in September 2006. The first removable drive will have a capacity of 300GB and a throughput of 160mbps.

Holographic storage works by storing information using light-sensitive crystals. Because it uses the whole volume of the drive--whose prototype looks somewhat like a floppy disk--not just the surface, it's possible to store much more information than is possible on a DVD.

Maxell drive
Prototype for Maxell's
holygraphic removable drive

With a single holographic removable drive, or disk, able to store 1.6 million high-resolution color photos or more than 240 hours of TV broadcast, holographic storage is starting to draw the attention of many in the IT industry.

"Holographic media makes it possible for millions of pages of information and high-definition images to be held on one small, relatively inexpensive disk," said Steven Pofcher, senior marketing manager at Maxell.

"Imagine having a person's entire medical history, complete with MRI images, or storing a broadcast network's entire HD library on a single disk," Pofcher said. "These are both possible with holographic technology, which has such large capacity that approximately half a million 300-page books can be stored on a single disk."

Holographic recording technology uses intersecting signal and reference laser beams to store data in a number of 3D holographic images.

According to Maxell, one 13-centimeter optical disk can store up to 150 million pages--more than 63 times the capacity of a DVD.

Earlier this month, Turner Entertainment's vice president of broadcast technology, Ron Tarasoff, said his company is planning to sell holographic disks that will retail for $100 and which, in five years, will have a capacity of 1.6 terabytes each.

"That's pretty inexpensive," Tarasoff said. "Even the first versions can store 300GB per disk, and it has 160mbps data throughput rates. That's burning. Then combine it with random access, and it's the best of all worlds."

The technology also has an impressive lineage. Hitachi-owned Maxell is working with InPhase Technologies, a subsidiary of Lucent Technologies, which has led development of holographic media.

Colin Barker of ZDNet UK reported from London.