Optware seeks U.S. vendors to adopt holographic storage

Optware seeks U.S. vendors to adopt holographic storage

Japan's Optware Thursday announced a detailed roadmap toward commercialization of its Holographic Versatile Disc technology. It has also set up an alliance to promote HVD and will later this year set up an office in the U.S. to promote the technology with major systems integrators there, it said.

As with CDs and DVDs, HVD technology involves the use of a laser to store information on 12-centimeter discs. However, instead of recording data in dots on the disc, beams of light interfere with each other, forming patterns within the HVD disc. InPhase Technologies, of Longmont, Colo., is also trying to bring holographic storage drives to market.

Optware claims the technology enables the storage of up to 3.9T bytes of information on a single disc. (One terabyte is one thousand gigabytes.) The company is initially commercializing 200G-byte recordable and 100G-byte read-only discs, it said.

To promote these to U.S. systems integrators, the company plans to establish an office in the U.S. later this year, the location of which is not finalized, Optware President and CEO Yoshio Aoki said at a news conference.

"EMC, StorGate, IBM, HP, Sun Micro - these customers are really interested in working samples. We need a U.S. operation," he said.

Data archiving for the U.S. healthcare industry is a first potential market, he said. Optware believes the amount of digital data storage demand for this market will grow from about 167 petabytes (167 million gigabytes) in 2005 to 363 petabytes in 2007 as hospitals archive increasingly large data files such as digital X-rays and CAT scans, and make increasing use of video images, he said.

"We are also going to start talking to the medical industry, but we are not sure who yet. That's why I am flying to the U.S. next week to find out," Aoki said.

This year and into next year, the company will be preparing to submit three HVD storage media to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The 200G-byte disc and a 30G-byte credit card-sized storage format should be approved by the ISO by the end of December 2006, while the 100G-byte read-only disc should be approved in June 2007, Aoki said.

It usually takes between one and three years for the ISO to approve technical standards, he said. To speed up ISO approval, the company is working with Ecma International, an organization that specializes in fast-tracking new technology standards. Ecma formed a committee to draft the three HVD technical standards last December, he said.

Samples of the 200G-byte discs and prototype players will be available in the last quarter of this year, in time for commercialization in 2007, according to Optware.

InPhase, meanwhile, has said it hopes to bring its first holographic drives to market in 2006. Researchers at IBM's Almaden Research Center are also developing holographic storage devices.

Optware has set up a consortium called the HVD Alliance to promote its technology, it announced Thursday. The consortium has six members: CMC Magnetics, Fuji Photo Film, Nippon Paint, Optware, Pulstec Industrial and Toagosei. Of these, CMC, Fuji, Pulstec and Toagosei are Optware shareholders.

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