Format War: Is there a storage showdown on the horizon?

Format War: Is there a storage showdown on the horizon?

Will GE Vs. Samsung be the next big battle?

War is always a dirty thing. Loyalties are tested, relationships strained and when one side is finally defeated, there’s plenty of blood in the water.

Such was the case when the Blu-ray Vs. HD DVD war heated up between Sony and Toshiba. Distributors, resellers and consumers all picked their sides on the battle line thinking it was the war to end all wars – uncertainty filled the air.

But just one year after Sony’s Blu-ray was crowned the next-gen king, two more formats with major commercial backing promise to throw the storage and consumer electronics markets back into disarray.

In the red corner is GE with its breakthrough micro-holographic tech. Launched amid a media frenzy in late April and offering 500GB to 1TB on a DVD-sized disc, GE gave itself a big pat on the scientific back and told the world to expect commercial drives and discs by 2012.

Just when you thought it was safe to plan for this next generation, however, Samsung and the Swinburne University of Technology in Victoria released a ground-breaking innovation that uses gold nanorods, fifth dimensions and a lot of techno mumbo jumbo to offer between 1.6TB to 10TB of data on a single DVD-sized disc.

This isn’t the first time next-next-gen formats have promised the world. US-based company, Call/Recall, offered 1TB per disc by using a 2-photon recording process and InPhase Technologies promised up to 1.6TB of data per disc by 2007.

But both of these ventures have faced hurdles and delays without the funding needed to commercialise their concepts – a problem that neither GE nor Samsung face.

While details on the signed agreement deal between the Swinburne University team and Samsung are not being released to the public, an early media release from the university said that the researchers are, “confident the discs will be commercially available within 5-10 years”.

With GE predicting boots on the ground from 2012 onwards and Samsung looking to start selling from 2014, GE looks like it will have the advantage of early market share.

To commercial and enterprise users looking to store an increasingly large amount of data, however, 10TB discs that have the capacity of 2000 DVDs are incredibly attractive – and possibly worth the wait.

So pack your survival gear and get in the basement, because the next-next-gen format war might be just around the corner – and war is always a dirty thing.

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