TDK Researchers Develop 1TB Storage Disc

By · Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

TDK 1TB Optical DiscIn the United States, technology companies often roll out their latest and greatest innovations at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in January. In Japan, new cutting-edge products and ideas are introduced at the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies, also known as CEATEC.

This year’s CEATEC show featured a surprising announcement from TDK, a manufacturer of blank recordable CD/DVD discs. Their researchers have announced an experimental new type of optical disc that holds a staggering 1 terabyte of storage! Yes, you read that correctly: 1,024 gigabytes of storage on a single disc.

This is significantly larger than a standard DVD which holds 4.7GB or 8.5 GB in dual-layer form. A regular Blu-ray disc holds 25GB of space or 50GB if the disc is dual-layer compatible. Even the 100GB Blu-ray XL discs I blogged about earlier this year pale in comparison to these new storage giants!

So what’s the secret behind this spacious disc? As it turns out, researchers looked at existing methods of data storage and took them to new extremes. For example, adding a second data layer to a DVD or Blu-ray disc is one way to add more capacity to a disc.

Using this approach, TDK was able to engineer a disc with 16 layers of data storage. Each one of the layers holds 32GB of data, which is larger than a blank Blu-ray disc. Then, they made the disc double-sided for a total of thirty-two 32GB layers. This results in a total storage capacity of 1,024GB or 1TB.

If these one-terabyte discs could be produced in large numbers, they would bring tremendous cost savings to the technology industry. Discs are inherently cheaper to produce than hard drives and solid state drives because they do not contain any electronic components. Additionally, these other types of storage devices have a higher cost-per-gigabyte when compared with optical discs.

The most obvious use for these fantastically large discs would be for backup purposes. Companies, businesses, and home users would be able to archive and store very large volumes of data for future use. With single hard drives now commonly available in one, two, and three-terabyte capacities, backing this information up on traditional CD and DVD discs becomes less practical.

For example, a single TDK 1-terabyte disc has the same storage capacity as approximately 218 regular regular DVD-R discs. Even more impressive is the fact that a single 1-terabyte disc holds the equivalent of 1,500 CD-Rs worth of information! Wow! These figures assume that both the CD and DVD discs were recorded using 100% of the available free space.

For years now, computer users and magazine columnists have been proclaiming that optical discs are dead, having been displaced by solid-state and flash memory technologies. And yet, how can discs be declared dead if new technologies are still being researched and developed?

The truth is, discs will be around for a long while yet. They’re not ready to retire anytime soon, especially with innovators such as TDK hard at work on exciting new formats. We’ll keep you posted as further details become available.

Comments

All this talk of data capacity with Blu-rays and terabytes disks by TDK and others and it still have not address some fundamental problems with the disks that are utterly annoying to people: scratches, dirt and the obsolete 5.25 disk size.

First:

A 5.25 inch size disk was real small back there when it replaced the enormous LP records but today in the age of 8 Gb micro SD cards and IPhones it looks like a whale. This disk size is 38 years old fellows, we need a smaller disk already.

A way to deal with this and preserve backwards compatibility is to use a special tray that has different depressions like the ones we have that have a smaller depression for the 3 inch disks or like the way the Panasonic DVD-RAM players had which had a square shaped depression or inset shape for the DVD-RAM disks but was still able to play CD-ROMS.

Or better yet forgo the stupid backwards compatibility altogether and create a new player for smaller disks and so what if we do so? DVD players for home are at $20.00 or less already and DVD recorders for PCs are at around the same prices and Blu-ray players and recorders prices are falling fast just like it happened for DVD players and recorders and will be there soon too.

If we want backwards compatibility all that we will need to do is to go out and buy a $18.00 Blu-ray player which is the price that they will have when a new format is introduced or by then most people PCs will have a Blu-ray player-recorder already just like they have DVD player-recorders all over the place today and then we will be able to transfer everything to the new disks so we would only need to buy the new format players-recorders.

Second:

I am way, way beyond sick and tired of dealing with disk scratches and other kinds of dirty smudges or substances in the surfaces of disks and most people probably feel the same about it too. Protective disk coatings for Blu-ray disks are not going to cut-it in the real world so that is hogwash, that can only help a little but it won’t handle the problem completely by far. I am very, very careful and responsible with the handling of my disks and I end up with scratched and dirty disks anyway but most of the family members and friends that I know of end up all the time with disks that look like they were attached with a string to the rear bumper of their cars for two months.

Leave alone the fact that a huge amount of these disks end in the hands of little children for game machines or video players and they treat the disks even worst than adults do. Do you really think that those Blu-ray anti-scratch coatings are going to be good enough against the abuse that small children will give these disks? Really? In what universe? They throw them in the floor all the time and sometimes just by picking them up carelessly from the floor they get scratched by making friction against the dirt in the floor. I’ve seen this countless times and that is why when I pick them up from the floor I do so carefully but why do we have to put up with that? I lost the count of how many discs have been lost in my family due to these problems and that is despite the fact that I’m always watching out for them carefully.

As the amount of data increases in these discs it compounds these problems due to higher density of the data pits in the surface of the disks data layers, it happened when the disks changed from CD to DVDs and with Blu-Rays it is worst and for a higher density multilayer disks it could be very bad too. The anti-scratch coating will handle scratches better than the dirt in the surface to begin with but there will still be problems for both things even with that.

And this is not a problem for consumers only, why do you think that franchises like Blockbuster or Videoavenue buy professional scratch removal disk surface polishing machines and use them all the time or haven’t you seem them? These machines do a great job but they cost hundreds of dollars (contrary to those consumer level ones that cost about $30.00 dollars that do not really work). The same for owners of those DVD disks serving machines at K-mart and software and game selling stores that resell used disks like GameStop. Yes they too use these machines all the time.

You want to talk about a real advance in disk technology? You give us the consumers a disk that is smaller so it can fit into a pocket (or in a lady’s purse with ease) and that have a protective shell like those old floppy disks had or like those that those old 128 megabytes 3 inch optical disks had and don’t tell me that that would be too expensive because floppys were a dime a dozen even with their shells and their little protective sliding doors and these media always start with a high price and then drops to nothing in a short period of time. Better yet, give the disks the anti-scratch coating together with the protective shell in case the darned little door opens accidentally cause it does happens sometimes.

So the next time around you manufacturers, use the darned multilayer disk technology but with a smaller disk with a protective shell. Now you manufacturers think, and you have lot’s of engineers that are capable of thinking don’t you? If a 5.25 inch disk looks too big already today how do you think that it will look a few years down the road when MicroSD cards and portable media players have two, three or many times more the capacity that they have today?

In my opinion because of these omissions the Blu-ray format was obsolete and seriously flawed from the get go. I would have rather waited a few more years for a smaller, multi-layered shell protected disk. We consumers are sick and tired of dealing with these issues so you manufacturers when you decide to create the next generation disc format please handle these issues for the consumers and for everybody else once and for all.

Oh and by the way, remember that you yourselves and all your family members and friends will be using the new discs that you create or you don’t have Playstations or similar things at your homes? so think about that too. Fix this and that would be a real advance, for everybody.

Dear PixelOz,

Wow, for someone so interested in keeping their discs scratch-free, I’m surprised you haven’t purchased, or at least looked at d_Skin! http://www.d-skin.com/

Do you also realize that discs are burned in a spiral like a record? Therefore, the smaller the disc, the smaller the data size and it is reduced at an exponential rate! Is that reason to make them bigger? Maybe if LaserDisc took off, but it didn’t, so for compatibility sake, they are the perfect size.

I sure don’t need yet another piece of equipment under my TV to play yet another format when I can have a Blu-ray player that also plays DVDs and CDs! I’m sure my wife would love that… NOT!

With this kind of rant, I would have loved to see your head spin had Rainbow Storage made it as big as Blu-ray! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_Storage

To those at the CDROM2GO Blog, I love your articles! Keep of the good work!

Cheers!

Those skins can help protect the plastic side of the disk but they are an added cost, they need to be applied too and with a protected disc you don’t have to either pay for them or apply them at all. What is more convenient?

And these protectors do not protect the data layer side of the disks and I have seen plenty of disks go bad because scratches in the data layer too which polishing the disk will not fix. What are we supposed to do? Apply two protectors? One for each side of the disc? And when we are applying a protector aren’t we in a way applying a shell to the discs anyway, one that rotates with the disc? So why manufacturers don not handle this problem so people don’t have to deal with it? In a 5.25 is difficult but in a smaller disk it’s much easier and far less cumbersome. I think that the time to fix this issue is overdue.

Look carefully in what I wrote and you will see that I was also talking about the possibility of a dual purpose tray with different depressions that may be able to play the newer smaller format and the older ones too. I could mock a tray like that up in Blender 3D rather easily.

The challenge could be to create a smaller square depression (for a smaller disks with a shell like the floppys or s smaller yet disk)or inset in the middle of the tray and still preserve the dual depressions for 5.25 and 3.1 inch compact disks.

So it may be feasible to create a deeper depression that goes lower yet (like a third level) than the small 3.1 inch compact disc depression. Something similar to this was done with Panasonic DVD-RAM disc albeit they were larger discs but the tray for these player-writers had a square inset shape for the DVD-RAM discs and a circular one for the regular CDs.

And yes I do know that the disks are burned in a spiral fashion and to begin with that doesn’t have to do that much with that amount of data that a disk holds in relation to it’s size, the surface area of the data recording layers is what accounts for that and therefore it is logical that a smaller disc with a smaller area will hold less data.

But they are talking in these new terabyte disks size technologies about many more semi-opaque data layers and I think that if you can do a 5.25 inch disk that can hold a terabyte then you can do a 2 to 3.5 inch disc that can hold enough for the next generation format.

After all a one layer 3.1 inch DVD can hold 1.4 GB of data so a 3.1 inch multilayer disc using the 5.25 inches 1 terabyte disk technology could hold close to 300 Gigabytes (rough estimate) and that is a bout six times the amount of data of a double layer Blu-ray disk.

A smaller yet disk (maybe about 2.5 inches) could still hold a lot.

And 1 terabyte is one of several capacities being touted about in relation to next generation disks because that depends on how many layers will be used so the amount that you could put in a smaller disk could still be even higher.

That is what I meant when I said that I would have rather waited for a disk like that cause they were not that far behind Blu-rays disk technologies.

That is were I think the technology should go and we could have a pocket size disk protected in a shell scratch free and the smaller the disk the lower the amount of data but the cheaper the shell will be. And we may still be able to have backwards compatibility with a little bit of ingenuity.