The Brits And Storage

The Brits have succeeded in squeezing a terabyte onto a DVD disk, 10 times what the BluRay disks can  currently hold and 50 times the capacity of a double-sided, double-layed DVD.

Nature reports that the disk is called MODS, for Multiplexed Optical Data Storage, and could potentially contain 472 hours of video footage – equivalent to a terabyte, or 1,000 gigabytes, of data. It’s been developed by a team led by Peter Török of Imperial College London.

But there’s a problem: So far the researchers can’t retrieve information from their disk fast enough for video footage. It also won’t be around any time soon: Török believes that MODS disks could hit the shops between 2010 and 2015. And it will be too expensive for the layman, so MODS is more likely to be used by libraries or software companies looking for ways to marshal their huge amounts of data. “The British Library could put all their microfiches onto disks,” Török is quoted as saying. “It will be very good for archiving.”

Mind you, people said that about storage before. By then I’m guessing a terabyte on a DVD is not going to seem all that surprising, or all that expensive.

Eight Gigabytes Of Stuff On One DVD

In the next few weeks, expect to be able to buy DVD discs that can store up 16 hours of video or 8.5 GB of Data. Verbatim said yesterday they would this spring release “the industry’s first Double-Layer DVD+R (DVD+R DL) discs”, nearly doubling the storage capacity on DVD recordable discs (from 4.7GB to 8.5GB) on a single side. Verbatim says these discs will be compatible with existing DVD video players and DVD-ROM drives.

That ’16 hours’ bit needs some clarifying: in fact, you could only store up to 4 hours of DVD-quality video — the 16 hours refers to VHS video quality. The way Verbatim say they do this is to have the first recording layer semi-transparent with enough reflectivity for writing/reading data on the first layer, yet transmitting enough laser power to read/write on the second layer by refocusing the laser.

Verbatim expect content developers (read DVD movies, big software packages) to make use of this technology: You could fit two Hollywood movies on one of these discs, if you really wanted to. Is this the time when I can talk about how I remember how all you could get on a floppy drive was less than one megabyte, but how somehow we were happier then? (No – Ed.)

DVD Burners, Going Even Cheaper

Further to my column last week about how DVD burners may be worth investing in, Slashdotters are debating their rapidly falling prices — in some cases to below $100. The discussion is here; the original article reviewing sub-$100 burners is here.

Having just spent more of my weekend than is healthy backing up my MP3 collection (20+ gigabytes) I have no doubt about their appeal for storing large quantities of data. That collection went onto six DVD discs. If I’d done the same thing to CD-ROM it would have taken, er, a lot more.

News: DVDs Go To Eight GB

 Soon you can burn more than 8 gigabytes onto a DVD. Technology co-developed by drive maker Philips and media specialists Verbatim and Mitsubishi Kagaku, adds a second recording layer to a standard-thickness DVD+R disc The Register reports. That’s enough for four hours of DVD-quality material, 16 hours of VHS-quality content or two hours’ archive footage. The discs are playback-compatible with existing DVD players and DVD-ROM drives.
 
 

Software: Retrieving CD Data

 Here’s an option to recover data from unreadable CDs. (I haven’t tested this.) CD/DVD Diagnostic “works to retrieve a consumer’s damaged files corrupted by a defective drive, bad software or from user error”. It works on unreadable, scratched, or corrupt CD-R, CD-RW, DVD+R, and DVD+RW discs. Unlike programs that use Windows’ file system to access bad files, CD/DVD Diagnostic bypasses Windows and ignores the original software that created the lost data file. No attempt is made to repair the damaged disc. Rather, the unreadable files are repaired and written to your hard drive. It sounds intriguing. CD/DVD Diagnostic costs $70. CD Rx Data Retriever costs $40.