Holograms: A New Storage Medium - InformationWeek

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4/18/2002
02:01 PM
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Holograms: A New Storage Medium

Holograms have wowed TV viewers before Trekkies even existed--they're on trading cards, and they help insure that credit cards are the real McCoy. Now, they're being groomed to store vast amounts of data at a rapid clip.

InPhase Technologies Inc., a storage provider in Longmont, Colo., has developed a holographic video-recording system that could replace the cumbersome optical jukeboxes used for capacity-consuming applications. Dubbed Tapestry, the system uses disks installed in slots in the backs of computers. To users, Tapestry will look like a typical DVD drive, but it will store 100 Gbytes of data--more than 20 times as much as typical DVDs.

The holograms will be inside the disks, with 800 to 1,000 per 3 millimeter-by-3-millimeter area of disk space. Tapestry is expected to have a transfer rate of 20 Mbytes per second in its first generation. "The physics of the hologram allow more than one thing to be stored in the same space at the same time," says Bill Wilson, InPhase's chief scientist. That enables Tapestry to cram more data into a given piece of disk.

The system should help stop computers from crashing when E-mails with large attachments are received. It should also help computers handle messages with video and audio.

InPhase hopes to ship Tapestry in volume during 2004, but general acceptance may take longer. International Data Corp. analyst Wolfgang Schlichting knows the technology sounds like science fiction to many, but says users should think of it the way they do digital cameras. "It's a megapixel of information," he says, "capable of storing very large amounts."

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