Ohio-based start-up Folio Photonics has announced new innovations in the world of data storage, promising to pave the way for affordable optical discs that can store up to 1TB per disc.
In comparison, a 4K Blu-ray disc can store up to 100GB, while a theoretical 8K Blu-ray disc that doesn't even exist yet is expected to hold 200GB or 250GB. Folio is planning on bringing 10TB cartridges packed with 1TB discs to market in 2024.
What's more, this is not being developed with the intention of creating a high-capacity, ultra-expensive storage format that only the biggest companies in the world with the most pressing data storage needs can afford. Currently, a 1TB hard drive costs about $25, while Folio's development is expected to cost less than $5 per TB.
How exactly is Folio managing to massively increase capacity and simultaneously bring down costs, you ask? Of course, the secret sauce is, well, secret – and now inevitably patented. But Folio says that it has made breakthroughs in optical disc layering, being able to create discs with eight or even sixteen discrete layers. This contrasts to the traditional three-layer optical discs of today.
Discs have been cheap for a long time, and we've relied on them heavily for a long time, but an increasing limitation of discs in today's media-hungry world has become capacity. In general, for consumer media, we're limited to 4K Blu-rays with 100GB of storage, and these are already fairly expensive. 8K Blu-ray may never be a thing, and even if it is it will be expensive and limited to around 250GB max.
If Folio truly can build high-capacity, low-cost discs, this could be a true successor to Blu-ray and the saving grace of physical media that is, right now, slowly being phased out as storage requirements keep increasing. Of course, enterprise data archival storage technology is not the same thing as a Blu-ray disc. However, if Folio's new disc is as high-capacity and as affordable as the firm claims it will be at launch, and if it can be used for consumer media effectively, this could give physical media a new lease of life, perhaps becoming the best and last storage format of our age.
According to Folio, 1TB per disc isn't even the ceiling of this new optical disc technology either. Further development will be carried out with the aim of enabling even more layers per disc to further increase storage capacity. Theoretically, then, we could see discs with multiple terabytes of storage materialise in the next few years.
Folio isn't bringing this tech to market until 2024, and if everything goes according to plan it will initially be targeted at the enterprise storage market. Don't expect this on store shelves and revolutionising consumer physical media anytime soon, but be sure to keep an eye on it. Because it might just be the future.
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