Ultra-high Data Density

Pure technology developments don't often have an audiophile angle, but a February 9 announcement from InPhase Technologies caught our attention.

The Longmont, CO–based data storage specialist is now shipping what it calls the "first blue laser holographic media," which it claims is capable of storing 14 hours of high-definition video or 1500 hours of audio on a single disc. Developed with financial aid from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the Tapestry HDS5000 (presumably, "HDS" stands for "high density storage") is intended for use in what InPhase calls "holographic recorders and players that will have terabytes of capacity on a single disc."

The disc is the outgrowth of previous work InPhase has done with green lasers. Lasers with colors near the blue end of the spectrum have shorter wavelengths; corresponding optical media can therefore pack more data into the same space. Blue-laser machines and discs using wavelengths in the 400–410 nanometer range are the coming wave in optical storage.

The HDS5000's level of audio resolution wasn't specified in the company's press release, and could vary tremendously depending on what type of compression scheme is employed. If "1500 hours" refers to storage potential for MP3-encoded files, that might make the disc useful for music servers for background applications. At CD or SACD/DVD-Audio level, the technology would certainly interest audiophiles.

"Tapestry HDS5000 is a breakthrough in the marketplace and will satisfy the insatiable demand for low-cost, high-performance, high-capacity data storage," said InPhase Technologies CEO Nelson Diaz, adding that the development "will help usher in an era of true all-in-one convergent devices that provide the performance and capacity of commercial products at consumer prices."

The company is developing a blue-laser recordable disc drive, the Tapestry HDS-200R drive, projected to hit the market in 2006. The drive will offer 200 gigabytes of capacity with a 20 megabyte per second transfer rate. A single disc inserted into the drive could hold "almost 100 million pages of text, 200,000 photos, over 1500 hours of audio, or 14 hours of high-definition video," according to the InPhase announcement.