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Sunday, 24 May 2009 17:15

Super-DVD 5D disc is 5 to 10 years away'¦ meh

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All the brouhaha about Blu-ray needing to watch out because researchers have created a disc that can store 1.6TB of data today (and 10TB to come) is a bit of a load of bollocks, with the technology up to a decade away from commercialisation and even 10TB due to look teensy-weensy by then.

{loadpositionalex08}It’s been all over the news – a new “five-dimensional” recording system for DVD-sized discs that can store 1.6TB of data (compared with Blu-ray’s current 50GB limit), able to store 300 movies, 250,000 songs and leap tall buildings with a single bound.

It’s the death of Blu-ray, right? Hardly. Blu-ray is already being threatened not only by DVDs and upscaling players, but by downloads, both legal and illegal.

Sure, Blu-ray delivers the best quality at the moment, but as broadband speeds get faster with fibre projects underway and/or planned in different parts of the world (including, supposedly, Australia), HD movie downloads synchronised with their theatrical releases will become common.

Already a range of pay TV companies offer HD services and movies on demand, and Blu-ray is widely available to anyone that wants it, so getting content in HD is not the issue.

Physical storage is the issue, and a disc that can store terabytes of data would be a very handy thing, if it were available to consumers today.

The Swinburne University of Technology and Samsung scientists working on the 1.6TB disc admit that recording speeds are being worked on, which infers that recording 1.6TB on the special burner in the labs today is a relatively slow process.

The advances and discoveries these scientists have made do show how much more efficiently the space provided by a DVD-sized piece of plastic can be used to store much more information, with 10TB of data promised in future versions.

The thing is, although the scientists say the technology could be used in military, financial and medical arenas today, its commercialisation is supposed to be 5 to 10 years away.

What’s the large storage alternatives available today? After all, if you want space, time nor money needs to be your final frontier to getting it! Please read on…


We already have 512GB SSD’s from Toshiba on the market. Sure, they’re very expensive, but in a couple of years they’ll not only be much cheaper,but surely 1TB and 2TB or larger models will already be on the market.

These will be infinitely more portable and far more resistant to damage that an easily scratchable and breakable DVD-sized disc. Far faster at transferring and recording information too, I’d wager.

3D Holographic memory is also supposed to be on the horizon, while hard disks will continue growing in capacity for the foreseeable future,too.

If blank Blu-ray discs cost the same as blank DVDs, with Blu-ray recorders also at DVD-recorder prices, something that would be rapidly rolled out with all new PC purchases, and cheap to upgrade an existing desktop PC to, use of Blu-ray discs could start to go through the roof. 

That said, with (currently expensive) 64GB flash drives available today and the widespread prevalence and preference of downloading, it’s almost too late already. 

With a home Blu-ray recorder to record HD TV programming or transfer your HD video camera recordings onto costing over $2000, and Blu-ray recorders for PCs still expensive, Blu-ray just hasn’t been the super-smash hit it was created to be, with the whole HD-DVD thing and a perfectly good and cheaper DVD market not helping much either.

What is certain is that multi-terabyte portable storage of various types is already in our not-too-distant future, and indeed, it’s already available today, with Western Digital offering 2TB 3.5-inch drives from just under AUD $400 and Seagate offering 2TB models, too.

Sure, a 3.5-inch portable hard drive is nowhere near as portable and sleek as a 12cm DVD sized disc, but if you need that much storage to go, go to your local computer store and buy one today.

And in 5 to 10 years time you can buy the disc that stores not 1.6TB or 10TB, but petabytes, exabytes, zettabytes or yottabytes instead.

Have ya gotta yotta? Definitely not today, but one day, you will – and we’ll still find ways to fill it.



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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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