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An idea more than 40 years in development is beginning to work its way into the storage marketplace.
InPhase Technologies will ramp up volume production of its holographic storage drives and media in mid-2007, and early units available for the first half of the year are already committed, according to company officials (see InPhase Nears Storage Breakthrough).
InPhase has also signed library and jukebox OEM deals with the likes of ASM and DSM, the latter deal announced yesterday.
That's a big leap for optical technology, but still well behind enterprise-class disk drives and tape technology. Still, the company claims a bit error rate that's better than disk drives and approaching tape, and its latency, longevity and ease of media storage best tape, so the three-dimensional storage technology could win some enterprise converts for infrequently accessed archival storage. The relatively slow transfer rate could create data migration issues down the road, however.
At a list price of $180 for media and $18,000 for drives, tape formats like LTO appear to have a cost advantage, but with a product roadmap that includes 1.6 terabyte (TB) discs in a few years, InPhase could narrow the gap over time. The company says it expects to approach, if not catch, tape in price, performance and capacity over time.
InPhase says it has already delivered the first commercial holographic storage drives. Together with DSM's optical jukebox systems, the companies say they will offer "the highest-capacity optical storage solution on the market." The first holographic archival systems will be aimed at customers in the broadcast, government, medical, and IT markets. DSM customers include Deutsche Bank, ESA, Siemens Medical and Volkswagen, among others.
InPhase marketing vice president Liz Murphy said the company is going after customers in the rich media space, such as entertainment, scientific, government and medical organizations, and also targeting some compliance issues. "They cannot afford to keep it on hard drives, and they do not like tape as a long-term archival medium because of issues with data recovery," said Murphy. "The enterprise customers we are talking to have more data than they know what to do with and are not happy with any of their existing choices."