Sony and Panasonic team up on 1TB optical discs for archival storage

Just when you thought that the 25GB storage capacity of Blu-ray discs is large enough, Sony and Panasonic have something even better up their sleeves. Engineered for enterprise storage, the new Archival Disc storage medium comes in the same dimensions as the current Blu-ray format but will have the potential to store up to a staggering 1TB of data. In addition, the durability and readability of this medium is touted at 50 years.

While dual-layer Blu-ray discs is capable of storing up to 50GB of data, Archival Disc’s unique three layers-per-side attribute offers even higher storage capacity. Inside sources say it is expected to pepper the market by 2015 with the 300GB version. Sources say other capacities such as the 500GB and 1TB (the equivalent of 250 DVD films) versions, are also on the cards.

According to Panasonic, the Archival Disc is intended to create demand for archives that use optical discs. The higher capacities are achieved through a set of patented signal processing technologies where multi-level recording processes are deployed.

Better still, the discs eschews the need for any form of special storage requirements. End users need not worry about environmental conditions such as a constant temperature or humidity, dust and water, nor does it require special air conditioning.

These discs also beat linear tape-open technology (LTO) and magnetic tape storage format hands down. While LTO touts to have even higher capacities, its storage life is less than 50 years. Hard drives on the other hand prove to have even shorter shelf lives, and with failure rates at nearly 12 per cent after three years, it is proving to be an even weaker contender to enterprise storage medium.

Panasonic and Sony have also made these discs “inter-generational” compatible so that as optical disc formats evolve, the older discs can still be read by newer enterprise storage systems.

These higher-capacity storage discs will whet the appetite for consumers but no plans are targeted for the commercial market. A Panasonic spokesperson cites that the development is specifically geared for professional archiving – a need for long-term digital data storage.