Even as Blu-ray continues to experience growing pains in its slow march to usurp the DVD market, Sony has confirmed that it is working in conjunction with Japanese researchers from Tohoku University in order to develop a next-generation “blu-violet ultrafast pulsed semiconductor laser” that will be able to hold 1TB of data on a single disc.
A standard blu-ray disc holds 25GB of data, while a dual layer disc doubles that. With the new laser, storage capacity would hit 20-times the capacity of a Blu-ray disc, leading to 500GB single layer discs and 1TB dual-layer discs.
To put that in perspective, a standard DVD released by a Hollywood studio will use a dual-layer disc that holds 9.4GB (although a typical movie is around 6GB). At DVD quality, a single dual-layer disc using the new technology would be able to hold 106 full-length movies and all the special features on each disc. HD movies can range in size, but are typically between 20GB and 25GB, meaning you could fit around 40 full-length Blu-ray movies and special features onto a single disc.
The technology uses a new form of laser that can generate pulses measuring in the picoseconds: one picoseconds equals one-trillionth of a second. The new semiconductor laser and semiconductor optical amplifier allow the output power to top 100 watts, which is more than one hundred times the output of conventional blue-violet pulse semiconductor lasers.
The battle for the next generation of optical storage is well underway, and the fight will be fierce. In April, the Blu-ray Disc Association announced that it would soon be releasing discs that could store up to 128GB of data per disc, which was hailed as a breakthrough. Less than a month later, researchers working out of the University of Tokyo claimed to have discovered a new, cheap and easily created material that could store up to 25TB on one disc. According to The Examiner, Sony has not given any indication when it intends this technology to reach the consumer level, and it will likely be years before this technology is ready for commercial applications.
Expect the battle to heat up over the next few years, as every company with a stake in the digital storage industry begins the battle to be the next standard in digital storage.