Sony and Panasonic have announced that a joint venture between the two companies to create a successor to Blu-Ray is finally bearing some fruit in the form of a new standard called Archival Disc. Archival Disc is set to launch in mid-2015 and will appear on the market offering capacities of up to 300GB. Both Sony and Panasonic see the new standard as the way forward for offline backups and both are planning to support the standard in their new products launching next year.
For a refresher, regular Blu-Ray discs have offered up to 50GB of storage for dual-layer discs and it’s possible to cram 128GB onto a single side thanks to the Blu-Ray Disc Association’s partners who have tons of black magic up their sleeves. Although Blu-Ray works really well as a storage medium with its scratch-resistant surface, that 50GB hard limit in normal discs prevents its use for a lot of different scenarios, particularly in the case of making backups of computer systems.
Archival Disc, meanwhile, aims to ease this up a bit by offering capacities of up to 150GB per side, with a dual-layered disc giving you 300GB in total. Its still not completely ideal for full system images but it’ll do. The technology uses three writable layers on a single side and it’ll probably be a slow format to start out, with read speeds sitting anywhere between 2x and 8x.
The roadmap for the Archival Disc format has some pretty lofty goals. Sony and Panasonic promise to increase the size per disc to 250GB on each side for a total of 500GB and later on a 1TB disc with 500GB on each side. Doing this while still sticking to the three writable layers per side will be difficult and I expect that using different lasers will be required for the higher capacities to work.
For the 1TB capacity specifically, Sony and Panasonic will have to design a way to have multiple layers of data share the same writable layer on the disc. This is what High Linear Density is and it may turn out to be a very tricky thing to do.
Its great to see that offline cold storage is still on the back of everyone’s minds and rather than surrender your data to hard drive failure or being scratched around in by the NSA, it’s easier to just write it to disc and keep it safe somewhere. Disc capacities will only increase as the need to deliver more data to consumers without the internet connections required becomes more of an issue.
This is why Microsoft’s goals for a disc-less Xbox One was a silly idea – not enough customers have the internet connection to support digital downloads and it would have cut out a huge portion of their market share straight off the bat. With Blu-Ray movies hitting the 25GB mark and higher and the UltraHD 4K revolution on its way, using discs still be the most efficient mechanism to distribute media and video content to consumers.