Optical disk capacity is about to leap again as a UK company prepares to demonstrate a 30GB drive at Comdex.
The capacity of 30GB - 15GB per side - ultra density optical (UDO) disc is about 3.5 times that of current DVDs and Cambridge-based Plasmon said plans were already in place for 60 and 120GB drives.
The UDO drive is the first to use a 405 nanometer blue-violet laser and phase-change technology that allows greater storage density.
"What we've done is taken a head and lens assembly and other components, and built the electronics to put it together," Stewart Vane-Tempest, Plasmon's director of optical products, told vnunet.com. "Nothing has been newly invented from scratch."
He said that Plasmon will demonstrate a write once read many (Worm) drive doing reads and writes at Comdex. But first customer shipments, planned for August 2003, will be of a multi-function drive supporting both Worm and rewritable media.
To some extent the company has stolen a march on the Blu-Ray consortium of major competitors that includes Hitachi, Philips, Sony and Samsung. It is planning a single-sided 27GB drive that uses similar technology.
But Vane-Tempest said that the consortium is concentrating entirely on the MPEG video market and aiming to get three hours of high definition TV.
The relatively modest 8MB/s maximum transfer rate, equivalent to magneto-optical drives, is a little slow for raw video, but has plenty of capacity for MPEG2 as used in most videos. So the company is already talking to some TV companies.
But Vane-Tempest explained that, although there are many possible markets, the initial focus would be on document management and medical archiving where users liked the combination of Worm and rewritable media to cover different storage needs.
Drives will be shipped to software partners to test application as early as next spring. Release pricing is expected to be around £1,300, similar to equivalent magneto-optical drives.
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