While quantum physicists doubt that we may be living in a three-dimensional hologram projected from two-dimensional world from the edge of the universe, engineers seem to have taken inspiration from quantum physicists by proposing holographic data storage systems to store information related to our virtual world. While magnetic storage has been replaced by optical storage solutions over time, holographic data storage systems seem to be the next big thing. Let us look into what exactly holographic storage is and why or why not it should be adopted in time to come.
How it works?
While our magnetic and optical disks utilize only two-dimensions of our universe, holographic storage takes the third dimension into account and is capable of recording multiple images on the same area by projecting light at different angles on the storage media. A laser is split into beams and the data is stored as an interference pattern on the light sensitive storage medium.
Holographic storage systems would help in considerable reduction in the size of storage media. This can be understood from the fact that data of up to 1TeraByte can be stored in a mere one centimetre cube.
Data Transfer Speed
Just like storage capacity holographic data storage offers considerable advantage over conventional storage devices in terms of speed. You can transfer up to 1240 MB of data per second, which is means it wouldn’t take long even if you have Terabytes of data to archive.
Holographic storage relies on write-once, read many (WORM technique) to store data which provides better security as you cannot overwrite information.
Data stored on holographic storage media can last upwards 50 years, which would meet the requirements of many especially in case of archiving data for longer period of time.
Unfortunately, the technology related to holographic storage is still very expensive and a 1TB drive costs around $1000. This is way higher than conventional 1TB hard drives that cost around $150.
The data streaming cannot be interrupted in between while storing data in holographic storage just like early days CD-R. This means we cannot store partially in patches.
There has been considerable hype about holographic storage for years, though it may still take years for the cost of technology to come down significantly and the overall product to become more versatile and ubiquitous. Another possible solution is combining the advantages of holographic media with existing tape drive and optical drives to produce and more ‘hybrid’ that caters to different needs of the market. Holographic storage systems may be seen being deployed in coming years by enterprises to archive sensitive data, the impact it can have on data storage in long term cannot be underestimated. We do need certain breakthroughs to come related to this field to eventually make it part of the mainstream storage media.