Hard drive technology is currently transitioning to perpendicular media but is sticking with its tried and tested formula of spinning platters and one read/write head per platter. Thus seek time latency and read/write head bottlenecks are built-in. CD, DVD and HD DVD/Blu-ray technology all use single or double layer storage of bits read by laser. (Interestingly DataSlide uses edge laser technology for its reading also but it is not an optical media.)

Holographic storage uses the holography paradigm to radically increase optical disk storage capacity beyond the prospects for shrinking pits and having two layered optical disk. DataSlide replaces spinning platters with oscillating magnetised plates and multiple read/write heads, thus getting rid of seek time latencies.

Dataslide has received first round funding from High Invest. Optware has had a vote of support courtesy of Toshiba and others investing in it. Both technologies are leading/bleeding edge developments promising substantial gains in capacity and performance. DataSlide's promise is performance-oriented whilst Optware's is capacity.

Data Slide
Dataslide is the UK company founded to develop a new kind of hard drive technology, one using an oscillating magnetic media surface which enables data signals to be read or written by a matrix of read:write heads.

Dataslide’s chairman and CEO, Charles Barnes, said: "The product will remove an enduring bottleneck in computer system performance by increasing hard drive access speeds by orders of magnitude, whilst potentially reducing lifetime energy consumption by more than eighty percent”

Dataslide's technology is being further developed to provide a permanent storage alternative to flash storage and consumer electronics volume storage solutions.

First generation Dataslide products are likely to have a 36-72GB capacity, a response time of 0.2-0.3 milliseconds, a true data rate of 64MB/sec (without caching), and use standard protocols including PCI Express. Production is anticipated by the end of 2007 or the beginning of 2008. The technologists there believe this performance will be further improved as prototyping and pre-production development is carried out.

High Invest has committed $500,000 in seed funding, which will allow the company to complete its worldwide IP protection process and to further its product development activities ahead of a full funding round, due this summer.

“We are extremely proud to be the first external investor for both this amazing technology and the exceptional technical team at Dataslide”, commented Eric Berthaud, Founder and CEO of High Invest.

Optware is developing a multi-TB capacity holographic versatle disk - HVD. It has just gained $14 million in a fifth round of venture capital funding - the development is expensive - from investors including Toshiba. This is the first time a hard drive and optical disk manufacturer has invested in optical storage.

Currently DVD succession is being strongly fought over by HD DVD (High Definition DVD), a technology supported by a group of suppliers including Toshiba, and Blu-ray, a similar blue laser technology being productised by Sony and others. It's a re-run of the VHS-Betamax wars at the moment although products aren't being delivered yet.

Toshiba reckons that Optware's HVD could be compatible in some way with HD-DVD.

Hiroharu Satoh, a general manager in the HD-DVD area at Toshiba, said: “Optware’s HVD ... has a good possibility to be compatible with the conventional DVD and next-generation HD DVD. HVD has a glittering promise to be (a) future optical recording media which promises our customers (a) smooth migration from HD DVD.”

Optware claims HVD will change the way businesses with mass storage needs or large data files securely store, transfer, and manage them. It should enable enterprises to store up to 3.9TB on CD-sized disc with data transfer rates up to 1Gbps, 40 times a DVD rate.

Holographic recording technology records data on discs in the form of laser interference fringes. Optware says HVD offers high capacity, high transfer rates, random access, fast seek speeds, and permanent storage (at least a 50 year life), as well as low on-going maintenance and management costs. HVD is also easy to handle and store. Storage nirvana then.

Standardisation and promotion efforts are being undertaken too.

Six companies including CMC Magnetics, Fuji Photo Film, Nippon Paint, Optware, Pulstec Industrial and Toagosei have formed an HVD Alliance to accelerate technology development, develop a marketplace and promote HVD technology and products. A technical committee, TC44, to discuss the standardization of HVD was approved at the 88th Ecma International General Assembly last December.

It may appear that HVD products are closer than DataSlide's products but we have an entire post-DVD generation to get through first. Allow four years for the HD DVD/Blu-ray product life span and HVD looks like a 2009 timeframe product.