Skip to comments.Glass Slivers That Store Data Forever Unveiled By Hitachi
Posted on 09/24/2012 4:24:00 AM PDT by fella
Glass slivers that store data forever unveiled by Hitachi
AFP - As Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones prove, good music lasts a long time; now Japanese hi-tech giant Hitachi says it can last even longer -- a few hundred million years at least.
The company on Monday unveiled a method of storing digital information on slivers of quartz glass that can endure extreme temperatures and hostile conditions without degrading, almost forever.
And for anyone who updated their LP collection onto CD, only to find they then needed to get it all on MP3, a technology that never needs to change might sound appealing.
"The volume of data being created every day is exploding, but in terms of keeping it for later generations, we haven't necessarily improved since the days we inscribed things on stones," Hitachi researcher Kazuyoshi Torii said.
"The possibility of losing information may actually have increased," he said, noting the life of digital media currently available -- CDs and hard drives -- is limited to a few decades or a century at most.
And the rapid development of technologies has resulted in frequent changes of data-reading hardware.
"As you must have experienced, there is the problem that you cannot retrieve information and data you managed to collect," said Torii, apparently referring to now-obsolete record players and cine films.
Hitachi's new technology stores data in binary form by creating dots inside a thin sheet of quartz glass, which can be read with an ordinary optical microscope.
Provided a computer with the know-how to understand that binary is available -- simple enough to programme, no matter how advanced computers become -- the data will always be readable, Torii said.
The prototype storage device is two centimetres (0.8 inches) square and just two millimetres (0.08 inches) thick and made from quartz glass, a highly stable and resilient material, used to make beakers and other instruments for laboratory use.
The chip, which is resistant to many chemicals and unaffected by radio waves, can be exposed directly to high temperature flames and heated to 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,832 Fahrenheit) for at least two hours without being damaged.
It is also waterproof, meaning it could survive natural calamities, such as fires and tsunami.
"We believe data will survive unless this hard glass is broken," said senior researcher Takao Watanabe.
The material currently has four layers of dots, which can hold 40 megabytes per square inch, approximately the density on a music CD, researchers said, adding they believe adding more layers should not be a problem.
Hitachi have not decided when to put the chip to practical use but researchers said they could start with storage services for government agencies, museums and religious organisations.
This means that - in a few hundred million years - forensic archaeologists from the unthinkably distant future will still be able to read our posts.
Will this inspire us to create threads worthy of the ages: - to spin skeins of digital thought that will amaze and inform generations yet to be?
Let’s see how that works out :0)
A square inch the thickness of a cd, for only 40 mb? That’s going to pile up rather quickly.
Dang! Good job - you beat me to it.
I envision a future debate wherein one candidate pulls a shard of broken glass and screams at the other: “Tax returns? You want to see my tax returns? I’ll show you my tax returns. Here are my tax returns!!”
Fast forward to the future when new civilization emerges from the ashes of ours after having been extinguished for many thousands of years and finds remnants of the digital age.
It will be as perplexing to them as the great mysteries of antiquity are to us today.
If they can do it with glass how far behind is Plexiglass ?
If they can do it with glass how far behind is Plexiglass ?
And how far behind that will be aluminum embedded plexiglass discs? Oh . . . . .wait. Nevermind.
They used them on the Enterprise too
Hmmm....I was thinking along the lines of ‘Babylon 5’ data crystals coming into existence.
I am increasingly becoming convinced that archaeologists, when confronted with something whose purpose is non-obvious, simply make something up. Typically, they say it was an object used in religious ceremonies. So ironically, if they find an archive of posts from godless DU, they will claim that these glass slivers with strange dots on them appear to be religious artifacts.
You would generally use it for things that you wanted to keep around for a long time: corporate data, music archives, video archives. For individual people, this would be a medium to transfer video recordings of their children growing up, family pictures, stuff you want to be able to pass on to your grandchildren.
darn...and I thought the 64G USB memory thingy I bought yesterday was cool....
I've been trying to forget this Sliver.
“Open the pod bay doors Hal” will become “open the family photo album hal”.
This concept was first proposed as a memory method at least 20 years ago. Finally glass memory storage may be coming to fruition, it appears.
This is only proof of concept stuff, I suspect. It is likely that it won’t be long before this is able to be many more than four layers of data, and that data can be much more compressed than 10Mb/sq.in/layer, if the history of the advance of technology is followed.
Nevertheless, the most important part of this announcement is the longevity and permanence of this data storage device.
But that's as much as 5 Thumbdrives!
OK, so the data will last for centuries - how about the devices to ‘read’ that data?
Thanks BenLurkin. The problem is, picking it up without cutting yourself.
You misread. It has the information density of a CD, not the thickness of a CD.
Actually, thirty years ago, the guys in the lab next door to mine at the research center in El Segundo, CA, an offshoot of Xerox’s PARC, Dr. P. McQ. and his assistant, Bob, were working on glass memory with micro lasers just before PARC closed the entire lab and laid us all off.
This is sweeeet! They never should have closed that lab down, but it was political. The director of the Advanced Development Lab made someone among the PTB at PARC really angry about something, and that was that.
We could have skipped a whole lot of media-storage steps if they hadn’t made that corrupt decision in 1982, which is ahead in the running for the worst year of my life.
No I didn’t. The article refers to data density (which isn’t that great actually if no better than a cd) and thickness. The thickness is actually a little higher than a cd, at .08 inches for this glass vs about .05 inches for a cd.
The mistake I made was a thinking a cd was about 2mm thick when it’s thinner.
Yes. I kind of low-balled it when I estimated when I first heard discussions of glass structures used for computer memory. I am not surprised to hear that PaloAlto was involved in such research. It is rather surprising for me to hear that you were involved in some way with that research!
Oh, I thought I told you a while ago that I was an RA-5 at a PARC division. I didn’t work on the glass memory; the guys in the lab next door to mine did, and they were pretty excited about it at the time and explained it to me.
I used to go in their lab to use the SEM and a few other pieces of their equipment. My lab was electroplating and photolithography, too fumy and chemically to house their sensitive equipment.
I was working on the resistor/capacitor electrographic writing head for Xerox machines at the time. I completed the first prototype before they closed the division. It worked, too!