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Date: 23rd Oct. 2012

Project Report
(Micro Holographic Data Storage)
Submitted to:

Submitted By:
Muhammad Qasim Nawaz

Enrollment #:

1. Introduction 2. What is Holographic Data Storage? 3. Recording data 4. Reading data 5. Longevity 6. Advantages & Disadvantages 7. Future of this Technology

Holographic data storage is a potential technology in the area of high capacity data storage currently dominated by magnetic and conventional optical data storage. Magnetic and optical data storage devices rely on individual bits being stored as distinct magnetic or optical changes on the surface of the recording medium. Holographic data storage records information throughout the volume of the medium and is capable of recording multiple images in the same area utilizing light at different angles. Additionally, whereas magnetic and optical data storage records information a bit at a time in a linear fashion, holographic storage is capable of recording and reading millions of bits in parallel, enabling data transfer rates greater than those attained by traditional optical storage.

What is Holographic Storage?

Holographic storage is a mass storage technology that uses three dimensional holographic images to enable more information to be stored in a much smaller space. The technology uses holograms which are created when a light from a single laser beam is split into two beams; the signal beam (which carries the data) and the reference beam. In holographic storage, at the point where the reference beam and the data carrying signal beam intersect, the hologram is recorded in the light sensitive storage medium.

Today, holographic storage is a Worm technology that relies on light-sensitive media housed in removable protective cartridges. Although rewritable media and drives will appear in the next few years, much like the progression from CD-R to CD-RW or from DVD-R to DVD-RW, experts note that the most likely application for Worm media is for long-term archiving.

Recording data:
Holographic data storage contains information using an optical interference pattern within a thick, photosensitive optical material. Light from a single laser beam is divided into two separate optical patterns of dark and light pixels. By adjusting the reference beam angle, wavelength, or media position, a multitude of holograms (theoretically, several thousand) can be stored on a single volume.

Reading data:
The stored data is read through the reproduction of the same reference beam used to create the hologram. The reference beams light is focused on the photosensitive material, illuminating the appropriate interference pattern, the light diffracts on the interference pattern, and projects the pattern onto a detector. The detector is capable of reading the data in parallel, over one million bits at once, resulting in the fast data transfer rate. Files on the holographic drive can be accessed in less than 200 milliseconds.

Holographic data storage can provide companies a method to preserve and archive information. The write-once, read many (WORM) approach to data

Storage would ensure content security, preventing the information from being overwritten or modified. Manufacturers believe this technology can provide safe storage for content without degradation for more than 50 years, far exceeding current data storage options. Counterpoints to this claim are that the evolution of data reader technology has in the last couple of decades changed every ten years. If this trend continues, it therefore follows that being able to store data for 50100 years on one format is irrelevant, because you would migrate the data to a new format after only ten years. However, claimed longevity of storage has, in the past, proven to be a key indicator of shorter-term reliability of storage media. Current optical formats such as CD have largely lived up to the original longevity claims (where reputable media makes are used) and have proved to be more reliable shorterterm data carriers than the floppy disk and DAT media they displaced.

Advantages & Disadvantages:

Advantages: The argument in favor of holographic storage is quite limited at the moment, and the value proposition is challenging at best. On the plus side, long-term media stability and reliability is a compelling advantage for deep archiving purposes discs and tape simply cannot assure reliability out to 50 years. Holographic technology also provides portability, allowing the distribution of dense data that cannot be sent conveniently over networks, such as broadcast or high-definition video. The technology should also become more appealing for shorter term backups and archives as companies continue to rely less on tape backups. For example, holographic storage attached to a virtual tape library (VTL) system might be an excellent tape replacement. Disadvantages: On the downside, early holographic storage drives will run in the 10,000 range, with media costing about 100 per disc. Holographic media capacity is also limited to about 300Gbytes. While this capacity is expected to grow substantially over time, it's hard to make a case for a 300Gbyte optical disc against readily available 1Tbyte hard drives or 1.6Tbyte (compressed) LTO-4 tapes without a specific application. Furthermore, the long-term reliability and readability of holographic drives is still unproven. Holographic recording is also very data sensitive. This is similar to early CD-R or DVD-R systems that required constant data in the drive's write buffer. If the buffer emptied during a write process, the CD-R or DVD-R recording would fail and the

disc would be ruined. It wasn't until much later in the technology's lifecycle that "multi-session" and "burn-proof" techniques were added. Lesser-known drawbacks to holographic storage include light sensitivity and limited shelf life of unexposed (unrecorded) holographic media. Blank optical CD/DVD media is forgiving in its handling and unrecorded shelf life. On the other hand, blank (unrecorded) holographic media behaves more like unexposed photographic paper. Prematurely exposing the holographic discs to light can expose and ruin them, and the unexposed media only has a shelf life of about three years.

Future of Technology:
The future of holographic storage is fraught with unknowns. But at this point, the No. 1 concerns are high cost and product immaturity. Experts agree that capacity and performance will only increase over time, moving from 300Gbytes to 800Gbytes and finally on to 1.6Tbytaes over the next 48 months or so. But the pace of improvements will ultimately rest heavily on industry acceptance. Given that holographic technology is currently geared toward a niche in the storage market, it may be years before early product releases give way to more capable and cost-effective systems that appeal to a larger storage audience. Experts also note the possible introduction of "hybrid" holographic media. Just as magnetic hard drives are starting to incorporate significant quantities of flash or Ram within the disc, near-term holographic storage media may add some amount of flash memory in the cartridge to provide a degree of rewritability until a suitable rewritable media is developed and productized.

Backward compatibility also remains a significant unknown. No tape drive in your enterprise today is capable of reading a tape written 50 years ago, and the same specter is in the cards for holographic storage.