New Discs to Store 472 Hours of Video

Jeff Berg
LONDON — Researchers from Imperial College London announced yesterday that one of their new optical discs may have enough storage capacity to hold every episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “24,” “Friends,” and “The West Wing,” all on a single disc the size of a DVD.

The new double-sided, dual-layered discs, referred to as Multiplexed Optical Data Storage, would store up to a terabyte of data or about 472 hours of video, according to Dr. Peter Török, the photonics professor who lead the research.

“We came up with the idea of this disc some years ago, but did not have the means to prove whether it worked,” Török said at the Asia-Pacific Data Storage Conference 2004.

The new MODS would compete with technology like BluRay discs, scheduled to be released on the home market at the end of 2005. BluRay discs hold approximately five times the capacity of a DVD and store roughly 25 gigabytes per layer.

“According to our experimental results, we can optimistically estimate that we will be able to store about one terabyte per disc in total using our new method,” said Török. “This translates to about 250 gigabytes per layer, ten times the amount that a BluRay disc can hold.”

Imperial researchers estimate that the new discs would cost about the same as an ordinary DVD, but that it would require a new player because of the unique method used to store data.

Unlike regular CDs or DVDs, which store information in a binary format using small pits sunk to equal depths, MODS store information using asymmetric pits that contain steps sunken in one of 332 different angles.

According to Török, high storage capacity discs will become more important as manufacturers look toward make optical discs smaller.

“Multiplexing and high density ODS come in handy when manufacturers talk about miniaturization of the discs,” Török said. “The future for the mobile device market is likely to require small diameter discs storing much information. This is where a MODS disc could really fill a niche.”

MODS are expected to hit shelves around 2010, provided development funding is secured.