Hitachi Unveils Million-Year Storage Media
Finding reliable, long-term storage media has been a challenge since the dawn of the computer age. Magnetic tape and discs can deteriorate over time, and even digital media like CDs and DVDs can degrade as well, depending on how they are stored. Other platforms are more stable, but may become outdated. What good is it to save important information on a portable drive, for instance, if there’s no way to retrieve it 100 years from now?
Hitachi (working in conjunction with Kyoto University) says it has come up with a solution (albeit a pricey one) that could potentially provide safe storage for millions — or even hundreds of millions — of years. Using quartz glass, the company has devised a method to etch, read (using a microscope), and maintain data for a very long time. A laser stipples dots onto a piece of quartz glass (corresponding to binary code), while an optical microscope can be used to read the data. Four layers of dots can be etched on a storage module that is 0.8 in. square and 0.8 in. thick.
“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 told Agence France-Presse.
The quartz is chemical resistant, radiation resistant, and unaffected by radio waves. Right now, the quartz solution can only store 40MB of data per square inch (compared to 1TB per square inch on a traditional hard drive), and it’s costly. But the company claims it can bring a solution to market by 2015, and is initially targeting long-term storage of “cultural information” and other data.