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back to article Startup crafts DVD-Rs for the 31st century

A US startup has developed a new DVD-R technology that it claims will be readable for 1,000 years. Millenniata's tag line is "Write Once, Read Forever" - and if forever can be defined as 40 generations, that's exactly what its Millennial Disc Series promises. Millenniata president and CEO Henry O'Connell told The Reg that the …

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FAIL

Where will you find a DVD player in 1000 years?

...or in 50 years, for that matter?

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If it is carbon/carbon it is not hype

If it is carbon/carbon the 1000 years may in fact be a lower bound estimate.

Also, one of the largest cost factors in media upkeep is the climate control for the storage. You still have to pay for that with the other long term systems while this one does away with it. As a result it is likely to pay for itself much faster than expected.

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Go

Advertising to geeks and nerds should be easy

"Write Once, Read Forever", or WORF.

Michael Dorn, you may just have a career again.

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Doomsday

I rem that attached to the bbc master back in 1990 when i was at seconadary school.

And the nice large 12inch frisbies/ laser disks

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@ Ian Chard

Very true, but I think thats missing the point, we will always know how to make DVD players, even if they are not in widespread use, so if the data needs to be read, we can just build a dvd player and read it.

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WTF?

26 Petabytes?

Makes DVD-Rs seem a bit paltry. Has this company given thought to improving their tech to use the higher-density BD standard? And are these long-life DVDs dual-layer?

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@Tom 101

Sure, tell that to the NASA historians trying to recover potentially lost telemetry data from ancient tapes, stored in a format no longer supported by any reader--while the obsolete readers have been either dumped long ago, or no longer function.

-dZ.

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Stop

Clever marketing...

After all, if they fail in 100 years, that CEO won't be around to take the flack!

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Stop

@ Ian : DVD player in 50 years

Considering that CD-ROM has been around for almost 30 YEARS already, and that all DVD players and now BlueRay players will play both DVD and CD-ROM discs. I think it is pretty safe to assume that with all the data that is stored in these formats currently that a KEY aspect of any replacement technology going forward will be backwards compatibility.

Now 150 or 1000 years from now? Archival institutions would be wise to build a "time capsule" storage room that contained a dozen computers (or more) each with dual DVD readers.

The greatest thing about this technology is the fact that it can be read and restored by ANY DVD drive - yes there have been similar solutions

Oh and BTW if you are rich and deciding to get this for all your great family photos and porn collection.... DON'T! please don't be an ass:

Just go out and get the GOLD discs for your existing DVD burner, and donate the $2k difference to your favorite local children's charity.

Library of Congress and similar are the only people who could justify 1000 years over 100.

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Paris Hilton

just build it and read

Sounds so simple. Until you try reading all the old 7-track and 9-track tapes, the metal tapes, the paper tapes, etc., that have been created over the years. Who even keeps track of all the specialized formats that were in use to know what each bit on that media even meant... originally. Never mind now; now that the engineering plans are gone; now that the blueprints are gone; now that the fabs that created the devices are gone; now that the parts that were used back when are gone.

It's easy to assume (yes, ass-u-me) that the mechanism will be easily recreatable in 500 years (or more unlikely, still be in use and easily found); but i seriously doubt it. In 500 years we will probably lost most of our books in libraries as they aren't on acid free paper and binding. I would love to think that these would last 1000 years and be still readable; but i have my doubts.

She'll be gone and forgotten in 500 years.

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Missing the point

Given the rate at which storage increases, why would anyone want to keep such media for so long. Does anyone know of anywhere containing a massive archive of 5.25in disks? cheaper to move it onto a DVD and sell the space as a car park.

I can see some point to this, but I think it's more niche than is being made out (maybe useful for those time capsules schoolchildren bury).

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All very well, but DVD-R for long term storage?

You'd have to be a muppet to use DVD-R for anything long term if the lifetime is that short - use tape with a much larger capacity.

On the other hand, this indicates there are '500' year bluray discs : http://spiedl.aip.org/getabs/servlet/GetabsServlet?prog=normal&id=PSISDG00628200000162822F000001&idtype=cvips&gifs=yes

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Title: "$2500"

Well for brand new tech for a media that will last for over 1000 years, I don't think $2500 is particularly a lot of money.

These data storage organizations will snap them up faster than they can make them I suspect.

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Dead Vulture

Forget reading the disc...

Forget reading the disc, in 1000 years will programs exist to even decode the data?

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Boffin

Where can you find the Great Old Ones?

Who even keeps track of all the specialized formats that were in use to know what each bit on that media even meant... ?

alt.folklore.computer

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Coat

What? No environmentalist jokes...

...about carbon sequestration? Feh!

(Mine's the one with the pocket full of sooty bits.)

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Alien

You've got to Star Trek it

You've got to do what they always do on the sci-fi shows; build a self-contained geothermal/solar/nuclear/zedPM/crystalline powered time capsule room. Preferably with spooky lighting and a big red lever to power up the real lighting and all the monitors and so forth. Then you need big pictograms with arrows that visually tell the aliens to "PUT THIS ROUND SHINY THING INTO THIS HOLE" and it automatically starts playing back videos of world history sufficient for the viewer to realize "Oh, that's why they all went extinct".

If Doctor Who can do it why can't you!

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FAIL

Stone age

CD-Rs for archiving? Who wants warehouses full of CDs?

It happened to stone tablets, parchment, paper, and floppies. How many stone tablets and parchments are still around? Virtually none. The cost of storing an ever increasing amount of media becomes too great and the media gets thrown out on the next budget crisis. If you want to keep data forever, it needs to be on a highly redundant storage system that's regularly maintained and upgraded to improve its density. There's no other way to maintain a growing archive for very long time periods.

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Anonymous Coward

Alternative then???

fine people coming on here and saying. ha ha, it will be unreadable in 50,100,1000 years. Maybe they would like to suggest what technology currently available would not possibly fall foul of the same problem. Given where we are at the moment DVD writing is as future proof as we have. Its not perfect, you can pick holes in its future readability but please, pray tell, what is a better alternative given this stuff has to be stored??

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J 3
Joke

Eh?

Who started the testing on this, Beowulf?

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Medium isn't the problem

From vague articles, docs I've read in the past, the biggest problem is likely to be format.

What's a doc file? What's a jpeg? Or worse, what format's that RAW file in? Standards people.

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Pint

No Thanks

I only need my Pr0n collection for 20-30 years more, tops. By then they'll have something much, much better or I'll need tons of Viagra ;-p

Beer, it's what fills you up.

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FAIL

Nice marketing, failure in practice...

If we look at the bigger picture, the point isnt that the disk would be readable in 1000 years, but that as long as the DVD format exists and the hardware exists, the data only has to be written once.

That is, if you create a disk on the DVD format, for the next 10 years or so while that format is used, the data doesn't have to be rewritten.

Its a failure because if you ran the numbers, even if the data has to be remastered on to a new DVD every 4 years or so, its still cheaper to do that than to buy these drives and media.

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FAIL

Yeah right...

...it's all good until someone scratches the disc. Oops!

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Anonymous Coward

Oh really, no environmental concerns?

"There are no environmental concerns we've identified at this point,"

[Dr. Evil voice]:

Oh really, Mr. O'Connell? Then surely you won't mind when I dip your precious disks in red hot magma. Bwahhh ha ha ha haaaa!

(need a Dr. Evil pinkie to mouth icon)

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WTF?

Not again!

I seem to remeber quite a few Silicon Valley startups touting stuff like this way back int he mid eighties, "store your stuff forever". I seem to remeber that being said for daat on Laserdisc. Anyone remember the hard work that had to be done to rescue all that Doomsday stuff stored LD attached to a BBC micro? Took a group of people something like 3 months of work scrounging and foraging for parts and knowledge to get it all back and that was only 25 years old!!!

You want to save it forever? Stick it on paper or on a wall! I think the Egyptians would have some valid comments on how to store data for a very long time!

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Software, folks

I suspect that a jpeg, GIF, or PNG will still be decipherable as long as we don't pass through another dark age (See "Canticle for Liebowitz"), as these are documented standards. But the muppets I work for put everything in Powerpoint, Word, and Excel files. Heck, if the MSFT steamroller OOXML "standard" is any indication, even MSFT don't know how to read 20-year old MSFT docs. Not without their own source code, possibly compiled by their own compiler.

What happens when, 100 years hence, the only way to read your disc is (would have been) with an emulated antique computer that just bricked itself when WGA couldn't validate your license because the IPV9 to IPV4 tunnel is down (and Redmond is under water :-)

(Before the Open Office fanbois jump up, yeah, they do better than MSFT at reading old MSFT docs, but only in the sense that a blind man with a dog can beat a blind man without)

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Snake oil

I've been working with recordable media for 20 years and I've heard hundreds of claims like this and all of them are little more than speculation. When commercially pressed CDs were first marketed they were touted to last 100 years, currently I have pressed CD-ROMs of only 10 years of age that are completely unreadable. The fatal flaw in all optical discs is the layered construction, an acrylic layer, a dye layer, a foil layer, and a lacquer layer. No matter what the dye layer is made of the layers will eventually seperate due to various chemical processes, and if that doesn't happen over very long periods (30+ years) then eventually even the most durable layer, the acrylic, will warp, yellow or become opaque. Most of the long term studies I've read recommend tape storage as the most reliable method of archiving massive amounts of very important data. I use DDS on my workstation to archive photos because it scales well, and offers the best reliability for the price. Unfortunately, tape isn't the best option for every situation, storing 26PB of data on 170,393 160GB DDS cartridges would be a nightmare, but probably not as bad as writing 6,224,423 single layer DVDs. However, if one must use DVDs, the best option I've come across so far is Mobile Fidelity's 24K gold Ultra Discs, the price is a lot better at $4.99 each and they can be read or written on any extant CD/DVD-R drive and (based solely on my experiences) tend to hold up much better than store bought media.

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Alien

A good use for the moon?

1. dig big hole

2. rsysnc all the data up there to a nuclear / solar powered computer system.

3. Do a has been done make a 12" disk out of platinum.

4. Draw the plans to naked eye of a microscope.

5. Etch more plans at the microscopic level to describe the building of an electron microscope

6. On reverese etch lots of useful stuff like how to get to the moon at the electron level.

Because if mankind has toatlly lost the abilty in the future to do this I would not worry about all the history and other guff as it will be pretty irrelevant.

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FAIL

In 1000 years time, we will know how to build a DVD player

... cos the plans are all archived on 1000-year DVDs!

Oh, wait a minute...

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Pint

Oh Good Idea

In 1,000 years you'll need a special degree to be able to "read" the things. Something similar to those capable of reading Egyptian tomb writing. But, we all need a reason to exist and making the world's longest surviving optical disk is one path to take.

Of course in 1,000 years all data will be fed directly to the brain so all things "optical" will be obsolete which means mechanical optical readers will likewise be obsolete.

All this assumes there is a human race in 1,000 years. We keep trying to force extinction upon ourselves and by then may have finally succeeded.

"in the year 2525 ......", Zager and Evans

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Paris Hilton

Human backup

Why not use the tried and true:

Oral tradition

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Bronze badge

nice idea

but atm i am currently looking for DOS 2.0 and cant even find that !!

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Possibly good idea, stupid implementation

There are a two killer problems I see with this product:

Problem 1 -- DVD? Seriously? As in 4.7GB (4.3GB usable) single-layer, 9.4GB dual-layer? That's not even good enough for archival usage today, nevermind in the years to come. That's not even good enough for home-use backup/archival today, nevermind corporate use.

Problem 2 -- As the second page of the article opened with, but was never answered -- "Readable by what?" Some of the early commenters here use their own assumptions about the future as the basis for the product's usability. Comments such as "[W]e will always know how to make DVD players, even if they are not in widespread use, so if the data needs to be read, we can just build a dvd player and read it." are so absurd, it's laughable. If you honestly believe that, then find me someone with the knowledge and ability to build a drive to read an 8" floppy or a MFM/RLL hard drive. I'll make it easier for you -- go to Texas Instruments and find out how to build a device to read the data stored on magnetic audio cassette tapes by the TI 99/4A.

Note that in those three examples, I'm only talking about technology that was created within the past 30 years or so. Do you really think anyone will know how to make a drive to read an 8-inch floppy disk, an 8-track audio tape, or a QIC-40 data tape fifty years from now? Commenter Rob Dobs said:

"Considering that CD-ROM has been around for almost 30 YEARS already, and that all DVD players and now BlueRay players will play both DVD and CD-ROM discs. I think it is pretty safe to assume that with all the data that is stored in these formats currently that a KEY aspect of any replacement technology going forward will be backwards compatibility."

Actually, CD-ROM (High Sierra, ECMA-119 / ISO 9660, Yellow Book) only dates back to 1986, so it's only 23 years old. Regardless, how you can be so naive as to assume that future technology will be backwards-compatible with CD/DVD-ROM? Do you actually expect that a future-made 5PB reader/writer will be backwards-compatible with a 700MB CD-ROM or a 9.4GB DVD-ROM? If you do, then you're delusional.

Products made today don't even read data from previous generations in their own families. For example, look at the Quantum DAT 160 (DDS family) tape drive. It only reads DAT 72 and DDS-4 (not DDS-3, DDS-2, or DDS-1). Similarly, the LTO-4 drive does not read LTO-1 media. Likewise, the SDLT 600 drive does not read DLTtape IV or earlier generation media. If these drives can't even read the media from previous-generation drives in their own families, what makes you think a future-technology drive will be able to read CD-ROM and DVD-ROM discs?

Let's not forget that when reading these discs in the future, in addition to physically reading the discs, you'll also need to be able to parse the information. In other words, you'll need to understand the file system. In the case of CD-ROM, that means High Sierra, ECMA-119/ISO-9660, UDF, and Joliet at the very least. I'm not sure if the DVD format supports multiple file systems. While we're at it, let's not forget that you'll also need the decryption software if you've encrypted your discs. You *DO* still have that TPM module from the computer you disposed of 900 years ago, right?

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Grenade

Sod it.

Just get a big frickin' laser and etch all the really important stuff you want to keep onto the surface of the moon.

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Anonymous Coward

In 1000 years ...

probably far less ... the time we live in now will appear as a dark age. There will be so much data digitally stored in formats that no one will be able to access. They will have no clue where to start.

Billions of records of life now that in the past would have been on paper (photographs, letters, books, etc) painstakingly curated will simply not exist.

I find it ironic that its possible to look at life 100 or 150 years ago in a photograph or movie reel or read a 2000 year old diary written by a Roman and know nothing of this time will be preserved in the far digital future in a similar way.

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One for the archaeologists

As an ex-archaeologist I can tell you exactly what'll happen to the discs. When the future underwater archaeologists recover the eroded cabinet full of shiny round things from the ruined, flooded remnants of a once great city, they'll sit, stroke their beards and have a conversation something like this.

"What do you think those were for?"

"Dunno, perhaps you looked through the hole in the middle at solstice time."

"That's a rubbish idea."

"Yeah, well, definitely religious though."

"I like that, let's call them unknown artefacts for ritual purposes."

"OK, write it up - oh, do it on paper, we want the report to last you know"

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Happy

Domesday book - I was in it!

We had a thing at school (I would have been 7 or 8) where we had to write a piece about our local area. Somehow my deliberation on the best places to ride a bike around Ayr was submitted and I ended up in it.

Not that my school ever got a copy of the disks, but I did get a very nice letter read out at assembly.

I'd like to think that in a few thousands years some traveller from a far ff planet will find a copy and ponder the best places to ride a BMX in and around Ayr :)

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Rob
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Boffin

Future revenue for my kids

I think I'll set up a fortune for my future generations by collecting as many recording media devices of different types now and store them safely.

The future generations can then rent them out to people who need stuff in the above scenarios. I'm off to a poor start though, only got a walkman and a VHS machine (the betamax recorder got thrown out accidentally on the last move according to my wife (highly suspicious but no evidence to prove otherwise, investigation continues)).

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Anonymous Coward

SSDs?

Do SSDs degrade?

I mean, if you were to write the data once then disconnect the SDD and put it in storage, how long could you expect it to last?

Who the hell is going to be storing petabytes of information on discs that only hold 4.7GB?

And talk about slow transfer speeds.

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BBC doomsday

The BBC doomsday project is always trotted out as an example of digital obsolescence, but it's not a very good one.

The whole project could easily be moved onto some other hardware and the original hardware emulated. The reason it hasn't been is not technical, it's legal and financial. Copyright in all that data was never assigned to the project and rests with the contributors.

http://www.si.umich.edu/CAMILEON/domesday/ipr.html

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@ Adam 52

Interesting, I wonder who holds the copyright on my piece, given that I was so young and that my parents cannot recall ever having a letter home regarding my contribution.

Perhaps the local council, as the authority running the school, would hold it?

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@Adam 52

Hopefully in 1000 years, Lawyers will have been made illegal...

Then again, given the way patents are issued these days, I imagine the entire planet populated by lawyers, nobody produces anything new, and they spend their days issuing counter suits to each other...

In this light, maybe DVD will still be a known media format!

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@itbod

I second this motion

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Missed points

The article made the comparison with Gold DVDs as if it was the gold being written on. It's not. the gold serves to reflect the beam and works better than silver which tends to oxidize over time. Regardless, the data is still being written on a very temporary substrate that has a life expectancy of 5 to 7 years. The Milleniata solution, while really not practical for 100 years or more given the forward march of technology, certainly provides a "solid" solution for a more error-free and longer lasting inexpensive archival medium. So do we send our data to them to burn? How does one take advantage of this technology without spending $2500 for the drive?

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Coat

anyone seen the alligator?

>"There are no environmental concerns we've identified at this point,"

where's me steamroller got to?

Is it near the drop hammer?

Meteorite anybody?

Mine's the one with the aerosol of hydrofluric acid in what's left of the pocket.

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Paris Hilton

@scrubber

Why not use the tried and true: Oral tradition

I tried. She wasn't having none of it.

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