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Sony optical disk archive

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Sony optical disk archive

Sony is pushing a new optical disk archive system with 12-disks stacked in a cartridge offering up to 1.5TB cartridge capacity. Does it have any chance of success?

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FAIL

Sony's Optical-Disk Retread

With 2TB hard drives on desktops for a couple of years, now, why would anyone want to waste time with an undersized, clunky, too-late-to-the-party, proprietary 1.5TB cartridge likely to be as expensive as three similarly sized hard drives?

This looks like some weird, unnecessary boxing of extant, low-capacity media. Where is the cool invention, here?

SONY has been killing itself softly, for years. A non-proprietary 10TB cartridge reasonably priced and not as thick as the OED would be worth considering. This latest offering is ridiculous.

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Boffin

Re: Sony's Optical-Disk Retread

The clue here is in where it was announced: The National Association of Broadcasters show. This product is designed for long-term archive of large items (such as films and television programmes) rather than a for off-line storage for normal IT users. The companies buying products like this are far more interested in how likely they are to be able to retrieve the contents in tens (or even hundreds - seriously) of years down the line than in cost per GB or speed.

If Sony can show that the contents will last for two or three times as long as tape or hard-drive, and that degradation or damage can be reversed more easily, then this may sell well. I work with some of the groups that develop archiving systems and it is a different world. The sort of thing that you might expect to find in a modern archiving system (but nor your standard disc store) is the ability to periodically scan the media for early signs of degradation and copy the contents to a new cartridge before errors happen. I see this being easier with optical media than magnetic - but I may be wrong.

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Stop

Tick-tock, SONY. Ready the product's eulogy.

I dream of such a long-term, large-capacity, upgradeable archival product that I can hold in my hand, but I am slapped back to reality by all those supposedly future-proof vendor solutions that have vaporized over the years. It doesn't matter how long the optical medium lasts, if the company who makes the proprietary hardware and read/write algorithms goes belly up!

Look at the format and company consolidation (read: savage knifings) in the optical and tape industries, in just the last few years: Optical storage is as dead as "Playboy" magazine, and tape storage is relegated to the microcosm of mainframes. With data de-duplication and "clouds" moving in, the archivist will likely no longer buy one vendor's proprietary storage hardware and media but instead let the cloud purveyor provide redundant storage in the most cost-effective solution of the day.

From NASA tapes of the 60s for which there are no readers to LaserDisc players of the 70s for which there are no new LP-sized media, experience has shown that the successful archivist is forever stuck with using a solution for a short number of years and then copying all of his content to the next one destined to die. In the 80s, I was appalled, one day, at the sight of giant, heavy, expensive disc packs and their washing-machine-sized readers that lay discarded outside of General Electric, but I subsequently accepted that there would be no upgrade by that vendor: Time had moved forward, and that solution was dead, dead, dead!

Tick-tock, SONY. Ready the product's eulogy.

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Anonymous Coward

Is anything going to become cheaper, more dependable *and* better to access or than a hdd, or an array of them?

Probably not a box of bluray discs. Probably not anything.

If I can buy a 2or 3TB hdd for £50 (lets imagine there'd been no floods), I'd need a couple of those cartridges to get the same capacity. But the cartridges are probably going to be more than £25 a pop.

HDDs will get bigger and so will the cartridges, but the relative prices will likely stay in the same ballpark.

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Anonymous Coward

Sony has a pretty good track record of both commercial and consumer storage formats.

Sony was the major player in Floppy disks, CD, DVD and Blu-Ray, Betacam was the format of choice for the last 20 years for commercial video.

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I like it

This caters for alot of area's were a single blueray disc isn't enough. Though it needs to compete with external HD's, so the price of those cartridges has to realy start hitting that sub £50 mark and idealy be around the £20 for me personaly to get excited. Though a quick look gave me the ballpark of 1Tb blueray storage disc wise in the region of £70. Which when you look at the cost of external HD's (even USB3 ones that appear to be the staple thesedays) you start to feel that whilst a great idea, may be plagued by the marketing prowness of the minidiscs that had so much potentual beyond there use. Now I also feel the price of blank bluerays could and should be alot lower and I hope that sony takes the approach to sell the cartridges at cost, just to get this type of product out there, knowing that the costs of the blank discs are only going to get cheaper now that blueray burners are starting to become cost viable alternatives to dvd burner's. It's just that the media prices mean alot are used as readers mostly with the token blueray blank that may get used one day and a pile of blank dvd's that get used mostly.

I'm not sure if i missed this but I have to wonder as to why they didn't just add a HD into it, just to buffer the write/backup speed from the computer to the backup. Though it doesn't stop you using this to backup any backups you have done to HD. Though still be easier and add very little the cost, whilst making it a more versitile product.

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Devil

Sony proprietary formats

It's like they're not at all interested in improving their image as the purveyor of stuff that doesn't work with your other stuff.

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Headmaster

Re: Sony proprietary formats

Like you said, it's just an image problem, the reality is, Sony have delivered some of the biggest and most commonly used formats going, but the braindead idiots here will always focus on what they want to think.

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jukebox?

So Sony invented a blu-ray jukebox?

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Silver badge

A few things yet unknown to us, but:

Depending upon how the discs are retained inside the cartridge, it could be a tougher, more shock resistant package than a harddisk, far better suited to offsite archives or sending to partners.

Once archived, optical disks give you resilience against floods, shocks, and strange magnetic fields.

I would imagine that they will be manufactured with the same scratch-proofing as Blu-Rays, if only because they will be manufactured on the same line; a knocked read-head might not be a complete disaster (XBOX 360- I'm looking at YOU).

All plus points if they can be made cheaply enough... they could easily be made for far less than a HDD- just compare the components each contains!

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Round-up

Having a disk buffer in the drive or in a library looks a great idea to increase write speed. MIght be useful as a read cache if repetitive data reads happen. The pricing is going to be key as is the longevity and integrity of the disks. Sony has a great track record but has also produced some flops and also and - remember AIT and SuperAIT tape?

If it can array this technology into useful products sold to customers with access to an ecosystem of supporting software and applications then it might succeed.

Good luck Mr Sony.

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Meh

Would be nice if the disks *were* Blu-rays

If this is long-term archiving, then one of the big challenges is reading the archive in a few decades' time.

The most likely problem over the long-term is that the disks degrade, but let's be nice and assume they don't.

The number two problem is that you'd need to find a working Sony drive to read the disk cartridges.

But if the disks are actual Blu-Rays, then you'll be able to crack the cartridge open and drop the disks into a standard BD-ROM drive, which are being manufactured in the millions at the moment, and there's a pretty good shot at there still being a functional one in a few decades' time when you need it.

Of course, that also means that the format has to be such that you can stitch together the content of the drives without fancy Sony software/firmware that no longer exists in 2050, which seems unlikely to me, but you never know, Sony might actually be thinking about this sort of thing.

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Anonymous Coward

optical disk archive?

it looks an out-of-date design? . In terms of ease-to-keep, storage size, speed, price, user can have better options!

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The challenges in archiving data are unique, so perhaps there is a market there. But on the surface, it seems like disks have a number of advantages (price and capacity trends, always online, etc.) that would make them preferable. There are plenty of file systems (e.g., ZFS) that can continuously monitor for bit rot to address the concerns about physical media degradation.

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Long term...

As several people above have commented, I think the key goal here is LONG TERM archive. The caddy system may be Sony-proprietary but the discs themselves are standard ISO Blu-ray images, so even if Sony as a company are long gone 50 years from now it should hopefully still be possible to find a drive that plays the individual discs, just as any computer today can still read audio CDs using a 30 year old standard. Or so the theory goes.

Perhaps in 50 years time we'll all be using quantum holographic cubes or something, and the only place to find a spinning platter (or tape!) of ANY kind will be in a museum, but until then I guess a system such as this has as good a chance as any of succeeding as a reasonably long term archive.

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Re: Long term...

It's a good point Rolf. Let's hope the Sony optical archive system is Blu-ray and not some cunning but ill-chosen variation.

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Archiving on HDD needs a rethink

The success may depend on the reliability. Current error rates on HDDs at one per approximately 100TBs written is starting to concern some larger users. Other archiving technologies require a data migration project every 5-8 years which in my experience are expensive projects that tend to be pushed out as long as possible. If the messaging is right and the archiving specs are solid then this format can stand a chance seeing that other optical formats have fallen by the wayside.

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