back to article New DVD discs claim 1,000 year life

The recording surface of Millenniata's M-DISC is virtually indestructible. The company claims that its DVD drive–readable discs will last for ... wait for it ... 1,000 years. That's what the Provo, Utah, firm says, anyway. The deal is that the disc has a different recording medium and method than the lasers and dyes used by …

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  1. Fuzz

    capacity

    "Millenniata says it can store three hours of video, 1,200 photos, or 100,000 documents, which might mean anywhere in the 20 to 50GB range."

    Nope, 1200 photos, three hours of video, sounds like a standard 4.7GB DVD to me.

    1. Lance 3

      Capacity

      Hours means nothing in terms of capacity. I could fit three hours of video on a CD. Nothing says it is high quality. The bit rate is what matters.

      Look at HD; it deals more with resolution and not bit rate. If you take a 1080 uncompressed feed, you won't get an hour of it on any Blu-Ray disc. An hour of uncompressed 1080 is 834GB.

      Some cameras are capable of producing 138MB images. 138MB x 1200 = 165,000MB or 165GB.

      Given that they call it a DVD, yes it is 4.7GB unless it is a dual layer disc. Regardless, they are limited to what a DVD reader can read and thus, 4.7GB on a single layer disc.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    The recording industry will have you shutdown in an instant my friends!

    What, you mean people won't be buying replacement discs when theirs go wrong after a few years? We can't have that!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meh

    Still not as long lived as paper and at least you will still be able to read that paper in a 1000 years

  4. Cliff

    Money back

    if in 1000 years you cannot read your disc*

    (*guarantee period exactly 1000 years, premature redemption not allowed. Non-transferrable)

    ;-)

  5. Tzael

    Dive by 10, or 100?

    Given the supposed longevity of the original CDs and DVDs, should we just divide the supposed lifetime by 10 to get a more realistic figure?

    1. LaeMing Silver badge
      Happy

      Except

      Stamped media (such as the recording indurtry generally sells) lasts even longer (if looked after). Their problem will be with all the downloaded rip disks lasting longer.

    2. LaeMing Silver badge

      Depends a bit on the tech used, too.

      The 3-5 years quoted for current recordable media is worst-case with the cheapest crappiest media you can lay hands on (though since that is what most people buy, I won't call shinanigans on the figure). Decent media lasts around 5-7 years for re-writable and 10-15 for write-once, in my experience. You can also get quite expensive 'archival grade' media with dyes guarenteed for 50 years, but try convincing the bean-counters to foot that bill - though asking them to recover a 10yo record from optical archives may convince them!

      I very much want one of these myself, but doubt I could really justify the cost for my occasional usage. Fortunately my manager at work was discussing issues of HDD vs Optical archiving with me yesterday and we certainly could justify one (or three) at work, and I am happy to pay for my own media if I can use the drives at work to burn them.

    3. Steven Roper

      In most cases, you won't

      The most common kind of book, the pulp paperback, won't last 100 years, let alone 1000. Most book paper contains sulphates which react with moisture in the atmosphere to form sulphuric acid, which breaks down the paper fibres. This is why book paper turns brown over time - the brown is the sulphuric acid impregnating and corroding the paper.

      I have several much-loved paperbacks from my childhood; the oldest one, a copy of Enid Blyton's "Five Fall Into Adventure", dates back to 1974. Its pages are quite brown with age and the paper is already starting to crumble in places - and this is a book that is 37 years old. It'll crumble to dust in the next 20-30 years at the very outside, most likely sooner.

      So paper isn't the enduring storage medium you might think it is. Parchment or papyrus maybe, but we have yet to invent anything that will outlast the good old carved stone tablet. ;)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      Unless it is a till receipt or card payment slip

      Which you need as proof of purchase for your warranty claim, but which will have faded to blank paper four months before the warranty expires.

    5. P Saunders

      Weren't CDs supposed to be "indestructible"

      I remember seeing them being touted as capable of playing music clearly even though they were scratched and caked in dirt. Willing to be these babies are about as "long lived"

      1. Steve K Silver badge
        Boffin

        Tomorrow's World

        I remember Tomorrow's World in 1983 or so where Judith Hann showed how you can put jam (or maybe marmalade, but I digress) on the top of a CD and still play it.

        Great marketing for the CD format and technology, but failing to notice that it was actually read from underneath......

  6. Paul McClure

    Nothing like hype to sell a product.

    "Although the discs could last 1,000 years, if Millenniata's modelling is right, whether DVD drives will still be around then is another question. Excuse me, but I have a stack of punch cards. Does anyone have a punch card reader...?"

    Exactly.

    I recall the purveyors of DVD and Bluray describing a life span greater than five years. Were they hyping like this company? I think I have a few DVD's older than that.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Natural Aging

    As I have only deteriorated by about 1% in the last 300 to 350 days, I can confidently expect to live for ten thousand years, then.

    I wish I had a rock-like layer, though.

    Hang on! Doesn't approximately 1% in approximately 1 year mean I'll be lucky to still be around in a mere 100 years?

  9. Niall Mac Caughey

    & the glue?

    The polycarbonate may be long-lasting and the pits may be almost immortal, but what about the glue that holds the layers together?

    How long before that goes nice & yellow?

  10. Anonymous John

    But how long will we be using DVDs?

    They're bound to be replaced by something better long before then.

    1. LaeMing Silver badge
      Happy

      Give me an Arduino and payment for my time developing the device,

      and I will read your punch cards fine. (Technically, learning to read them by eye should be no harder than depyphering any obscure ancient language we still have some references for).

      Poor choice of example, but the point in general is more sound, though, building a crude but working DVD-reading device would be well within the capabilities of any undergrad EE student provided a record of how the thing works is postered on the archive wall somewhere (if there are no EE students by that time, then it is unlikely anyone will really be interested in the disk contents anyway).

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Give me a bunch of transistors

        Like the original readers used...

        1. The Indomitable Gall

          Give me a scanner...

          ... and a nice contrasty backing sheet.

          And there's the reason it will last: new technology will always be hackable to read old technology.

          Looking at the physical burn marks, I imagine this disc won't really care what colour of laser is used to read it, which would make it more future proof than CDs and DVDs, which I'm told aren't colour-compatible with BluRay, meaning current-gen players often need two lasers.

          It may be that in 1000 years (or even just 100!), you read your old discs with a general-purpose laser-scanner or electron microscope, getting a full physical image of the disc (just like scanning punchcards) and then processing this. This would also be a better solution for damaged discs anyway, as the track layout can be recreated so that one damaged block doesn't mangle a whole section of the data.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Windows

      You might be missing the point

      ..storage technology might have moved on but the data could still be stuck on old media. That's kinda the whole point about this article. We probably will be recording HDNSIs (Hyper Definition Neural Streaming Imprints) on SAGECs (Sub Atomic Grid Encoded Cube)s but that's irrelevant if you are hoping to watch 'PARIS Goes Orbital' that your great-great-great-great-great-grandad stored on a DVD.

      Windows icon because Windows will still be around in 1,000 years time :D

    3. Snobol4
      Happy

      Re: Natural Aging → #

      Depends on whether you continue to degrade at 1% of your current state each year - then you'll live for ever !

  11. hurtlebum

    Readable by standard DVD drive?

    I am obviously missing something here, the article says it claims to be readble by normal DVD drives, yet later suggests a storage capacity of 20-50 gigs. Not sure how that works...

  12. Blubster

    Are they

    Offering refunds if they pack in after 500 years?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    3 to 5 years...

    I have DVD-Rs older than that with no signs of degradation, kept in wallets, out of direct sun at room temperature. So were these hypothetical test discs that failed after 3 to 5 years left out in the sun? In a hot room?

    Sounds like another marketing pitch.....

  14. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    That's the big problem

    > Although the discs could last 1,000 years, if Millenniata's modelling is right, whether DVD drives > will still be around then is another question. Excuse me, but I have a stack of punch cards. Does > anyone have a punch card reader...?

    At least with punch cards all you need to read them is an eyeball - deciphering is a little bit messy but still much simpler than Linear B! And punched cards usually had the content printed along the top anyway. But with an MPEG-encoded video written as billions of little pits??? I don't think so. How many people still have the kit around to handle 8in floppies? or 3inch Amstrad WP stiffies? This is a useful step forward, but I think you need to store material in a very simple uncompressed encoding for it to have any chance of being readable in 1000 years!

  15. Bango Skank
    Joke

    .... yes but will there be a drive to read it in ten?

    We went through this same movie with 8" floppies, GCR tape, and countless other technologies that had miracle coatings and whatnot guaranteed for some huge number of years, or "life" (whatever that meant).

    The problem was of course that unlike paper or even fiche that only require a modicum of technology, the others all require great hunks of technology that is almost guaranteed to be unavailable in the near future even if solar radiation doesn't flip the bits until they are a pile of gibberish.

    One can read a clay tablet written in cuneiform that is millenia old, but good luck finding a DVD drive in another twenty.

    The only response to this kind of hype is "bollocks!"

    1. Not That Andrew

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      And I have a 4 year old Win XP install disc, kept in a dark, cool place that is only good as a coaster. And an ancient Win95 disc that spent much time out a desktop that works fine. It varies, but optical discs are only reliable for 5 years.

      1. LaeMing Silver badge
        Boffin

        Media type

        Was the WinXP disk a writable (or even RW, for shorter life still)?

        The Win95 disk was most likely a stamped disk (lasts practically forever).

        A CD is not a CD-R is not a CD-RW, even if they all read on the same drive.

        1. Not That Andrew

          I know the difference

          It was an original disc, direct from Microsoft.

      2. Andus McCoatover
        Windows

        I have a Windows ME disk.

        Unfortunately, it's still readable...

    2. ps2os2
      Happy

      Punch Cards

      I hate to disappoint a lot of you but the larger the data center the more likely it is to have a card reader. Grant you not 1000 cards per minute but a respectable 250 cards a minute.

    3. John Sturdy
      Holmes

      I prefer it this way round

      I'd rather that media last as long as the equipment needed to use them, than expire prematurely. This way, as long as DVD drives are around, you can read the disks. When something else comes along to supercede DVD technology, at least there'll be some warning time when you're aware that it's time to migrate your archived data --- much better than having something on a DVD that you'd forgotten to make a fresh copy of, but turns out to have expired when you try reading it.

    4. TeeCee Gold badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Readable by standard DVD drive?

      Well, it did mention that both DVD and Blu-ray were candidates for this technology.

      I just assumed that a BD would need to be read in a BD drive meself.....

  16. Joe User

    In other words...

    The M-DISC is the digital equivalent of a stone tablet (wrapped in plastic).

  17. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Yeah!

    Sounds good though one has await until confirmation comes in that the marketing chicken has indeed managed to cross the reality road.

    "Does anyone have a punch card reader...?"

    No, but I'm sure one an A-Team could wire one up over the weekend, with pure optical lecture and all. In the future, I would expect that to pull a physical image of the 2000-year-old disk you found behind the plaster wall into memory at 1nm³ voxel size should be possible with your handheld tricorder.

    And then it turns it it contains porn.

    1. LaeMing Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Good point there

      Why build a physical reader when you can 3D-scan the platter and program a 3D image filter to act as as a virtual one?

  18. annodomini2
    Joke

    Title we don't need no stinking title

    Me thinks you'll struggle to fit a disc that thick in a dvd burner! ;)

  19. Martin 71 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Pedantry ahoy!

    We measure 'power draw' in 'watts' not 'volts' :-)

    119v is likely the utilization voltage, meaning 'useless outside north america'

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I call bullshit

    Too many man made materials have claimed long life only to fail well before their advertised end of life. No one can beat nature and their is no monetary incentive to in the capitalistic model. Real fibres made from flax have lasted centuries in pyramids. Synthetic fibres and plastics from the hardware store are shot to hell in only a year and a half to three in use.

    I'll believe it when my cryogenically preserved head is revived 1000 years from now and I see it.

    1. Steven Roper
      Go

      Ah, yes, the Paradox of Plastic

      "Synthetic fibres and plastics from the hardware store are shot to hell in only a year and a half to three in use."

      Yet those same synthetic fibres and plastics will still be clogging up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch 50,000 years from now. Plastic is a weird substance that outlasts plutonium yet somehow becomes useless within the lifespan of an ant.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        IT Angle

        Like carrier bags

        Last week I opened an old drawer under my desk to find it full of a mysterious white shredded substance. Apparently an old Tesco carrier had 'gone biological' all over the inside of the drawer and its contents.

        I suppose it depends on the particular plastic in use. Presumably these DVDs won't be using the same type as Tesco :)

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

      Only to discover that

      Philip J Fry has used it as a coaster.

  21. stucs201
    Thumb Up

    I like the simplicity

    Theres a certain genius is writting discs the way someone without much technical knowledge might assume they're written. Burning holes with lasers FTW.

    1. Raz

      None offered

      That's what's happening with the recordable optical media now. A laser is burning holes in a material, except instead of stone, it's an organic dye. Which dye, sooner or later, rots. Supposedly the stone doesn't. But they may need a laser way more powerful to punch holes in stone.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Evolution?

    Trouble is the armpit bacteria from the PFY will only require 50 years to evolve into micro-organistic M-DISC munchers, less if he keeps using the Lynx. ;-)

  23. Andy Tunnah

    o rly ?

    just to test this out i dug out a dvd i burned in 2002, plays absolutely fine

    LIES, ALL LIES

  24. MacroRodent Silver badge
    Boffin

    Great idea, but not so new

    Maybe not many would not own these devices privately, but I think it would a great business for photo stores to offer to burn customer's shots on these to make archival copies. I know I would use such a service occasionally.

    The concept by the way sounds like the one I read back when I was studying over 20 years ago, and attended a seminar on optical data storage: Some of the earlier laser data disks used a similar process of punching actual holes into a metal foil embedded in the disk, if I remember correctly. These were not DVD:s or even CD:s, but larger proprietary disks used for data archiving. Too bad I cannot find the reference right now. Might be in my dusty study notes in the attic...

    (No doubt that will not prevent M-DISK from getting a patent on this anyway).

  25. Zog The Undeniable
    FAIL

    Pedant alert

    You don't measure a "power draw" in volts.

  26. James Ashton
    Meh

    Disks Last ... Companies Fail

    I wonder how M-DISC is different from Cranberry from 2009. The press release said "DiamondDisc: Stone DVDs Will Last 1,000 Years"; see:

    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/11/diamonddisc-stone-dvds-will-last-1000-years/

    but the company is apparently stone dead in less than two. The similarities of the product are so great that I'm betting the same tech is being re-incarnated at some level. Google finds me:

    http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1257446173.html

    so this is the rebirth of a product that's been around for a while.

    It's a shame something like this is taking so long to come to market. I guess most consumers have no idea just how bad burned optical media really is until they find years of irreplaceable digital photos and movies gone. I found the Cranberry $35 per disc offer tempting but never gave it a try.

  27. JadedIdealist
    Childcatcher

    Small Children.

    It will last 1000 years, or 20 minitues in the hands of a 3 year old.

    The child catcher because - well...

    1. annodomini2

      Re: Small Children

      "20 Minutes" - Optimist I see

  28. TeeCee Gold badge
    Joke

    1000 years from now.....

    "Good thing these last a long time. Right I'll just load it into my 20,000,000x read BD drive."

    <WHIIIIIIIIIIIIIZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ>

    <Sound of disc disintegrating>

  29. Mike Richards

    Oh bloody hell

    The people of the 31st Century will risk the emo equivalent of the Ark of the Covenant when they uncover working copies of the 'Twilight' movies in their archaeological digs. The poor buggers.

  30. wired_retired
    Stop

    I'm waiting for Star Wars on M disks

    Come on George, issue Star Wars on these. Lovely money..!!

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Star Wars, last a thousand years?

      Why heavens no! Then he'd never get the chance to re-edit it and sell it to you again.

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