We’ve seen it in the films and on the shows, but now ‘storage crystals’ may very well be possible. Hitachi has produced a long term storage medium out of quartz glass slides that they claim can survive any doomsday event and keep the data stored on them for tens of millions of years.
Announcing the brand-new storage medium in Tokyo last week, the technology uses precision lasers to etch binary code onto individual layers of the crystal. The data can later be ‘read’ using an optical microscope, side-by-side with software capable of deciphering the code. With common hard drive life expectancies more often than not measured in single-digit years, the boast coming from Hitachi that this technology could preserve data for “millions” of years makes this a truly staggering feat, and one that will make quartz glass an ideal candidate to store some of the world’s most important historical and cultural data.
Releasing data from several stress tests, Hitachi announced the technology last week in Tokyo and reported tests that showed a square of quartz glass can survive continuous heat levels of about 1000 degrees for a couple of hours and still remain functional. Put it this way: this new storage medium has been built to last. The only down side at this moment in time is storage capacity. With a multi-layered piece of quartz glass maxing out at around 40Mb per square inch, so far the glass has a storage density comparable only to a standard CD-R.
So we’re a little way off pulling colourful crystals out of a computer core, but it’s not to say there isn’t a room to improve. Hitachi insists the technology could be ready to hit market as soon as 2015.