Sony, Panasonic May Partner To Develop NextGen Optical Discs
July 29, 2013

Sony, Panasonic May Partner To Develop NextGen Optical Discs

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

While many companies see the cloud as the future for archival storage, that isn't stopping Sony and Panasonic from developing what will likely be the next standard for local storage on a disc-based system. On Monday the two companies announced that they have signed a basic agreement with the objective of jointly developing a next-generation standard for professional-use optical discs.

This technology would expand their respective archive business for long-term digital data storage, and the partnership aims to improve the development efficiency based on the technologies held by each company.

"Optical discs have excellent properties to protect them against the environment, such as dust-resistance and water-resistance, and can also withstand changes in temperature and humidity when stored," Sony and Panasonic said in a joint press release. "They also allow inter-generational compatibility between different formats, ensuring that data can continue to be read even as formats evolve. This makes them a robust medium for long-term storage of content."

The two companies are targeting businesses that require archival storage and this includes motion picture, broadcasting and even cloud service industries.

The goal of the two companies is to develop an optical disc with a recording capacity of at least 300GB by the end of 2015. This could be an ambitious goal given that current Blu-ray discs offer 25GB of storage on a single layer disc, and 50GB on a dual-layer.

It is also quite a leap from the 700MB of the original CD-ROM, a technology Sony developed with Philips in the early 1980s. Panasonic, then operating as Matsushita Electric, had worked with Toshiba to develop what would go on to become the DVD specification in the 1990s.

Moreover this partnership could look to avoid a costly format war, such as the one that took place a decade ago when Toshiba and NEC began development of a next-generation optical disc format that went on to become HD DVD, while Sony began work on an Ultra Density Optical (UDO), blue-laser optical disc that became Blu-ray. In the end, Blu-ray had more backing from consumer electronics makers and movie studios and beat out the rival HD DVD format.

Both Sony and Panasonic have shown a proven track record in the development of Blu-ray Disc format technologies.

Panasonic had adopted a newly-developed changer system that together with RAID technologies has the promise to offer rapid data transfer performance of up to 216MB/s, while this year the company launched its LB-DM9 series of optical disc storage devices. This system utilizes a dedicated magazine of just 20.8mm thickness to house 12 100GB optical discs.

Sony has also developed new optical disc storage systems, including its XDCAM series of professional broadcasting products, which houses 12 optical discs within a compact cartridge as a single storage solution. This can offer a range of storage capacities ranging from 300GB to 1.5TB.

However, the long term solution would be a disc that would provide as much as 300GB.

While the technology is now being aimed at archival solutions and long-term storage, it has the potential to see consumer applications, especially as UltraHDTV -- formerly known as 4K -- to start taking off with some early adopters. These sets offer four times the resolution of current HDTV sets, meaning that Blu-ray discs can only offer so much storage capacity for this next generation of video.

300GB optical discs would certainly seem to be the thing to go with UltraHDTV.