Optware Corp. has received funding that will enable it to complete development of its holographic storage technology, and is on course to release commercial samples of read/write drives in the final three months of 2005, the company said Tuesday.
Optware has received ¥360 million ($3.3 million) in funding from six companies, including Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. and Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd. The money will enable it to develop key devices for its holographic memory system, the company said in a news release last week.
The other companies were CMC Magnetics Corp., Marubeni Corp., Pulstec Industrial Co. Ltd. and Toagosei Co., Ltd.
Optware is developing a technology that enables the storage of between 200GB and 1TB of data, with data transmission speeds of 100Mbps to 1Gbps on discs that are the same diameter as today's CDs and DVDs.
The company is not disclosing how much each company has invested, according to Yasuhide Kageyama manager of business development and marketing at Optware.
Since it was founded in 1999, the company has received about $28.5 million in funding from various sources, including the Japanese government, according to data supplied by Optware.
The latest funding announced last week will help the company develop devices specifically for Optware's technology. Until now, the company has been developing its systems using commercially available components, said Optware President and Chief Executive Officer Yoshio Aoki.
"We have to develop customized key components," said Aoki. "In the past, we just used off-the-shelf components. It's very critical for us."
This August, Optware said it achieved the world's first reliable recording and playback of digital movies on a holographic recording disc using its so-called Collinear Holographic Data Storage System.
This system uses a green laser to read holographic data on a 12-centimeter disc. Light from the green laser is split into two beams, with data to be recorded encoded onto one of the beams, while the other beam is used as a reference. The two beams interfere with each other inside the disc's recording layer and in this way data is stored.
Below the recording layer is another layer containing a pattern used to guide the read-write head. A red laser reads tracking information from the pattern to locate where the head is in relation to the disc.
Optware intends to have an engineering prototype of the read/write drive ready by next June, according to Aoki.
"It will be a little bit bigger than the commercial prototypes," he said in an interview. "Some PC boards will be outside the drive, but it will look a little like the real thing."
The first customer shipments for the enterprise market will be available in 2006. Optware's first products will be the reader/writer devices and 200GB HVDs (Holographic Versatile Discs) for enterprise users. Drives for this market will cost about $25,000 to $30,000. The 200GB HVDs have a target cost of about $100 per disc or lower, according to Aoki.
Much less expensive consumer versions could be on the market as soon as 2007. The company expects a mass market to develop from 2008. Drives for home users will cost about ¥300,000, about the same as today's Blu-ray Disc players.
The company estimates that HVD storage will cost about 50 cents per gigabyte of storage capacity when the system is first sold to enterprises, to as low as 20 cents per gigabyte if and when HVDs become popular.
Optware will not disclose which companies are considering making the read/write drives.