Digital Storage Enters The Stone Age
By Doug Olenick and John Laposky On Aug 22 2011 - 3:01am
NEW YORK —
Millenniata, a Utah-based optical
media storage company, is reviving the use
of stone as a data-storage medium.
The technology developed by Millenniata allows
for the creation of what it claimed is the
permanent archiving of data on an optical disc.
No, Millenniata is not selling tiny hammers,
chisels and tablets that Fred Flintstone or Barney
Rubble could use, but it has developed a
new layering technique that replaces the standard
dye with a man-made, stone-like substance
that allows a laser to literally etch data
onto what it is calling an M-Disc.
Scott Shumway, Millenniata’s CEO, said the
technique was developed over the past three
years, and he claimed a 1,000-year lifespan for
the data and discs.
“We have engineered out the dye. That is the
reason why there is degradation now. The write
layer is organic, so it will eventually return to its
original organic state, losing the data,” he said,
adding that the discs have been tested for longevity
by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Helping add additional strength is a stronger
glue bond between the plastic and the writable
surface. Currently, the plastic disc has trouble
staying attached to the dye layer because it
is not smooth; however, the stone is much
smoother, helping to create a stronger bond.
The 4x M-Disc is burned to the DVD standard
and is expected to cost less than $3 per disc,
Shumway said. It will also be offered in 10- and
15-packs for $13.89 and $25.59, respectively.
Millenniata is only developing and manufacturing
the discs; it has partnered with Hitachi-
LG Data Storage to make the optical drives.
The first drives and discs will become available
on Sept. 1 through Millenniata’s online store,
with retail shipments beginning in October.
These will sell under the Hitachi-LG brand at
the company’s usual retail partners.
The discs, which are not rewritable, can be
read on any DVD drive, and the drive is a fully
functioning Super Multi Blu-ray drive that can read and write all available optical media, Ted Ha, Hitachi-
LG’s senior manager, told TWICE. A Blu-ray version of the
M-Disc and burner is under development.
The drives are software and firmware upgraded versions
of a current product, Ha said. The software upgrade
increases the laser’s power, enabling it to cut the stone
The changes to the drive are expected to add only a
slight cost to the drives, Ha said.
The partners will offer the technology for license to other
The companies will first test the new format at retail, although
they believe it will gain a great deal of interest from
government, military and corporate customers that need
long-term data storage.
Bundling promotions for the drives and discs will begin
in October, and in-box promotions for extra blank discs
will be included.
Shumway acknowledged the fact that educating consumers
at retail will be a challenge, but his company started
sales associate training on Aug.15. The most difficult
aspect will be informing the average user that their current
optical storage is not long-term, but will degrade over time.
DVDs are typically rated as having a 10-year lifespan, but
most people believe it is much longer, he said. “Even discs
labeled ‘archival’ may only last 30 years,” Shumway said.
The genesis for the M-Disc came three years ago when
a professor at Brigham Young University led a Boy Scout
troop on an outing to an ancient Native American village in
Utah. While looking at the buildings it struck him that the
images etched into the stone had lasted 1,500 years and
were still readable, yet all of modern societies’ information
was stored on discs with a much lower life span.
He set out to see if the ancient methodology could be
adapted for modern use. He approached a BYU chemistry
professor, who believed a thin, stone-like material could
be created for use on optical discs. With this information
in hand, they brought it to computer expert and began to
develop the idea.
Shumway explained, “With Cloud computing, the industry
has mastered convenience. We have mastered
read/write speeds, but what is missing from the market is
permanence. That’s what we bring.”
Shumway said he came on board first as an investor
and took the position of CEO about one year ago.