Digital Data Storage (August 1995)
Technology Development for Optical-Tape-Based Rapid Access Affordable Mass Storage (TRAAMS)
Develop an optical tape-based technology capable of storing the entire cataloged holdings of the Library of Congress within an affordable tabletop system that changes the economics of mass data storage and triggers a cascade of opportunities in information-intensive businesses.
Sponsor: Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC)1700 Dell Avenue
Campbell, CA 95008
The cataloged contents of the Library of Congress have become a test case that the data storage industry uses to help make its technical ambitions easier to envision. A joint venture assembled by Terabank Systems, Inc., proposes to develop an optical-tape-based data storage technology that would be capable of hosting the data equivalent of the Library of Congress's cataloged contents in a table-top system and still have room left over. Another measure of the system's storage capacity--5,000 full-length movies--hints of its potential role in the nascent video-on-demand industry. The system is envisioned to cost less than $100,000. The technology that the team envisions includes a durable, thin-gauge erasable/rewritable optical tape on which a bit of data can be recorded on a spot six-tenths of a micrometer in diameter; a tape handling method that can move the tape at velocities of 2,500 centimeters per second, or nearly a mile per minute; new laser-head architectures involving optoelectronic, photonic, and microelectromechanical components that can transfer 6 million bytes of data per second or, when arranged in laser arrays, can simultaneously access multiple tracks of the tape, up to 100 million bytes per second--innovations in software and manufacturing processes that will make the entire "Hyper-Store Library System" an affordable solution in future information systems. The vertically integrated joint venture also includes Polaroid Corp. (Cambridge, MA), Science Applications International Corp. (McLean, VA), Xerox Corp. (El Segundo, CA), Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA), Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (Troy, MI), Motorola, Inc. (Phoenix, AZ), NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (Greenbelt, MD), and the University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ).