Apple ought to check out the M-Disc
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Apple ought to check out the M-Disc

Apple seems determined to phase out built-in optical drives on Macs. However, if it reconsiders -- and I think it should as I'm convinced that the future of storage isn't all in the iCloud -- they might work with a fairly young company named "Millenniata" (http://millenniata.com/).

Millenniata makes the M-Disc, which the company says is designed to last for 1,00 years or more. Increasingly, data is stored on computer media such as hard disks, CDs and DVDs. Most of those won't last beyond 10 years, according to some studies.

Unlike computer hard-drives and optical discs (CD and DVD) that suffer from decay, destroying the files you were trying to preserve and protect, the M-Disc can't be overwritten, erased, or corrupted by natural processes, according to the folks at Millenniata. The M-Ready drive engraves your files onto the M-Disc.

Here's how Millenniata describes the technology: "These new materials enabled the use of a more durable data mark -- a physical hole or pit that could be formed in the data layer. A much higher laser-power is used to write or create these physically changed pits in the data layer.

"These physical pits have two main advantages over dye and phase-change-based optical media; the permanent physical movement of the material and the permanent optical contrast between light and dark spots. Movement of the material actually enhances the edge of the mark as shown in the nearby scanning electron microscope image. The nanometer scale location of the edges is critical to the retention of data, with the enhanced edges further building-in longevity.

"The other advantage is the excellent, permanent optical contrast that comes from making a physical mark. The difference in optical quality between the pit, where there is no material, and the areas adjacent to the pit, where the material remains, provides a definite advantage in retention of data and in ease of reading the disc long into the future. Essentially, pits are better and allows for readable data even after hundreds of years."

The drives and discs will be available on Millenniata’s website in September. They will be available at some popular retail outlets in October. One M-Disc costs US$2.99 and purportedly has a DVD disc capacity of 4.7GB of space with comparable performance.

Do the discs work as promised? I don't know, and I suspect I won't be around a thousand years from now to check and see.

However, if Millenniata's claims are anywhere close to on-target, they're worth Apple's consideration. Heck, promote the M-Disc as a way to back-up and store media bought on iTunes. And if Apple is looking for a new company to buy...

-- Dennis Sellers

 

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