Optical Disk Drives

What Does the Future Hold for Optical Disk Storage?

With the advancement of solid state drives being able to compact several gigabytes worth of data into a small object the size of a pen, the future of optical disk drives is looking bleak. Then again, solid-state storage has been known to have certain drawbacks. While solid state drives become more secure and are growing in storage size, magnetic storage devices are still the preferred method for storing large quantities of data. Perhaps the future of optical disk drives will find itself in this direction rather than that of its predecessor, the floppy disk or tape drive. In this article, we're going to discuss different types of optical media and compare them to solid-state devices.

Standard CD/DVD

Despite the availability of other technologies, the standard CD-ROM at a maximum of 737MB storage per disc and the DVD-ROM at a maximum of 4.7GB storage per disc still remain the most popular form of portable storage. At a cost that equates to cents-on-the-dollar, they are sturdy and reliable. With rewritable CD and DVD (CD-RW/DVD-RW) formats available, data can be placed and erased as needed. The downfalls in this are size and format limitations. Standard CD and DVD formats are limited to the sizes stated above, even thought the read/write rate varies. With solid-state drives, high volume storage is compact and the transfer rate of the data is only limited by that of your computer. Also, all one needs to transfer that data is drag-and-drop into the mounted drive and it's ready. If you need to utilize more drive space, simply delete the data or a complete format takes seconds. On the other hand, non-rewritable disc requires third-party burning software and several minutes to burn a disc that is finalized and cannot be reused. A rewritable disc will take longer as it often requires formatting prior to writing.

Optical Disk Drives

Blu-ray

With solid-state drives optimizing the storage market, Optical Disk technology has moved along to provide the video niche unparalleled options. With the advancement of HD Video came the need for higher density storage methods as DVD technology was limited. Blu-ray is capable of storing up to 50GB of data in multiple layers, thus allowing for greater definition. Since Blu-ray discs are generally data discs like the CD and DVD, they are capable of storing that much non-video data as well. With the BD players being much more advanced than other disc players, they are capable of applying mixed-media discs more efficiently. This is great for presentations or video discs that also want ease of ROM data capabilities. The only setbacks with BD are they are extremely expensive as storage media and they require special equipment to use. You can't simply put a BD into a DVD unit and have it work as it's the blue optical laser that reads it.

Developmental Technologies

While the future of optical disk drives is still very uncertain as solid-state drives and their related technologies (such as cloud streaming) have all but found dominance, there is hope. The Holographic Versatile Disc (HVD) has been in development for as long as the BD and it boasts a whopping 1.6TB storage capacity. 3D data storage takes it up a notch and adds another layer for greater storage capacity. Despite the advances, any optical disk technology will always require some type of read device to access the stored data. As solid-state storage becomes more affordable, it drifts past optical storage as a potential leader.