Sony and Panasonic have confirmed details of their planned successor to the Blu-ray format, which will be officially known as Archival Disc. A 300GB edition is coming next summer, with a plan to eventually release a one terabyte version.
As we noted last July, the two firms had both been working on archival technology that used multiple discs packaged together. They then decided to join forces to find a way to maximize capacity on a single disc.
As well as settling on the somewhat uninspiring name and logo (pictured), Sony and Panasonic have firmed up the details for the 300GB release. At the moment Blu-ray discs typically have two layers of 25GB each for a total of 50GB.
The new format uses what the firms are calling “Narrow Track Pitch (Crosstalk Cancellation Technology)”, which means that the tracks (similar to grooves on a vinyl record) can be placed close together without affecting performance. They’ll be just 0.225μm apart, or one 44,000th of a centimetre.
As a result, Archival Disc will allow three rather than two tracks, each at 50GB rather than 25GB. The discs will be two-sided, which gets them up to the 300GB.
Both Sony and Panasonic will be launching their own discs, but the standard means they should be compatible. The companies have also announced two more future refinements, though no firm timetable has been announced. First they’ll add what they call “High Linear Density (Inter Symbol Interference Cancellation Technology)” which hasn’t been detailed but sounds like it will reduce interference, this time to allow more data to be stored along each track. That should bring the discs up to 500GB.
Finally they’ll throw in “High Linear Density (Multi Level Recording Technology)” though there’s no detail on whether that means making more efficient use of having three layers, or adding even more layer. Either way, the promise is this will get the discs up to 1TB each.
For now at least, the idea is still to target firms archiving data (and broadcasters archiving media content) rather than using the discs to distribute games or video content. Of course, if the technology does work as designed, some of the techniques could be used for creating consumer discs that either allow more content (for example, an entire TV season on a disc) or higher video resolutions such as 4K movies.