A recent article over at ComputerWorld alerted me to an Israeli technology company, Mempile Inc . For the past seven years Mempile has taken on over $30 million of investment from private investors and various investment funds — in that time they have developed a technology that could see low cost Terabyte optical storage become a reality.

Within three years Mempile hopes to have 700GB optical media available to consumers for as little as $30 with 1TB media following soon after. The drives won’t be cheap with current estimates being $3000-4000 per unit.

The TeraDisc is a transparent ‘plexiglas’ style disc and is physically the same size as a standard DVD. While blue-laser HD-DVD and Blu-Ray storage is expected to top out at 200GB, a 1.2mm thick TeraDisc will be able to store five times that using two red-lasers (one for tracking and one for R/W). The drive apparently writes at a molecular level, changing the colour of fluorescent molecules in the media to record data. The discs have two-hundred layers capable of holding 5GB of data each. The layers are spaced only 5 microns apart!

With the ongoing battle between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray still to see a leader emerge, it looks increasingly likely that we may see another format come in and push them both out of the picture. Take-up rates for the new HD formats are not great with many people reluctant to pick one. For a lot of people, the quality of DVD video is perfectly adequate and there is no hurry to ‘upgrade’ an entire movie library just yet.

The TeraDisc is one of many new optical storage formats currently under development, but it shows just how much more life there is left in the 12cm plastic disc we’ve all come to know and love. Mempile have even mentioned a 5TB DVD ‘a few years down the road’.

Let’s hope the technology industry can get their act together and agree on one common standard moving forward. Will that happen? Can it happen? Let me know what you think; leave a comment.