Technology 2 min read

Microsoft Explores Holographic Storage as a Cloud Solution

Gerd Altmann / Pixabay.com

Gerd Altmann / Pixabay.com

As the demand for data storage increases, Microsoft is exploring what they're calling the future of cloud technology — holographic storage.

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of hologram might be stage performances featuring dead musicians. And that’s not surprising.

One of the earliest subjects of the technology was 2Pac Shakur, appearing at the 2012 Coachella festival. Since then, 3D performances by Whitney Houston, Roy Orbison, and Ronnie James Dio have followed.

However, hologram’s application extends beyond bringing dead singers and celebrities back to “life.” According to Microsoft, it could also solve an existing problem — storage.

The tech giant noted that the current storage technologies are not improving at a sufficient pace. What’s more, their mechanical moving parts makes them prone to reliability and performance issue.

Meanwhile, the demand for long-term storage in the cloud has surged to unprecedented levels — growing into the zettabytes.

Microsoft explained at its virtual Ignite 2020 conference this week:

“Operating at such scales in the cloud requires a fundamental re-thinking of how we build large-scale storage systems, as well as the underlying storage technologies that underpin them.”

To solve this problem, the company has turned to holographic solutions for cloud storage. Hence, project HSD (Holographic Storage Device).

Using Holographic Storage to House Digital Content

With holography, storage media will no longer be restricted to two surfaces of a storage disk. Instead, we’ll be able to take advantage of the media’s volume.

Holographic storage relies on an optical crystal to read and write data. Since it uses the entire crystal’s volume, users can conveniently store a massive amount of data. Also, erasure is possible through UV light.

Flash devices are less efficient by comparison. Not only are flash storages pricier, but they also have limited read and write capacities. Similarly, hard drives depend on movable parts that are prone to wear and tear.

Microsoft noted:

“The hologram occupies a small volume inside the crystal, which we think of as a zone, and multiple pages can be recorded in the same physical volume or zone.”

Thanks to software improvements through AI, the team managed to achieve one-to-one pixel matching. That means simpler and less expensive optics can produce even better results than before.

Microsoft Research says it has attained an almost 100 percent increase in density in holographic storage tests. Furthermore, it expects the compression and access rates to improve in the coming months.

Read More: Microsoft Unveils Authenticator Software to Spot Deepfakes

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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