Monday, August 17, 2015

Permanent Storage: Sapphire discs

Permanent Storage: Sapphire disks. Chris Erickson. August 17, 2015.
     For several years there have been experiments with using sapphire discs for permanent storage and now a Kickstarter campaign to fund the disk. This seems similar to the Norsam HDRosetta archival preservation technology, which has been around for decades.
  • The 10-million-year sapphire hard disk. Sebastian Anthony. ExtremeTech. July 13, 2012. The ultimate long-term storage solution: two 20cm (8in) sapphire disks, molecularly fused together, with a thin layer of platinum in between, and inscribe up to 40,000 miniaturized pages of text or images on the platinum. The disk is expected to have a lifetime of 10 million years.
  • A Sapphire Hard Disk Will Last 1 Million Years (But You Can't Afford It). Jamie Condliffe. Gizmodo. July 13, 2012. 
         A team of scientists made a hard disk from sapphire which it claims will last 1 million years when looking to preserve records of where nuclear waste repositories were buried, not just in the near-future, but for tens of thousands of years. Currently, there's no digital format that we know can last that long with certainty. Two problems: First, the prototype disk cost $30,000 dollars. Second, what language to use when writing on the disk. 
  • Fahrenheit 2451 - Preserve Your Data in a Sapphire Disk. Alain Rey & Farid Benzakour. Kickstarter. July 14, 2015. The project raised €45,461 with 341 backers. The Fahrenheit 2451 project has the ability for people to order their own nanoforms or jewelry with content inscribed. 
    • It appears that the nanoform (composed of two slices of synthetic sapphire which can withstand 2451 degrees Fahrenheit) currently etches analog letters and images on a disk. At the smallest size, every character has a size of 10 μm, and the disk can be read with a digital microscope or similar enlarging device. Disks must be created and inscribed in a clean room environment. The current facility is Grenoble, France. 
    • The 8'' nanoform can store up to 10,000 letter pages at 150 dpi or 650x850 pictures. The FAQ indicates it is possible to digitize the content again. It requires a professional scanner with 25,600 dpi precision, which you can find in most of labs and printing press, and the "quality of your pictures and documents will be approximatively the same as the original."  There is a viewing platform online to view the images. 
    • The regular price of the 4 inch nanoform, with up to 2,500 images or pages at 7,000 MP, is $1,299.

This is certainly an interesting advance in technology and it is worth watching the progress, but this disk is not about digital preservation or curation. This is about End of Time Preservation rather than Timely Preservation.

A better model for permanent digital preservation storage is the M-Disc technology: creating a permanent 1,000 year disc in any computer in a few minutes, that can be read by any other computer, at a cost as low as $0.17 per GB.

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