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Ohio-based Folio Photonics has announced its new Active (stylized as “ACTIVE”) read/write disc format.

The new discs are said to hold 1TB each and are expected to be packaged in 10 disc cartridges. A particular highlight of these discs is that they can be produced at a “radically lower cost”. Thanks to the use of next-generation materials and efficient production techniques, ACTIVE discs cost less than $5 per TB and are planned to reach $1 per TB.

While many have consigned ODD technology to the dustbin of technology history, along with floppy disks and the like, Folio Photonics sounds very confident in its new format.

In a press release, Folio Photonics CEO Steven Santamaria boasted that the new ACTIVE disc offers “an entirely new approach to optical storage that overcomes historical limitations and enables unheard-of benefits in terms of cost, cybersecurity and sustainability.”

Santamaria’s claim is supported by experienced IT industry analyst John Monroe, who praised the new optical format and offered some insight into the technology behind active optical discs.

Monroe explained that while today’s archival optical discs have up to three layers, Active discs are made with next-generation materials, patented polymer extrusion and a thin-film-based disc construction process. Such discs work in concert with a custom optical pickup unit, which together facilitate discs with up to 16 thin film layers per side.

In addition, Folio Photonics has developed a roadmap to increase the number of layers over time, with media costs as low as $1 per TB.

The rollout of active optical disc technology is expected to begin in 2024 with 10 disc cartridges supporting 10 TB. The projected cost per TB is $5, roughly five times cheaper than HDD. Continuing with this comparison, HDDs consume up to 80% of the power. Thus, in two important respects (price per TB and running costs), Active is clearly ahead compared to HDD storage. This total cost of ownership advantage should appeal to businesses interested in easy access to their archives.

Folio Photonics claims that Active discs are made of sustainable materials. However, there seems to be little compromise when it comes to the durability of the discs, as the media is claimed to have a 100-year lifespan, is unaffected by radiation or water, and is resilient to heat, cold and humidity.

The company also claims that Active discs are not susceptible to EMP attacks, which is the case with HDDs. Both Active and HDDs outperform tape archival storage in terms of fast read/write operations. Nothing is said about the read/write performance of ACTIVE discs, which is obvious. Hopefully, some performance details will be shown before the product is launched.

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