HDTV on a Credit Card?

In a recent poll conducted on the SGHT website, a majority of home-theater fans expressed their desire for an HDTV version of DVD to get them interested in the new high-definition formats. But so far, the storage capacity required to store the massive amounts of data needed by even 20 minutes of HDTV exceeded anything likely to be available in the foreseeble future.

That is, until last week, when C3D announced it has conducted successful public demonstrations of its Fluorescent Multi-layer Card (FMC) and Disc (FMD) optical data-storage technologies at the Dan Hotel, Tel Aviv, Israel, and at its laboratories in Rehovoth, Israel. C3D says it also plans to demonstrate these technologies in California's Silicon Valley in November 1999.

C3D claims that the event was intended to show the company's "fully functional prototypes" implementing its FMC ClearCard-ROM, ClearCard-WORM, and FMD-ROM disc technologies. The company states that, in addition to greatly increasing memory capabilities, C3D's storage technologies will be significantly less expensive than the current magnetic and optical versions, reducing the cost-to-byte ratio in some cases by factors of 10 or even 100. C3D also claims that the new technology can be used with existing optical data-storage devices with only minimal re-tooling.

Dr. Ingolf Sander, C3D's general products manager, explains that "expanding memory capacity, this substantially will have countless real-world ramifications. Now people will be able to store up to 20 hours of HDTV-quality video on one small card or disc. The concept of e-books can become reality, as one small card can carry numerous volumes. Data-storage capacity will no longer be technology's limiting factor."

A company press release states that "multi-layering will enable the storage of hundreds (and later thousands) of gigabytes of data on standard 120mm (i.e., CD/DVD-sized) discs. Even greater potential for density-memory increase is entailed in ClearCard, C3D's credit-card-sized carrier, which will have initial data-storage capacities hundreds of times greater than similar-sized devices currently available." The company also claims that data retrieval will reach "unprecedented" speeds due to the ability of parallel reading of information. "In both card and disc, data will be read simultaneously from the many layers within the media."

According to C3D, the company intends to commence negotiations immediately with several joint-venture partners, and expects to begin production of the first commercial devices within 12 months. The products planned include a 20-layer FMC ClearCard-ROM in the form of a credit card, having up to 10GB capacity; a 10-layer FMC ClearCard-WORM (Write Once Read Many) in the form of a credit card, having up to 1GB capacity; and a 10-layer FMD-ROM disc in the standard 120mm (CD, DVD) disc format, having up to 140GB capacity. The company claims that the planned second- and third-generation cards and discs will have capacities up to and exceeding one terabyte (1000 gigabytes). RAM versions of the discs and cards are also expected.