Pioneer's 16 'Blu-ray' Layers

The Japanese Web site, AV Watch, is reporting that energetic Pioneer engineers have demonstrated an optical disc with 16 data layers, yielding a capacity of 400 GB. Moreover, since it's engineered to work with specifications such as numerical aperture (NA) that jibe with the Blu-ray standard, the disc is purported to be compatible with Blu-ray.

Now, it's certainly not actually a Blu-ray disc, but its compatibility does make it interesting to compare its 400 GB with Blu-ray's 50 GB. All things being equal, this experimental disc probably uses 16 25-GB layers, essentially adding 14 to the usual Blu-ray complement of two. Getting a laser to correctly read valid data from a given layer, amid all the other-layer chaff, must be a serious feat of optical expertise. The experimental disc was playback-only, but Pioneer claims a recordable version is do-able.

The idea of 400 GB of low-cost storage is pretty endearing, but remember that optical discs are slow compared to hard-disk drives. So, these might be great for backing-up your HDD, but would not replace it. More interestingly, high-capacity discs such as these open the door for higher-resolution Blu-ray versions, perhaps using 2k, 4k or even 6k resolution.

When will this 400-GB wonder appear on Amazon's pages? Who knows. But it seems certain that Blu-ray's 50-GB capacity is just another stepping stone to bigger and better things. -Ken C. Pohlmann