NSM adds DVD-RAM capability to product line with Galaxy library

November 1, 1998

NSM adds DVD-RAM capability to product line with Galaxy libraryNew offering targets medium-term archiving needsSome PACS market watchers have speculated that digital versatile disk (DVD) storage media will have a large impact in digital

NSM adds DVD-RAM capability to product line with Galaxy library

New offering targets medium-term archiving needs

Some PACS market watchers have speculated that digital versatile disk (DVD) storage media will have a large impact in digital image management. Until recently, however, implementations of this durable and high-capacity storage option appeared only on the horizon in the PACS sector.

One company that is close to placing DVD systems in the field for medical imaging applications is German storage firm NSM Jukebox, which has developed Galaxy, a DVD-RAM or CD-based archiving offering. In addition to allowing higher storage capacity, DVD-RAM drives allow users to read and record all types of DVD and CD-based storage media. NSM, which has its North American office in Duluth, GA, believes that a DVD-RAM-based Galaxy offers a cost-effective alternative to magneto-optical disk archives for PACS storage applications ranging from 500 gigabytes to 1.7 terabytes.

Galaxy provides support for 14 DVD-RAM drives and could alternatively accommodate six CD-R drives or up to 14 CD-ROM drives if the customer prefers CD-based media, said David Ooley, vice president of sales and marketing. The library can store between 410 and 620 disks and offers data transfer rates ranging up to 4.8 MB per second.

Galaxy could serve as a medium-term archive complement to a long-term digital linear tape offering for larger hospitals, Ooley said. NSM believes that medical imaging users of Galaxy will appreciate its pack management concept, which allows users to swap packs of 15 DVD-RAM disks in and out of the library as part of an off-line data management approach.

Each cartridge or disk pack contains a memory chip that allows customers to track what images are in that pack. This information is tracked via a software program, and when a specific image is needed, the pack can quickly be located and swapped into the library. Once the pack has been loaded into the library, the relevant image can be accessed in seconds, Ooley said.

Galaxy will be formally introduced at the Comdex show in Las Vegas this month, and a demonstration is also planned at this year's Radiological Society of North America meeting, where a prototype will be displayed in the booth of OEM partner Siemens Medical Systems. Other units may also be shown in the booths of Kodak's Health Imaging division and Rogan Medical Systems. NSM anticipates that Galaxy will begin shipping to medical imaging customers in the first quarter of 1999. Its list price will range from $20,000 to $30,000.

NSM is looking to grow its OEM roster, Ooley said. The company has no plans to initiate direct sales of its archive offerings as StorageTek has begun to do for its products (PNN 8/98).

"We don't believe that the archive by itself is a solution, unless it's integrated into other types of PACS equipment," Ooley said. "We don't see the need to go direct at this time."

In addition to the Galaxy offering, NSM plans to add support for DVD-RAM across its line of CD-R based offerings, which include the Satellite and Mercury libraries. When equipped with DVD-RAM, Satellite will store up to 351 gigabytes, while Mercury will handle up to 390 gigabytes. Mercury does not employ Galaxy and Satellite's pack management concept, but features three bulk magazines that hold 50 DVD-RAM or CD disks and up to four drives with a mail slot.

The company's CD-R products have been installed at about 500 medical sites worldwide, with European customers contributing most of that total, Ooley said.

All customers of NSM CD jukeboxes will be able to upgrade easily to DVD-RAM, Ooley said. The new drives will also be able to read DVD-ROM, CD-ROM, and CD-R media.

NSM believes that medical imaging customers will quickly warm to DVD-RAM, which offers considerable improvement in storage capacity over CDs. DVD-RAM media can store 2.6 GB per disk, compared to 650 MB for CD-based approaches. DVD media list for $25, while CDs cost about $2, Ooley said. As DVD media costs continue to decrease, the adoption rate will only increase, he said.

"We think by next year's RSNA meeting, DVD will be an important part of the archiving that's being done in the PACS environment," Ooley said. "Tape will continue to play a very large role, but customers will balance those two methods in a hierarchy of storage devices."

NSM's use of DVD-RAM benefits from the standard's endorsement by the DVD Forum, an industry association. DVD-RAM has also been endorsed by the European standards organization ECMA, Ooley said.

If customer interest grows in DVD for applications larger than 1.7 terabytes, NSM will bring higher capacity offerings to the market, he said.

"We're continuing to gauge demand in this market for larger libraries," he said. "If we see people are looking at DVD-RAM for deeper archiving, then we can bring those types of solutions out fairly quickly."

In other DVD plans, NSM will be adding DVD-ROM capability to all its products by the third quarter of 1999. The DVD-ROM drives will be compatible with DVD-RAM media, according to NSM.