Ultradensity optical storage takes up slack

May 4, 2005

The latest media solution to the ongoing scramble to find reliable, long-term, easily accessible, and affordable digital image archive methodologies is a next-generation storage technology called ultradensity optical.

The latest media solution to the ongoing scramble to find reliable, long-term, easily accessible, and affordable digital image archive methodologies is a next-generation storage technology called ultradensity optical.

The technology, being developed by storage company Plasmon in collaboration with Sony and Hewlett-Packard, is designed to supersede 14x magneto-optical options in professional storage applications. The ultradensity optics approach employs advanced high-numerical aperture optics and violet laser technology to achieve up to 120 Gb of storage capacity on a double-sided 130-mm/5.25-inch disc.

The technology arrives at a time when hospital medical image library volumes are starting to quadruple, not just double, every two years, as digital imaging technology penetrates beyond radiology into cardiology and other specialties. It is not unusual for an echocardiogram to consume 100 MB of storage. Angiograms are even larger, measuring between 125 and 250 MB.

Image size isn't the only problem. Many hospitals in Europe and elsewhere are required to store patient studies on file for the life of the patient, instead of the shorter time period require in the U.S.

Some manufacturers, especially those that do enterprise-level patient data archiving, have begun making the transition from DVD archives to ultradensity optics. Ultradensity optical systems can yield an almost limitless repository of images and data.

"We want to know the data are safe for many years," said Mark Wheeler, director of Business Line Ultrasound for GE Healthcare. "Also, it's high density versus cost is advantageous."

Mandates of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act have escalated the importance of data security as well.

"With ultradensity optics, authenticity is provided at the physical media level, something no other storage technology can claim," said Dave Dupont, vice president of Plasmon.

Many traditional archive solutions are based on hard drives, especially RAID technology. Healthcare departments with hard drives worry about what will happen to them in 10 or 15 years.

"Technologies move quickly with hard drives, systems go end-of-life, and parts are almost impossible to get years from now," Wheeler said. "Hard drive-based sites will likely face a large and difficult data migration at some point."