It could be a game changer in data centers.

Hyper HD

Researchers at the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology have come up with an optical storage device that has the same shape and size as a DVD or Blu-Ray disc — but can hold a whopping 1.6 petabits of data, or around 200,000 gigabytes.

That's enough data to store over 40,000 DVDs, or over 100 years of watching one movie a day. As IEEE Spectrum reports, that's around 4,000 times the data density of a Blu-Ray, and roughly 24 times of the highest-capacity hard drives currently available.

Instead of just allowing you to live out the rest of your life watching movies without having to swap out the disc, the researchers are hoping their invention could significantly shrink the size of data centers — which still rely heavily on huge numbers of conventional hard drives.

Best of all, the researchers claim their discs could make use of conventional DVD mass production methods, producing a single disc in only six minutes.

Laser Blast

Instead of storing data in a single layer, the team came up with a way to encode data across 100 layers. As detailed in a paper published in the journal Nature last week, the data is also recorded in spots that measure only 54 nanometers across.

To both write and read data, the researchers relied on nanometer-scale lasers. By finely timing the system, they were able to significantly pare down the size of the spots where the data is stored.

The light-sensitive material that enables all this, called AIE-DDPR, has been a "ten-year effort," as coauthor and University of Shanghai for Science and Technology computer engineering professor Min Gu told IEEE Spectrum.

To be clear, it's unlikely that these super-high-capacity optical discs will bring Blockbuster back from the grave, given the decades-long and painfully drawn-out death of physical media.

Nonetheless, Gu and his colleagues believe their optical discs can be manufactured at commercial scales, making them an intriguing option to scale down the physical space taken up by data centers.

More on renting DVDs: Startup Says It Can Store 100TB in Nintendo-Like Cartridges

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