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Optical Disc Store from Sony Claims 100 Year Lifespan

​Sony has followed Panasonic in launching an optical disc-based storage system for data centres. The Everspan Library System (or just Everspan) is claimed capable of storing 181 Petabytes guaranteed for 100 years. Four systems can be ganged together to offer 724PB of total storage.

Everspan uses Sony's 300 GB Archival Disc to store data. “Unlike tape or hard disk drives which need to be refreshed or replaced every 5-7 years, the Archival Disc can support data storage for over 100 years in data center environments,” Sony contends. “Because of the durability of optical discs, unlike other storage media, users are expected to never need to migrate data and Sony is offering 100 year warranty for optical media.”

The initiative is led by Frank Frankovsky whose start-up company Optical Archive Inc Sony acquired last year.

Frankovsky previously led Facebook's hardware design and supply-chain operations as well as the Open Compute Project, a multicompany effort that promotes open-source designs for Web-style computer servers and network switches.

In January, Panasonic announced it had developed something called freeze-ray, another and by all accounts similar, Optical Disc-based data archive System also in collaboration with Facebook. Panasonic said Facebook is deploying the first-generation 100 GB Blu-ray systems into its data centres now, and expects deployment of the second-generation 300GB Archival Disc-based archive system later in 2016.

As CEO of Everspan division Sony Optical Archive, Frankovsky says, the goal to make it possible for customers to store everything for as long as they wish in a low-touch, low-cost optical library.

Everspan is comprised of three units: the Base Unit, the Robotic Unit, and up to 14 Expansion Units. Capacity can be increased by adding Expansion Units, which require a “nominal increase” in power consumption, and cooling requirements. Up to 64 Sony optical array drives can be incorporated into the system, each of which has an average transfer rate of 280 MB/s.

Up to four systems can be connected in a single system, giving access to a 724PB of total addressable storage. Sony gives sense of scale: If you were to envision one bit of data as the equivalent to one second, then 1PB is the equivalent of 285 million years. It is able to transfer almost 18 GB of data per second, “outpacing the best performance of tape libraries and archival drive platforms. This performance level is especially important when dealing with loading or restoring data as well as handling requests for unstructured or random data.”

The software support includes Amazon S3 object store as well as file system support. “With these options, redundancy is provided through erasure coding. For those who prefer to create their own direct interface, Sony delivers an optical drive interface that leverages the Sony MMC-6 SCSI multimedia command set.; Alternatively a tape drive interface lets customers easily transition from tape library to optical library.”

In data centers, at approximately 9kW for a typical 181PB system, Everspan is claimed to be far more efficient than conventional archive alternatives. When the system is idle, power consumption drops to less than 2kW for a complete 181PB library.

The system is being evaluated by several companies and institutions, including Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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