Panasonic's Blu-ray RAID archive

Panasonic's Blu-ray RAID archive

Summary: A single Blu-ray disc isn't very fast or large. So how can it be used in enterprise storage? Panasonic's answer: lash 12 together to make a fast, long-life - 50 years - robotic storage system.

TOPICS: Storage

Like Jason Perlow, I'm passing on CES this year - and I'm already in Las Vegas, an easy 4 hour drive from my home in the mountains of northern Arizona. But I am at Storage Visions, an excellent pre-CES conference on storage for consumers and consumer services.

I've seen several cool things that I'll be posting about the next few days. First up:

Panasonic's Blu-ray RAID archive robot
Panasonic has a nifty Blu-ray-based storage system. Imagine 12 Blu-ray discs in a striped RAID configuration. The RAID gives the Blu-ray discs speed and competitive capacity.


  • 200MB/sec throughput
  • 1.2TB per cartridge of 12 discs
  • 108TB per archive of 90 cartridge
  • 60 second access time
  • 6 Watts standby, 100 Watts R/W
  • 6U rackmountable box

The 12 Blu-ray discs are in a cartridge about the size of a tape cartridge. The disc unloader places them into 12 different Blu-ray drives for reading and writing.

Here's a silent 1 minute video showing the unload/load process for interested hardware geeks:

The Storage Bits take
Panasonic says their archive quality Blu-ray discs are good for 50 years. I'm not convinced, but even if they're only good for 25 years that is a significant advance for an active archive. LTO tape is only good for 200 complete reads, a spec Blu-ray handily beats.

But the more important metric is long-term readability. Assuming the media is good, can you count on a machine able to read it?

With optical the answer is more likely to be yes. Optical technology is everywhere and easy to replicate. Compare that to the specialized head/media engineering of tape - typically promising compatibility over 2-3 generations - and you'll have a much more difficult time reading an LTO-5 tape in 20 years.

I've commented often on Sony's mishandling of Blu-ray over the years, but Panasonic's Blu-ray archive makes sense both technically and economically for data that needs to be readily, but not immediately, available.

Comments welcome. I never thought I'd like an optical RAID, but Panasonic surprised me.

Topic: Storage

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  • This is nuts

    A TB hard drive costs like
    • Sure, an HDD is cheap, but . . .

      how long will it last? You're very lucky to get 10 years and 5 is more likely. That's not a good building block for long-term storage.
      R Harris
  • Dead tech?

    Interesting choice of topic, considering you've been telling us Blu-ray is a dead technology since October of 2008, and that the end of the RAID era started in August of last year.

    Take my advice for what it's worth but just keep writing articles like this one, and stop publicly making predictions. Credibility!
  • Panasonic's Blu-ray RAID archive

    come to think of it, robin is right at rapping out at sony. they seem to have the propensity of bungling any technology they put their hands on these days. gone were the days when level headed executives used to run sony ... in the olden days japanese manufacturers behaved much the same way the chinese are behaving now, i.e. thinking long terms. still remember the days when us threatened sanctions against japanese manufacturers for dumping electronic products on us shores, in return for long term market share ... now, sony seems to be in for short monetary gains at the expense of its long term viability!