Facebook working on data storage system using Blu-ray discs instead of hard drives

Blu-ray discs can apparently be used for more than just movies and console games. Facebook has announced it is developing a prototype for a new data storage system that will be able to use 10,000 Blu-ray discs to store up to a petabyte of data, with the possibility of increasing that space to five petabytes.

The company announced their plans as part of the Open Compute Project summit that's being held this week. According to PCWorld, Facebook's design is for a "cold storage" system that is made to be used rarely for data backups. Facebook said such a system could be used to store duplicates of a user's photos and videos in case something goes wrong.

Facebook says using Blu-ray discs instead of traditional hard drives could reduce the company's overall cold storage costs by 50 percent and energy use by 80 percent. There's also room for adding even more data space since Blu-ray makers could squeeze in more storage per disc. While this new design is still in early development, Facebook claims it could start full production tests later this year.

If this kind of system works as Facebook thinks, this could extend the life of Blu-ray discs, since more people are starting to watch movie video streaming services like Netflix versus renting or buying physical media.

Source: PCWorld | Disc data image via Shutterstock

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Jason Stillion said,
So were going back to main frame and tapes when you think about it.
Just replace main frame with cloud and tapes with blu-ray.

I'd rather use LTO than BD-R.

People call me paranoid when I tell 'em Facebook does not delete your data when you close your account. This might make a more convincing argument.

You know they aren't ever going to throw these disks away, right? All your profile info, posts, photos will be stored forever on a disc for the NSA to use.

torrentthief said,
You know they aren't ever going to throw these disks away, right? All your profile info, posts, photos will be stored forever on a disc for the NSA to use.

Forever? Ever try and use a burned DVD 6 months later? Blu-ray is "slightly" better, but not much. The smaller track gives it a bit more longevity, but it still fails for all the same issues.

NastySasquatch said,

Forever? Ever try and use a burned DVD 6 months later? Blu-ray is "slightly" better, but not much. The smaller track gives it a bit more longevity, but it still fails for all the same issues.

I have burned CD's from the late 90's that still work perfectly today..... never had a problem yet with the dye fade problems others seem to have

NastySasquatch said,

Forever? Ever try and use a burned DVD 6 months later? Blu-ray is "slightly" better, but not much. The smaller track gives it a bit more longevity, but it still fails for all the same issues.

Yes, and 6 years later, never had an issue. What crap are you buying?

NastySasquatch said,

Forever? Ever try and use a burned DVD 6 months later? Blu-ray is "slightly" better, but not much. The smaller track gives it a bit more longevity, but it still fails for all the same issues.

If they use the Mdisk (http://www.mdisc.com/) which is coming out with blank Blu-Ray, it could last up to 1000 years. Not Joking

I do have DVD-R that 5-10 years and still working fine. It depends on the quality of the disc you buy, I have cheap ones that lasted < 5 years however.

I don't know how this works. Is this a big cabinet or rack with a ton of optical drives all spinning at once? Is this a library with an arm that swaps discs? Blu-ray discs don't hold that much, and they're slow. What are they up to, 50GB?

You could fit several 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB SD cards in the space that 1 disc takes up. They're smaller and faster, and prices are dropping.

Newegg has 50GB discs for about $25, 64GB SD cards for about $30, and 128GB SD cards for about $80.

Wouldn't a big RAID of SD cards be better than dealing with burning a crap-load of discs?

What's wrong with TAPE?

Are Blu-ray RAIDs really that much better/cheaper??

Xenomorph said,
I don't know how this works. Is this a big cabinet or rack with a ton of optical drives all spinning at once? Is this a library with an arm that swaps discs? Blu-ray discs don't hold that much, and they're slow. What are they up to, 50GB?

You could fit several 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB SD cards in the space that 1 disc takes up. They're smaller and faster, and prices are dropping.

Newegg has 50GB discs for about $25, 64GB SD cards for about $30, and 128GB SD cards for about $80.

Wouldn't a big RAID of SD cards be better than dealing with burning a crap-load of discs?

What's wrong with TAPE?

Are Blu-ray RAIDs really that much better/cheaper??

This is a place that at last I heard was installing a thousand hard drives a week in their data centers...... not sure if that pace slowed down any or not but that was the last number I heard...

Xenomorph said,
I don't know how this works. Is this a big cabinet or rack with a ton of optical drives all spinning at once? Is this a library with an arm that swaps discs? Blu-ray discs don't hold that much, and they're slow. What are they up to, 50GB?

You could fit several 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB SD cards in the space that 1 disc takes up. They're smaller and faster, and prices are dropping.

Newegg has 50GB discs for about $25, 64GB SD cards for about $30, and 128GB SD cards for about $80.

Wouldn't a big RAID of SD cards be better than dealing with burning a crap-load of discs?

What's wrong with TAPE?

Are Blu-ray RAIDs really that much better/cheaper??

You may not remember, but in the 90s you could buy like 500 CD carousel players, this is how it works. A big carousel of discs and a selector with 1 or 2 actual optical readers and burners in the center.

I actually really like this idea. It's got to be cheaper than tape and more compact e.g. you should be able to store data in the same physical space compared to a tape library. I think this could be very interesting. The only concern I would have is longevity for archival storage compared to something like tape.

Shadowzz said,
Blu rays have a lifespan of 30-150 years, I'm sure that's plenty.
LTO has 30 years too.

That is factory pressed Blu-rays and not recordable media disks which are not fully cured the same way.

Most recordable optical disks have a shelf life of 10-15 years, which is more like 3-5 if you don't store them flat in a temperature and humidity controlled environment.

Wonder if they would do something like RAID'ing across the discs for redundancy in the event that a single disc was misplaced or somehow became corrupted?

It sounds like it's for backup purposes only anyway, so if a disc fails they would swap it out and it would re-burn the data from the main databases/hard drives that are actually powering the website

SSD's cost WAY more than traditional HDD's. And they are not meant for data storage. Optical discs work out much cheaper.

Also, do you really think they will be using cheap quality media? They will most probably have a direct tie-up with manufacturers of archive grade discs which are designed to last for donkeys ears!

I can't tell if you're serious or not. Really? SSDs are still extremely expensive compared to hard drives and even optical discs. You also have to consider that hard drives and SSDs need to be held in climate controlled facilities. That isn't cheap. Optical discs are very reliable. They don't need tightly controlled climate and don't fail like mechanical hard drives or worn out SSDs can.

mnl1121 said,
Optical discs are very reliable. They don't need tightly controlled climate and don't fail like mechanical hard drives or worn out SSDs can.

actually optical discs can fail, common case are disc rot, which accelerated by exposure to heat or light.

Torolol said,

actually optical discs can fail, common case are disc rot, which accelerated by exposure to heat or light.

They can, but it takes a very long time and they certainly aren't as sensitive compared to hard drives.

The Dark Knight said,
Also, do you really think they will be using cheap quality media? They will most probably have a direct tie-up with manufacturers of archive grade discs which are designed to last for donkeys ears!

I love the optimism there! Companies are infamous for using the cheapest possible resources!! I've know of huge companies and Government Departments who really totally on something and then go and buy/use the cheapest possible... When disaster strikes (as it always does) they will blame everyone bar themselves!! It's happened before, it will happen again... They never learn...

Recordable DVD/Optical discs are notorious for corrupting, the only type that last or the factory pressed/molded type!

People seem to think that becasue their bought music CDs and movie DVDs last that all discs will... they don't. The professional ones are molded from a master, the recordable type are far inferior and unreliable.

I have stopped backing up on to optical media as HDDs are so cheap these days it makes the longer reliability worth it...

Will probably eventually move to high quality flash drives. Now that is a good backup media, small, quick and compact... Think how many tiny micoSD cards you could store compared to discs of any kind!

What if they didn't? How funny would it be if some engineer was browsing Neowin and saw his post and thought "OH crap, I forgot to research about the stability of discs over long term?"...wait that's improbable lol

thehootyowl said,

I love the optimism there! Companies are infamous for using the cheapest possible resources!! I've know of huge companies and Government Departments who really totally on something and then go and buy/use the cheapest possible... When disaster strikes (as it always does) they will blame everyone bar themselves!! It's happened before, it will happen again... They never learn...

Recordable DVD/Optical discs are notorious for corrupting, the only type that last or the factory pressed/molded type!

People seem to think that becasue their bought music CDs and movie DVDs last that all discs will... they don't. The professional ones are molded from a master, the recordable type are far inferior and unreliable.

I have stopped backing up on to optical media as HDDs are so cheap these days it makes the longer reliability worth it...

Will probably eventually move to high quality flash drives. Now that is a good backup media, small, quick and compact... Think how many tiny micoSD cards you could store compared to discs of any kind!

All of this, plus if you store them any way other than flat, they will sort of flow down that way and corrupt. Part of what makes them work is that a recordable optical disk is never fully cured until the laser burns a track, but storing it on its side defeats the technology.

Also, if you don't periodically expose all those solid-state devices to an electricity source, they eventually spontaneously lose all their data.

Glad that I am not a facebook user, their service is awful and your whole profile is open to the public to see it. No, thank you!!! I value more my privacy.

your profile is only public if you allow it, and so what if it is you that paranoid? im sure your governtment allready has enough on you

macoman said,
Glad that I am not a facebook user, their service is awful and your whole profile is open to the public to see it. No, thank you!!! I value more my privacy.

I guess you have a google account

I am all for companies trying new things and pushing outside of their traditional business space. But sometimes a company can lose focus and concentrate less on their core business, more and more I am seeing Facebook head down that path.

Yes, yes, I know that a company that size can do multiple things and have multiple agendas but they should learn from Microsoft's past mistakes, focus on your core business and make those products better </rant>

red hook said,
I am all for companies trying new things and pushing outside of their traditional business space. But sometimes a company can lose focus and concentrate less on their core business, more and more I am seeing Facebook head down that path.

Yes, yes, I know that a company that size can do multiple things and have multiple agendas but they should learn from Microsoft's past mistakes, focus on your core business and make those products better </rant>


the cost of storing a full site backup, probably weekly, would amount to millions for the hard drives and keeping them in a climate controlled storage space. Compare that to a disc that can be stored without climate control and is much cheaper, and what facebook is doing makes perfect sense.

I would agree, they're just trying to make keeping that core function cheaper. I'm all for it, though I would assume hdd's are easier to search/backup to/restore from than blu-ray discs, but if it works, definitely not a bad way to go.