electronictheatre.co.uk/articles/archive/2009/next-generation-systems-look-beyond-blu-ray-03290409/Next-Generation Systems Look Beyond Blu-ray
Although it’s easy to believe that the Current-Generation of videogame systems are only just reaching their stride, it’s almost impossible to stop the talk of what will be coming next. Electronic Theatre ImageIndustry analysts have had the successors to the Xbox 360, PLAYSTATION3 and Wii penned-in for 2011 for some time, and while Electronic Theatre feels that we should be looking at least another year beyond – 2012 – there’s no denying that the future technology will bring with it more than just bigger games.
But “bigger” games are the exact subject of this here article, not simply in terms of scale, but in terms of capacity. Surely not having yet slipped from the memory of most Electronic Theatre regulars, a format war waged (fairly briefly, when all is considered) at the start of the Current-Generation. While pitting Blu-ray against HD-DVD wasn’t a direct concern of the videogames industry, it has undoubtedly helped to shape the current state of videogame production. And as we all know, technology is eternally evolving in modern times, leading William Usher over at Blend Games to a very interesting discovery.
Holography is a technology that has been used in a variety of formats for many years. Projecting a series of light patterns to an optical input (such as the human eye or, in this case, a data-reading laser) the capabilities of holographic projection have thus far been limited to large-scale tourist attractions and a handful of Arcade machines from the late 90’s in the public sector (aside from various medical implementations). However, a US research team, General Electric, claim to have capitalised on the possibilities of the technology by delivering holographic optical media with the capacity of around one-hundred standard DVDs on a single disc.
Though currently indisputably expensive, by 2011 General Electric is expecting mass-market delivery and the medium adopted as the universal standard storage medium,Electronic Theatre Image in the way that DVD is currently and Sony hope to surpass with Blu-ray. Limited to medical, marketing and research purposes at current, it’s unsurprising that each of the big three console manufacturers have already been linked with the format in some way.
“This could be the next generation of low-cost storage,” said Richard Doherty, an analyst at Envisioneering, a technology research firm. According to reports, the team achieved a 200-fold increase in the reflective power of their holograms, allowing them to be read on existing Blu-ray devices. The PLAYSTATION3 has been an expensive exercise for SONY, and along with Blu-ray is possibly the most important product in their arsenal at present. With this new media utilising technology for which Sony controls patents, it’s highly likely that the increased capacity of holographic media and the nullified research and development costs could sway the global media giant to adopt the system for the inevitable PLAYSTATION4. Although detracting from their own revolution in storage, the need to stay ahead of the curve could possibly see Sony requiring a larger storage capacity than Blu-ray currently offers, as both Microsoft and Nintendo will undoubtedly be looking at delivering a better alternative in their Next-Generation systems, and the fact that a Blu-ray laser is still required will result in royalty payments to Sony that may not equal that of Blu-ray itself, but will soften the blow of the possible loss of leading the digital-disc format race.
Microsoft have been criticised heavily this generation for continuing to use DVD as the basis for their system. Compared even to the DreamCast’s reluctance to use DVD (although capable, most titles arrived at retail on CD), the additional costs of supporting a new media are equally a factor to the benefits that come with increased capacity. However, holographic media is expected to drop in-price rapidly between now and 2011. When Blu-ray arrived back in 2006 developers cited the cost at $1 per gigabyte, it is claimed that holographic discs will drop below that by 2011. 2012 will see the technology drop to less than ten cents per gigabyte, and fall even further in the future. Positioned incredibly generously for the suggested 2011/2012 roll-out for the Next-Generation of systems, it’s highly likely that General Electric has delivered the technology with videogames consoles being their desired target – and wisely so, as the millions of users worldwide would undoubtedly cement the format in the annals of not only videogame technology, but general household technology also, just as the PlayStation2 is considered to have done for DVD in Europe.
Although it’s easy to see why both Microsoft and Sony have been attached to the format in some way, it’s more surprising to find that Nintendo have reportedly shown interest in the product. With the majority of Wii games seemingly failing to draw the most out of the offered DVD format, if Nintendo intend on continuing down their path of all-encompassing videogame entertainment, would a larger storage medium really be necessary? Could we perhaps see Nintendo’s next system picking-up pace in the technology race once again? Only time will tell, but as ever, Electronic Theatre will keep you informed of any new happenings with this fascinating new technology.