[Beowulf] Re: Interesting

Peter St. John peter.st.john at gmail.com
Tue Nov 2 17:49:34 PDT 2010

deBeers laser-engraves serial numbers onto their (natural) diamonds (to
counter the increasing gem quality of artificial diamonds made by, say,
chemical vapor deposition). So how about laser engraving data onto cheap
chemical vapor deposition thin diamond slices? (One of the ideas had been to
make microelectronics substrates from diamond this way, since diamond
conducts heat better than silicon).

On Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 1:36 PM, Robert G. Brown <rgb at phy.duke.edu> wrote:

> On Fri, 29 Oct 2010, Lux, Jim (337C) wrote:
>  Or, how about something like the UNICON aka "terabit memory" (TBM) from
>> Illiac IV days. It's a stable polyester base with a thin film of rhodium
>> that was ablated by a laser making 3 micron holes to write the bits.
>>  $3.5M
>> to store a terabit in 1975.
> Burned RO laser disks should in principle be as stable, if the medium
> used is thick enough.  The problem is that CDs tend to be mass produced
> with very thin media, cheap plastic, and are even susceptible to
> corrosion through the plastic over time.  If one made a CD with tempered
> glass and a moderately thick slice of e.g. stainless steel or
> platinum...
> But then your problem is the reader.  CD readers give way to DVD and are
> still backwards compatible, sort of.  But what about the 2020
> equivalent?  Will there even be one?  Nobody will buy actual CDs any
> more.  Nobody will buy movies on DVDs any more (seriously, I doubt that
> they will).  Will there BE a laser drive that is backwards compatible to
> CD, or will it go the way of reel to reel tapes, 8 track tapes, cassette
> tapes, QIC tapes, floppy drives of all flavors (including high capacity
> drives like the ones I have carefully saved at home in case I ever need
> one), magnetic core memories, large mountable disk packs, exabyte tape
> drives, DA tapes, and so on?  I rather think it will be gone.  It isn't
> even clear if hard disk drives will still be available (not that any
> computer around would be able to interface with the 5 or 10 MB drives of
> my youth anyway).
> This is the problem with electronics.  You have to have BOTH long time
> scale stability AND an interface for the ages.  And the latter is highly
> incompatible with e.g. Moore's Law -- not even the humble serial port
> has made it through thirty years unscathed.  Is the Universal Serial Bus
> really Universal?  I doubt it.  And yet, that is likely to be the only
> interface available AT ALL (except for perhaps some sort of wireless
> network that isn't even VISIBLE to old peripherals) on the vast bulk of
> the machines sold in a mere five years.
> A frightening trend in computing these days is that we may be peaking in
> the era where one's computer (properly equipped with a sensible
> operating system) is symmetrically capable of functioning as a client
> and a server.  Desktop computers were clients, servers, or both as one
> wished, from the days of Sun workstations through to the present, with
> any sort of Unixoid operating system and adequate resources.  From the
> mid 90's on, with Linux, pure commodity systems were both at the whim of
> the system owner -- anybody could add more memory, more disks, a backup
> device, and the same chassis was whatever you needed it to be.
> Now, however, this general purpose desktop is all but dead, supplanted
> by laptops that are just as powerful, but that lack the expandability
> and repurposeability.  And laptops are themselves an endangered species
> all of a sudden -- in five years a "laptop" could very well be a single
> "pad" (touchscreen) of whatever size with or without an external
> keyboard, all wireless, smooth as a baby's bottom as far as actual plugs
> are concerned (or maybe, just maybe, with a single USB charger/data port
> or a couple of slots for SD-of-the-day or USB peripherals).  Actual data
> storage may well migrate into servers that are completely different
> beasts, far away, accessible only over a wireless network, and
> controlled by others.
> An enormous step backwards, in other words.  A risk to our political
> freedom.  And yet so seductive, so economical, so convenient, that we
> may willingly dance down a primrose path to an information catastrophe
> that is more or less impossible still with the vast decentralization of
> stored knowledge.
>   rgb
> Robert G. Brown                        http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/<http://www.phy.duke.edu/%7Ergb/>
> Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
> Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
> Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at phy.duke.edu<email%3Argb at phy.duke.edu>
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