Fluorescent Multilayer Disc (FMD): Technology Vaporware?

Technology Vaporware, Part 1: FMD is here!

Today: a special sneak peek at high capacity Fluorescent Multilayer Discs.

If you are a geek like me, you actively pursue the bleeding edge of new technology, salivating over technological breakthroughs, anxiously awaiting for them to hit market. Of course, most of these technologies never make it to market, or if they do, they fail to live up to their promise.

Fluorescent Multilayer Disc (or FMD for short) is one of the most exciting new technologies that I have heard about in the past few years, brought to us by the good folks at C-3D. C-3D claims that FMDs will eventually store up to a terabyte on a single CD sized disc. I’ve included an image here (directly linked to C-3D’s site, so the image link may be broken).


This image is displayed directly from C-3D.

The initial product rollout was supposed to include a write once, read many (WORM) type drive (like a CD burner) capable of storing 10-20 GBs of data, and smaller form factor modules for use in personal digital devices. Furthermore, C3D claimed that only small modifications would be required in the exisintg CD manufacturing process to make FMDs. Finally, the sweetest thing about all the promises of FMD was that the technology wasn’t so radical as to be unbelievable. It was the Next Logical Step. It must be right around the bend, right?

Well, ah, no.

The once-steady stream of FMD press releases and news blurbs has dried up. I no longer recieve announcements from the C3D mailing list (but those were corporate in nature and spotty at best). And of course, I STILL DON’T HAVE AN FMD RECORDER IN MY HOUSE!

This leads me to believe one of two things. Either that 1) FMD is dead in the water, or 2) that it was a hoax all along (I mean, C-3D’s website is a dot net – how suspicious is that?

I’m happy to report today that both of those assessments are wrong. FMD is very much alive, and thanks to inside sources, I’ve gotten my hands on some! I don’t have time right now to conduct a complete review, but I’d like to leave you with some brief observations and a few photos to whet your appetite.

First, the FMD form factor is *extremely* cool. It almost looks like a CD. As the photos clearly show, FMDs are transparent, enabling the multilayering pf data, in turn enabling their enormous capacity.


A brand new FMD.

Writing to an FMD is a breeze in the MacOS. I just popped it in the drive, DiscBurner displayed the standard dialogue asking if I wanted to prepare the disc for burning. After preparation, the FMD mounted on the desktop. I dragged a 10GB Volume onto the FMD. After ejecting, burning commenced. One of the more staggering things about the FMD is its burn rate. It took a little over 10 minutes to burn 9.5 GB of data!

Much like CDs after burning (where you can see where the dye has been altered), so too do FMDs change. The change is more subtle, and I’ve tried to take a few pictures of a burned FMD to show you. Burned FMDs become ever-so-slightly more opaque…

That’s about all the information I have for now. Stay tuned for more. FMDs should be hitting your local Best Buy soon!