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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage > Blue Laser

Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Plasmon UDO30I external SCSI Drive

1. Introduction

Plasmon UDO30I external SCSI Drive - Page 1


Plasmon announced back in November of 2003, the UDO technology as a new standard for professional optical storage, aimed at both large and small companies looking for an easy archival storage system. Based on ultra density, phase change blue laser technology, it is the recognized successor to 5.25 inch MO (Magneto Optical) storage and is available in both Rewritable and true Write Once media formats. Our review has the goal of introducing UDO technology, and to trial how it works.

- UDO Technological Background

Plasmon`s UDO drive is one of the first blue-violet laser and phase change products available on the market, offering the next generation of professional optical storage devices. UDO uses non contact recording to provide robust and reliable performance. Blu-Ray and PDD (Professional Disc for DATA from SONY) lasers use 0.85 numerical aperture (NA), while UDO lens has 0.7 NA for higher reliability and 0.1 mm cover layer for disc protection. The opto-mechanical assembly for the UDO drive comes from Asahi Pentax, a leading manufacturer of opto-mechanical assembly for 5.25" opto-mechanical drives.

- Why would someone need UDO Technology?

According to Plasmon, archival storage solutions are important for all organizations, large and small, everywhere round the world. The following changes in business practices and government oversight make an archival storage strategy essential:

  • Regulation – government and industry agencies have increased enforcement of existing regulations controlling data retention and instituted new, more stringent controls.
  • Litigation – the financial and management burden of litigation continues to grow. Providing authenticity and well-documented audit trails are crucial elements for protecting any organization.
  • Benefits – organizations are using long-term knowledge resources to make better decisions, lower costs, reduce time-to-market and improved customer loyalty.

Authenticity and Trustworthiness

UDO provides absolute data authenticity for regulatory compliance or for any application where archived information must remain 100% unchanged. UDO’s patented Phase Change recording process permanently alters the molecular structure of true Write Once media, ensuring data integrity at the most fundamental level.

Long-term Data Retention

UDO has been designed to provide decades of dependable data retention. A highly stable recording surface delivers media life in excess of 50 years, minimizing the frequency of data migration and virtually eliminating media maintenance.

High Capacity and Scalability

Rapidly growing archive data volumes demand solutions with high initial capacity and flexibility to scale over time. Blue laser technology gives 30GB UDO a three-fold increase in storage capacity compared to previous generation MO (Magneto Optical) and DVD technologies. The removability of UDO cartridges, combined with the on-line media management capabilities of optical storage libraries, means scalability is essentially unlimited.

Rapid Information Access

Knowledge assets are useless if they cannot be accessed when needed. UDO has fast 25-millisecond random access capability, facilitating timely retrieval of relevant data.

Low Total Cost of Ownership

UDO has a highly competitive archival storage TCO. With attractively priced 30GB media, the acquisition cost of a UDO library compares favorably with much less reliable tape or DVD solutions and costs a fraction of hard disk-based systems. UDO’s ISO standard 5.25 inch media cartridge, which permits the use of MO and UDO media in the same library, eliminating the necessity for migration from 9.1 MO media. Planned introductions of backward-compatible 60GB and 120GB UDO drives guarantee investment protection and minimize future migration expense.

- Media Specifications

The drive uses Plasmon 5.25 inch double sided UDO media cartridges with 30 GByte capacity. These are available in both true write once and rewritable media types. They use the same form factor as MO (Magneto Optical) media but are not compatible with MO drives, nor are MO media compatible with UDO drives. New UDO media must be formatted before being used, and behave like Removable/Floppy disk drive.

Disk Diameter
130 mm
Disk Thickness
2.4 mm
Cartridge Size
5.25 inch - ISO Standard 135x153x11mm
30 GB
Sector size
8 KB
Number of user sectors/side
Data area
27.0-62.5 mm
Recording layer
Phase change
Recording format
Land & Groove
Recording side
Both sides
Recording density
7.4 Gb/in
Media layers
Data encoding
RLL (1,7)
Rewrite cycles (Rewritable Media)
Media life
50+ years
Archival Temperature
Archival relative humidity

The media cartridges, physically identical to 5.25" MO, provide compatibility with current library automation systems but as we said before, backwards compatibility is not available with current MO technology. UDO`s media supports both true WORM (Write Once Read Many) and rewritable (RW) media types thanks to phase change recording technology while providing 50 years of data life. For 30 GB UDO-R media the cost is $60 which should decrease to $15 by the release of the third generation products, according to the company.

Generation 1
Generation 2
Generation 3
30 GB
60 GB
120 GB
Transfer Rate
up to 8 MB/s
up to 12 MB/s
up to 18 MB/s
2000 RPM
3000 RPM
3600 RPM
Avg Seek Time
25 msec
25 msec
25 msec
Numerical Aperture
Media Layers
Sector Size
8 KB
8 KB
8 KB
SCSI Transfer Rate
80 MB/s
80 MB/s
80 MB/s
Load Time
5 sec
5 sec
5 sec
Unload Time
3 sec
3 sec
3 sec

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