Development of a Novel Storage System for Stable, Long-Term Preservation of Digital Data/CRDS-FY2012-SP-07
Executive Summary

As we move further into the era of information explosion, the amount of digital data being created and stored is expected to skyrocket. This proposal, entitled “Development of a Novel Storage System for Stable, Long-Term Preservation of Digital Data”, discusses the development of a new storage system that not only preserves digital data stably over a long period, but also guarantees accessibility and comprehension of the stored data. Target term of the first stage is 100 years, and that of the second stage may be 500 - 1000 years, based on the achievement of the first stage.

Efforts to develop electronic technologies to support today's digital information infrastructure are concentrated in the development of information processing technologies, and little attention has been paid to the need to develop information preservation technologies. For this reason, a significant gap exists between information processing technologies and information preservation technologies, a gap that could disrupt continuity in human society. Arguing that the development of a reliable, ultra-long-term storage system is necessary to reduce this gap and avoid relevant potential risks, this proposal discusses important development-related issues and suggests measures to promote such development.

In order to realize the functions and performance required for a ultra-long-term?storage system, it is necessary to solve all of the R&D issues associated with different?technical layers, which include a product business (application software) and an?information system (standardization and an operating system) in the uppermost layer;?the hardware system; circuits and design; devices; production processes; and materials?in the bottom layer. Solving such issues requires R&D efforts that ensure cooperation?and consistency not only within each technical layer, but also between the different?layers.

Concrete issues associated with developing the product business include identifying the conditions for widespread adoption, examining the development strategies to be adopted, and exploring which business model should be followed. The issues associated with developing the information system include creating the scheme for metadata written on the chip, guaranteeing the permanence of the data formats to be used, examining the file systems to be used, and investigating the possibility of standardizing these aspects. All these issues are important for guaranteeing readability and comprehension of the stored data. Furthermore, issues related to the storage system and the circuit system include introducing the concept of adapters and developing technologies to prevent data tampering, while the issues related to processing and device systems include determining which technologies can guarantee the reliability of a chip as a whole, developing processing technologies suitable for ultra-long-term storage, and developing package technologies. Lastly, issues regarding the materials to be used include developing non-degradable materials for wires and pads and understanding material degradation mechanisms.

Today, migration of data as well as migration of entire systems is conducted regularly for the long-term preservation of digital data. However, it is possible that the costs of data preservation, including the costs of data migration, will rise significantly, and that continuing data migration activities will be difficult in the future. Against this background, migration-free, maintenance-free data preservation will ultimately be essential. The purpose of this proposal is to solve the problems associated with data preservation. If the recommendations presented in this proposal are realized, the size of the market for the new storage system is expected to range from 20 to 30 trillion yen given the market size for current optical disk drives which have similar use (equivalent to several percent of the amount of “digital-born” content created and stored).

With regard to the promotion of R&D, since the importance of this field is not necessarily commonly recognized at present, it will be important to, firstly, expand the community of people associated with this field. This can be achieved by gathering together not only engineers but also experts in various fields like social science, culture, and business models and by organizing research seminars and other types of meetings. Subsequently, a national strategy should be created based on the common ideas developed by the participants in this field, and appropriate projects that take globalization into account should be launched as soon as possible.