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Storage Shenanigans

 |  coding

Came across an interesting link on reddit today that claimed that you could store 256GB on an A4 piece of paper.

My first reaction was: holy crap, what a great idea! I was all set to write a version up. But then you look at the numbers, and it starts to look less feasible.

Taking A4 paper (8.25” x 11.7”) and assuming, say, a printer/scanner combo that can do 1400dpi @ 16 bits, it works out to… well, 3GB of storage. Which is still neat, but almost two magnitudes less neat than storing 256GB on a piece of paper, moving it from the realm of amazing to… “cute.” Meh. (Note that while many scanners claim that they can get 9600 dpi, the true scanning resolution is significantly less… and you still have to print it, anyways, which means that your maximum data density is limited to the maximum resolution of either your printer or your scanner, whichever is worse.)

Taking a look at their article, they claim to be able to get 2.7GB in a square inch. Generously assuming 24 bits of retrievable color information, that works out to about 11000 dpi, which is beyond current state of the art — especially considering the vagaries of printers and printer paper and whatnot. You could get that density if you had control over the surface, and specialized scanning and printing tools: say, a laser for reading and writing… we’ll call it a “DVD.”

So I’m calling shenanigans on this claim. Not that it isn’t a cool idea, of course.


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