Panasonic and Sony have entered a strategic partnership to develop a new type of optical disc with recording capacity of at least 300GB by the end of 2015.

Even though optical discs can’t match the speed of Flash memory or even Hard Disk Drives, the companies argue that their physical properties make them a better medium for archiving and long-term storage.

According to Panasonic, the benefits of optical discs when compared against HDDs or SSDs include dust-resistance and water-resistance, along with higher tolerance to temperature and humidity changes. They also allow “inter-generational compatibility” between different formats – for example, most DVD and Blu-Ray players can play back standard Audio CDs, a format invented back in the 80s.

Both Sony and Panasonic are currently engaged in development of the Blu-Ray format, which allows to fit up to 128GB of data on a single four layer disc. But the Japanese companies have long recognised that this limit will have to be pushed further, “given the expected future growth in the archive market”.

To this end, Sony is already developing an experimental medium for its professional video recording equipment that houses twelve 25GB discs in a single cartridge. Meanwhile, Panasonic has been working on a similar LB-DM9 system, which features ten thinner, 100GB discs.

The two companies will combine their expertise to create a new optical disc, which will allow squeezing 300GB of data on a single piece of plastic. The upcoming and yet unnamed format, developed primarily for the media industries and data centre applications, is expected to arrive no later than the end of 2015.